ST. MARYS — The St. Marys cross country team enjoyed a big season last year as it concluded the season with the top two runners in District 9 Class AA on the girls side.
Both of those girls are back for 2016, and head coach Sharon Weisner is pretty excited for the season after seeing a few more athletes on the roster this season.
“Preseason has gone well,” said Weisner. “We had a great turnout. This year we actually have five boys on the varsity squad and eight girls. As of now, everyone is healthy and working hard. We just need to keep it that way.”
The Lady Dutch enjoyed the most success last season thanks to Michelle Bauer. Last year as a junior, Bauer won the District 9 Class AA meet in 19:25, which was 50 seconds faster than teammate Amanda Foster, who came in second place.
Bauer followed up that district championship with a 10th place finish at the PIAA meet, and now hopes to improve on that success this year as a senior.
“We are hoping for her to move up in place this year,” said Weisner. “Michelle has run all summer and is ready to start doing the season’s work . If all goes well, she should have a great senior season.”
As for Foster, she is a junior this year and also competed in the PIAA meet a year ago. She finished in 49th place in the state, and will try to improve on that this year.
“We also are looking for her to finish at least as well as she did last year at districts, and with a bit more race experience she could move up on her finish as well at the state meet,” said Weisner. “Nothing is a given though. She will have to do the work, run smart, be patient, and let the season develop.”
Also returning to the Lady Dutch are junior Autumn Majchrzak and Anna Raffeinner and sophomore Olivia Mosier. Majchrzak and Mosier both ran at districts last year, placing 17th and 33rd, respectively.
Freshmen Tessa Grotzinger and Lucy Anthony are out for the team, while senior Kara Reiter is also out for the first time.
“Autumn is now in her second cross country season,” said Weisner. “She knows how it works and what needs to be done. We are hoping that with Autumn and our two new talented freshmen, Lucy Anthony and Tessa Grotzinger, we will add up to a solid five runners.
“Anna Raffeinner is back for the start of her third season. We hope she stays injury free and is able to make it all the way through the season. She works hard and is dedicated to the team. With a little luck, she could prove to be one of our top runners.”
On the boys side, senior Aaron Piccolo is the lone returner that participated at the District 9 meet last season. He ended the race in 34th place.
Piccolo will be the leader for the Dutch as he will be a co-captain for the team along with Bauer.
Piccolo will be joined by senior Luke Kneidel and freshmen Tyler Henry, Cain Pfoutz and Gregory Tettis to comprise the boys team.
“They are a great group who work for the greater well-being of the team,” said Weisner of the boys team.
Weisner will be assisted this year by Amanda Clark. The two believe that with the hard work and great attitudes the runners have shown in preseason, the team is limitless with how far it can go.
“The bottom line is that we want the team to be strong together as a whole,” said Weisner. “We want them to work on building a solid foundation and to just enjoy being part of the team. We need to fight on the course for each other as a team. That is where the fun is.”
Weisner has built simple goals for her eight athletes for the season.
“We want to build ourselves fitter and stronger mentally and physically, enjoy our time together, to get along as a team, to have a great time while working hard, and to just build every day off of the day before,” said Weisner. “Our goal is to be the best that we can be and to have no regrets.
“In the meantime, we will all work hard and continue to build on what we have started so far. I am looking forward to a fun, successful season with everyone.”
St. Marys will begin the season on Friday at the Punxsutawney Invite.
Seniors: Luke Kneidel, Aaron Piccolo. Freshmen: Tyler Henry, Cain Pfoutz, Gregory Tettis.
Seniors: Michelle Bauer, Kara Reiter. Juniors: Amanda Foster, Autumn Majchrzak, Anna Raffeinner. Sophomores: Olivia Mosier. Freshmen: Tessa Grotzinger, Lucy Anthony.