DuBOIS — To paraphrase the late Al Davis, it looks like the theme for the DuBois Area High School cross-country team should be “Just run, baby”.
The Beavers bring back a fairly sizable amount of runners from last season, including two of their three state qualifiers in seniors Peter Foradora and Lauren Usaitis.
However, DuBois did suffer a big loss with the graduation of Cassie Folmar, the District 6-9 Class AAA girls champion last season.
DuBois will also open the season under first-year head coach Shawn Deemer.
Deemer is far from a novice when it comes to the varsity coaching ranks as the head coach of the Lady Beavers’ softball team for numerous years.
Deemer certainly himself in an enviable position considering the mindset that it takes to compete in cross country.
“These kids are in this because they love it,” Deemer said. “I don’t know many kids that are going to come out and run three or four miles a day if they’re not motivated to do it.”
While the girls’ squad lost its biggest performer in Folmar, and has just two seniors on the squad, it should still make an impact.
The seniors, Usaitis and Julie Marchioni, have both been on the squad since they were freshmen.
Usaitis, a three-time state qualifier, finished ninth at the D 6-10 Class AAA meet last year while Marchioni finished in the top 20.
“Those two have done a wonderful job,” Deemer said. “They’ve been very focused on getting to states. Not just that but they’ve helped me with some of the practices and helped put together some of the conditioning policies that we wanted to run with. Hopefully, their leadership will drive some of our younger girls (that want to succeed).”
Several of those who could be battling for top 10 finishes this year include junior Bayley Strouse and sophomores Emalee Horner and Kyra Hoover.
Deemer feels that one of the reasons that the girls team, which went unbeaten last year, had so much success was its approach during meets –something he hopes starts to carry through the program this year.
“I think that they have a kind of team approach last year,” Deemer said. “Their first seven or eight kind of hung together in packs and kind of fed off each other to push themselves harder.
“This year we’re trying to stress that same thing with the boys in practices,” Deemer added. “Packs run faster than individuals. We’ve been trying to get them to run in packs and lower their times by gobbling up individual runners.”
That will start up front with Foradora, the Beavers leading returner.
Foradora, a two-time state qualifier, has narrowly missed winning a district title the past two years a the D-10 meet. He finished second both times by three seconds.
“He’s not only working extremely hard but, at the same time, he’s been picking up on what some of the other runners are doing in terms of their mechanics. I think that shows a lot of maturity for him.”
Foradora leads a group of 21 runners on the boys’ side.
“We’re coming back with seven or eight boys who were always running in the (top 10),” Deemer said. “So really, as a team, I do expect a lot out of this team. They may not be unbeaten but, at the same time, I think we should be able to have a winning record.”
Among those that Deemer is hoping to nudge higher in the final standings are seniors Curtis Thomason, Gaven Wolfgang and Layton Yarus along with junior Kaleb Stevens and sophomores Brady Johnson and Keith Fatula.
Deemer will be assisted by Heidi Shindledecker.
The Beavers open against several opponents at Elk County Catholic this afternoon.
Seniors: Keaton Chapman, Peter Foradora, Jake Landini, Jon Russell, Curtis Thomason, Gaven Wolfgang, Layton Yarus. Juniors: Noah Knarr, Kaleb Stevens. Sophomores: Trenton Donahue, Keith Fatula, Gauge Gulvas, Brady Johnson, Ed Scott. Freshmen: Tucker Fenstermacher, Ryan Gildersleeve, Ethan Knarr, Keagan McCleary, David Reitz, Isaac Wayne, Logan Rinehart.
Seniors: Julie Marchioni, Grace Meholick, Lauren Usaitis. Juniors: Ally Andrulonis, Tori Gregory, Natalie Sprague, Bayley Strouse, Ellie McMahon. Sophomores: Maddy Cable, Kyra Hoover, Emalee Horner, Madison Pernesky, Ashley Usaitis. Freshmen: Morgan Allman, Anna Wingard.