ST. MARYS — The Elk County Catholic cross country teams enter this season with just four returning letterwinners, but what ECC lacks in quantity it will be more than make up for in quality.
That’s because all four returnees — senior Jacob Carnovale and juniors Ben Hoffman and Isaac Wortman on the boys side and junior Chelsea Hunt for the girls — have competed at the PIAA Class A Championships.
Veteran head coach W.J. Fernan will rely heavily on that quartet to lead an inexperienced squad that was hit hard by graduation.
On the boys’ side, Logan Hoffman and Matthew Dippold — two key pieces to ECC’s run to a District 9 Class A team title and runner-up finish at the PIAA Championships were lost to graduation along with the likes of Same Wolfe and Drew Daghir.
Meanwhile, the Lady Crusaders lost four runners — Hannah Lenze, Abby Bonfardin, Catherine Cerroni and Maddie Sorg — who scored last year in a third-place finish at districts.
Those departures took away a lot of ECC’s depth, but Fernan still retuns some of his top-end talent in his four returnees.
Ben Hoffman won the District 9 Class A title last year — the first Crusaders to do so since 2010 — while Wortman and Carnovale were third and 13th, respectively, at districts. Hoffman went to place eighth at the state meet.
As for Hunt, she was the D-9 Class A runner-up a year ago behind Northern Potter’s Danielle Perry to earn her second trip to states. Hunt was fourth as a freshman at districts while competing at Kane before she transferred to ECC.
“We only have four returning varsity runners — three boys and a girl. That’s the bad news,” said Fernan. “The good news is that all four of them — Ben Hoffman, Isaac Wortman, Jacob Carnovale, and Chelsea Hunt — have all worked hard to be successful in the past and have been doing the same to this point this year.
“The better news is that that they have been joined by some reinforcements that they can help and encourage along the arduous journey of improvement.”
Hoffman, Wortman and Carnovale are part of a 10-man boys varsity squad, while Hunt is one of five girls on the roster.
Freshman Mara Lecker is the only other full-time runner on the girls’ squad with Hunt, so the Lady Crusaders could have several meets where they can’t score as a team — like Tuesday’s meet at DuBois.
Juniors Olivia Sorg and Emily Wolfe and sophomore Kara VanEerden are dual-sport athletes and will help the team when available.
As for the boys, the returning trio will be joined by senior Ryan Hunt, junior Regis Wortman, sophomore Joe Wolfe and freshmen Tom Dippold, Luke Jansen, Alex Miller and Parker Phillips. Wortman the lone dual-sport athlete on the boys squad.
“The past few years we have had a pretty good approximation of how far we would progress,” said Fernan. “We had a group that was eager to improve in big or small ways every day. They had proven themselves in previous years and consistently worked to find their best and help each other reach their best.
“This year, we have a lot of unknowns. We are pleased with the newcomers’ effort to this point. They seem eager to improve and to do their best, too, and the veterans seem eager to help and encourage them.
“We are hoping this leads to another journey of self-discovery, camaraderie and limit razing for the whole group. We’re looking forward to being a part of it.”
Elk County, which competed in a quad-meet Tuesday at DuBois, returns to action Saturday at the Red, White and Blue Invite in Pittsburgh.
Seniors: Jacob Carnovale, Ryan Hunt.
Juniors: Ben Hoffman, Chelsea Hunt, Olivia Sorg, Emily Wolfe, Isaac Wortman, Regis Wortman.
Sophomores: Joe Wolfe, Kara VanEerden.
Freshmen: Tom Dippold, Luke Jansen, Mara Lecker, Alex Miller, Parker Phillips.
DuBois spikes Curwensville
CURWENSVILLE — The DuBois Lady Beavers defeated Curwensville in straight sets on the road Tuesday.
DuBois won the match 25-10, 25-21, 25-18, as the Lady Beavers were led by 11 kills from Kelli Hoffer, who also finished with nine digs.
Cate Gregory recorded 35 assists for DuBois, while Kaylee Sadowski finished with seven aces in the match.
Lady Rovers shut out Clarion
BROCKWAY — The Brockway girls soccer team opened their season with a 5-0 win over Clarion at home Tuesday.
Junior Chanell Britten posted a hat trick in the win for the Lady Rovers, while Morrigan Decker added a pair of goals.
Decker, also added two assists in the win, while Morgan Lindemuth, Danielle Wood, and Callie Barber each added an assist.
Mackenzie Overbeck made 10 saves in goal to keep a clean sheet for Brockway.
The Lady Rovers return to action Thursday at home against Brookville at 7 p.m.
Rovers pound Dutchmen
ST. MARYS — The Brockway boys soccer team defeated St. Marys 13 to 4 on the road Tuesday.
Hunter Allenbaugh led the way for the Rovers with four goals, while Zane Puhala added three goals in the win.
Marcus Bennett added a pair of goals, while Tino Inzana, Clayton Heckman, Elijah Fremer and Jared Marchiori each added one goal apiece.
Bennett led the way with three assists, while Puhala and Allenbaugh each added a pair of assists.
ECC golfers beat St. Marys
ST. MARYS — The Elk County Catholic boys golf team shot a team score of 221, edging St. Marys by nine strokes at Bavarian Hills Golf Course Tuesday.
The Crusaders were led by Will Uberti, who posted the low score of the day with a 39.
Brady Schneider (44), Mark Kraus (45), Nick Dagir (46) and Nathan Roberts (47) rounded out the scorers for ECC.
Jordan DePrator (48) and Joe Geci (63) also competed at the match for the Crusaders.
The Dutchmen were led by a round of 44 by Tim Beimel, while Lucas Benjamin finished one shot back with a 45.
Paul Armaini (46), Lucas Erich (47) and Matt Bellina (48) rounded out the top five for St. Marys.
Brandon Sicheri and Anthony Whitcher also competed for the Dutch, both posting scores of 50, while Trevor Atkinson finished with a 53.
Elk County Catholic head coach Aaron Straub said both teams played well and the match was very competitive.
“Will’s (Uberti) score of 39 set the pace for us and gave our other players a big pick up,” Straub said. “We still have much room for improvement.”
Brookville goes 4-1 in AML play
BROOKVILLE — The Punxsutawney girls golf team took first place out of six teams with a score of 208 at Pinecrest Golf Course Tuesday.
Brookville finished second with a score of 249, followed by Curwensville (278), Ridgway (278) and Brockway (290).
DuBois played at the match, but did not have enough golfers compete to record a team score.
Brookville was led by Bailey Ganoe, who posted a 56, while Jenna Grant posted a 60.
Laney Gilmore led the way for Ridgway with a 54, while Curwensville’s low scorer was Lauren Rozer with a 59.
Maddy Gray posted DuBois’ best score of the day with a 56.
DCS sweeps Calvary Christian
HUNTINGDON — The DuBois Christian School girls and boys soccer teams came away with wins on the road over Calvary Christian Academy Tuesday.
The girls won 6-2 and were led by a pair of goals from both Rorrie Maynard and Sophia Williamson.
Colesy Brownlee and Hannah Mowrey each added a goal for the Lady Eagles.
On the boys side, DCS won 8-2, scoring four goals in both the first and second halves.
Gabe Hoover led the way with a hat-trick for the Eagles, while Alex Hallowell and Adam Mowrey each finished with two goals.
Shane McCabe added one goal in the road victory for DCS.