DuBOIS — For the first time since 1979, the DuBois Central Catholic cross-country program will put more than two full teams on the field in consecutive seasons.
Tom Shade returns for another season and is optimistic for another year of accomplishments.
“The students stepped up and answered the call, and it is a great privilege to have the opportunity to work with young men and women of this caliber,” Shade said. “I know the founders of cross country at DCC, Don Davies and Fr. Greg Leopold, must be smiling down on us as they see their legacy continue. Those coaches were so passionate about this sport in the 1970s and 80s.”
Last season the boys and girls team combined for a total of 14 dual wins with an array of school records and individual wins from returning letter winners. In the postseason, both teams combined for the fastest runs ever recorded for both the boys and girls teams at the district course.
Central Catholic also had the highest placement at the district meet in school history, and most of those runners are returning this year.
Leading the boys in 2018 will be Johnny Ritsick, a junior, who is one of the few district medalists in the distance events in DCC’s track history.
Central also boasts five returning letterwinners on the boys’ side including JP Piccirillo, Grant Norman, Len Swisher, Shane Paisley, and Jon Schoeneman. Additions to the boys this season are Dylan Foster and Dante Armanini.
“The boys have been running as a pack in practice and are pushing each other,” said Shade. “This may be the first year DCC has runners going below 18:00 since the 1990s.”
No DCC boy has qualified for the state championship since Matt Gabler did so in 1999. Shade believes this group has a chance to change that this season.
“Certainly Johnny, Lenny, Grant and JP have the potential to move on after districts, and I am optimistic that several of their teammates will be pushed to do the same,” Shade added.
The Lady Cards are led by Emily Williams, winner of several duals in 2017 and the first medal winner at an invitational in 36 years for DCC. Williams led the girls to a historic fifth place at the district meet last season.
“Emily is a good team leader who genuinely cares for her teammates, while also ensuring she works at 100 percent effort in practice,” Shade said of his senior runner. “It is hard to stress the importance of good leadership, and it makes all the difference in team performance.
“However, this is only one of many contributions Emily has made to the program. Right now she is our top contender in post-season, but several girls are gaining confidence and eying the first spot.”
At this point in the season, it looks like Beth Williams, Alex Ochs and Maddie Miscavish will vie for the top positions, but other teammates are working hard.
“The last Lady Card to make it to states was Missy Roseman in 1987, and I would love to see that milestone repeated in 2018,” said Shade.
Also returning from last season are Michaela Armanini, Madison Gill, Rachel Miller, Madison Miller, and new teammates JoAnn Case, Maia Cogley, Megan Ochs, and Jordy Kosko.
“We want to build on the success of last season and our goal is to close the gap between fifth and first place at districts, and for each runner to reach their highest potential as athletes and individuals,” Shade said.
The Cardinals kick off their season at the Bear Mountain Invitational in Lock Haven on Saturday, followed by a dual meet at DuBois on Tuesday.
Senior: Emily Williams.
Juniors: Alex Ochs, Maia Cogley, Jordy Kosko, Madison Miscavish, Madison Miller, Rachel Miller.
Sophomores: JoAnn Case, Madison Gill, Beth Williams, Michaela Armanini.
Freshman: Megan Ochs.
Seniors: Grant Norman, Jon Schoeneman.
Juniors: Dylan Foster, Jon Ritsick, Shane Paisley.
Sophomores: Dante Armanini, JP Piccirillo, Len Swisher.