Aug. 23 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Under second-year head coach Mike Guinn, the Bethany College men’s and women’s cross country teams will have their largest rosters in years, which will strengthen the Bison not only in 2012, but in the coming years as well.
The 12 runners on the women’s side and nine for the men mark a big step up in recent years for Bethany. If the teams stay healthy, this would be the first time since 2007 that both squads had enough runners to compete as a full team consistently through the year. Even with the larger team size, Guinn said both groups came into training fit and have meshed well so far.
“Even with the bigger numbers, the team has bonded well and I’ve been impressed with how hard everyone is working,” said Guinn. “We have some freshmen girls who are already starting to push the upperclassmen, so that will just make us better. We have a lot of young guys on the roster, so we’ll have to see how they develop.”
The women’s team will have to replace graduate Joanna Mongelluzzo, who was First Team All-PAC and an All-Region performer last fall. Leading the returning runners is sophomore Jessica Olson (Moon, Pa.), who earned Honorable Mention All-PAC after finishing 18th at last year’s conference championships. Sophomore Rhianna Petrone (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan), who was 30th at PACs last year, is trying to recover from an early injury, while juniors Heather Hamm (Milton, Vt./BFA Fairfax), Emily King (Haprers Ferry, W.Va./Washington) and Chelesi White (Elkins, W.Va.) are also back.
Among the freshmen Guinn believes can contribute right away are Brooke Bosworth (St. Clairsville, Ohio) and Gabriela Bonazzo (Gassaway, W.Va./Braxton). The Bison coach also sees potential in his other first year runners, which include senior Katrina Miller (Avella, Pa.), sophomores Briana Breault (Moundsville, W.Va./Bishop Donahue) and Rebekah Hudock (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) and freshmen Catherine Breault (Moundsville, W.Va./Bishop Donahue) and Kelsea Martz (Hedgesville, W.Va.).
“We won’t have a front runner this year, but we have a good pack of runners,” said Guinn. “Jess is our top returner and should push for a spot in the top 14 this year at PACs. With Brooke and Gabriela, that gives us three that should finish in the top 25-30 overall. The other girls will take a little time to develop, but they have shown a lot so far just through the first week of training. We are a young team that could take some lumps this year but we will keep getting stronger through the season.”
For the men, junior Cory Yarrington (Berkeley Springs, W.Va.) returns for his third year. Despite not being healthy for much of last year, he placed 14th overall at PAC Championships to secure his second straight all-conference award. Guinn expects he’ll have help running for All-PAC accolades this fall from sophomore Cody McDonald (Martinsburg, W.Va./Mussleman) and freshman Ryan Donnelly (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills).
Like the women, the BC men’s deeper roster features a lot of youth and their development will determine how far up the PAC rankings the team can go. Junior Hunter Ankrom (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) is back after missing all of last season due to injury. Filling out the rest of the roster and competing for a spot in the Bison top five include junior Nick Sainvilier (Washington, D.C./The Heights School) and freshmen Will Farkas-Worthy (Elkview, W.Va./Charleston Catholic), Brenton Nutter (Zanesville, Ohio), Marvin Oduro (Burtonsville, Md./Paint Branch) and Christopher Troyer (Gnadenhutten, Ohio/Indian Valley).
“We expect to have a strong 1-2-3 punch on the men’s side, but will only be as good as our 4-5 guys,” said Guinn. “Even as a freshman, Ryan has the ability to push for the top of the pack in the conference and Cody is with him on every run so far in training, so we expect a good year from him. Cory is coming off an injury-filled year, but with two All-PAC awards, he is established as a top runner in the conference. The other young guys on the team have shown potential and are working hard to reach it, so it should be competitive all season long for the last two spots.”
Bethany begins the season Sept. 1 at the Seton Hill Invitational, but this year will also feature a pair of home races for the Bison. After hosting the Bison Invitational Sept. 29th as a preview, Bethany will welcome the 2012 PAC Championships to campus Oct. 27th, the first time the program has hosted the event since 2004. Guinn has been hard at work to get the taxing course ready for the big events.
"We are looking forward to hosting the PAC Championships this year,” said Guinn. “The Sept. 29th meet will be a good preview and we should have most of the conference schools here for that. We are expecting a good meet for PACs on a challenging course. It has some steady inclines but gives some back by the end of the day as well. Hosting the PAC Meet is a good step for our program and our season-long goal is to have a very competitive showing at championships since it will be on our home course.”