There is a youth movement happening concerning area girls cross country teams. Just four senior letterwinners return to Ashtabula County teams.
That doesn’t mean, however, there is a dearth of talent or a severe lack of experience.
Here is a team-by-team look at the area’s squads.
Joe Gerics takes over a Spartan team devoid of seniors. He does, however, inherit five returning letterwinners.
In order for Gerics’ crew to be successful, they have to maintain their health and develop as runners.
“Remaining healthy is a must,” Gerics said. “We have a solid core of runners and need to focus on getting our fourth and fifth runner to close the gap with our first through third runners.”
Returning to the Spartans are juniors Alexis Millard and Keeley Cole and sophomores Alyssa Chadwick, Jessica Thompson and Christa Oxley.
Joining the program this year are juniors Dani Heinonen and Justice Sprinkle and freshmen Danielle Hall and Kayla Misic.
Without a league championship to shoot for, the Spartans will direct their attention to the postseason.
“We are not in a conference so we will be focusing on advancing our runners from districts to regionals.”
Just two seasons removed from having less than a full team, Steve Hill’s program is not only growing, but thriving.
“This team is loading with talent but short on experience,” Hill said. “If they would decide to take cross country serious, they could be dangerous. Only time will tell. We want to be more competitive at the All-County Meet and district.”
Returning for the Warriors are sophomores Rebekah Simmons, Shelbie Sporcich and Savannah Spring.
Joining their ranks are juniors Justine Bunnell, Kate Crooks, Madelaine Smith and Sierra Stadalsky, sophomores Angel Newman and Sommer Woods and freshmen Ciarra Horton, Taylor Roberts, Mia Roncone and Andrea Zuccaro.
The Warriors will spend one last season without a conference, but are excited about the prospects of joining a league next fall.
“We’re looking forward to being in the All-American Conference next year,” Hill said.