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Aug. 29 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With a new coach and the top runner from the men’s and women’s teams returning, the Bethany College men’s and women’s cross country programs are hoping to pick up where they left off last fall. The opening meet of the year is scheduled for Sept. 3 at the Westminster Invitational.

The new head coach for the Bison is Michael Guinn, whose previous experience included stints at Division II programs West Virginia Wesleyan and Seton Hill. In his six years of college coaching, Guinn helped Seton Hill win one men’s cross country conference title and West Virginia Wesleyan to a total of seven cross country and track and field crowns. He says his teams are doing what they need to in order to be ready for the season.

“The teams are working hard and workouts are going well,” said Guinn. “We are fortunate enough to have one All-PAC runner back for both teams and with the work they have put in so far, many of them are already hitting or surpassing their PRs from last year, so I am pretty happy with where we are right now.”

The women’s team will be led by senior Joanna Mongelluzzo (Washington, Pa./Trinity). She claimed Second Team All-PAC a year ago by finishing eighth overall, the highest placement by a Bison runner since 2005. Also returning for BC are three others who competed at PAC Championships last fall, including senior Kaitlyn Black (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley), junior Melissa Davis (Lancaster, Ohio) and sophomore Chelsei White (Elkins, W.Va.).

The roster is filled out by sophomores Heather Hamm (Fairfax, Vt./BFA Fairfax), Emily King (Harpers Ferry, W.Va./Washington) and Katie Woeckener (Hickory, N.C./St. Stephens) and freshmen Jessica Olson (Moon, Pa./Moon Area) and Rhianna Petrone (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan), giving Guinn a solid group to take into the year.

“The women’s team has a nice set of numbers,” said Guinn. “Joanna is coming off an All-PAC season and the way she is training right now, she definitely has a chance to finish in the top five or even top three. The whole team is responding well to training and everyone has hit their paces, so I’m looking forward to what the season brings.”

The men’s team doesn’t have the same depth as the women, but does boast an all-conference runner. Sophomore Cory Yarrington (Berkeley Springs, W.Va.) became the first Bison runner in three years to earn All-PAC laurels after he crossed in 13th place overall, which also made him the first Bethany freshman since 2002 to run to all-league status.

Bethany’s team suffered a blow when freshman Hunter Akrom (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) suffered an injury early in the preseason and is expected to miss most of, if not the entire season. Although senior Joe Douglas (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) is back after a solid first year with the program, and sophomore Jacob Arbaugh (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) and freshman Robert Striker (Hinton, W.Va./Oak Hill) join the Bison, the Ankrom injury will leave Guinn a little short-handed heading into the campaign.

“We may take our lumps early on because we don’t have a complete team right now due to Hunter’s injury,” said Guinn. “We are still trying to pick up one more runner and may be able to get someone later in the season. But we have team leaders, led by Cory, who was All-PAC last year and has already posted sub-17 time trials, and Joe, who works as hard as anyone. With the attitude everyone has, we are going to put some times down to impress people.”