Pennridge’s Marissa Sheva pulls ahead of North Penn competitors in a 3200 meter event during their meet at Pennridge High School on Tuesday, March
Pennridge's Marissa Sheva pulls ahead of North Penn competitors in a 3200 meter event during their meet at Pennridge High School on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

Area cross country teams hit the course this week as they begin their push for both individual and team success.

A loaded Suburban One League Continental Conference includes state-caliber runners like Pennridge's Marissa Sheva and Central Bucks West's Maddie Villalba while perennial power North Penn toes the starting line with strong packs on both the boys and girls side.

“We have high expectations for the regular season and postseason,” Bucks coach Kiki Bell said, “so the girls are putting in the work and miles to get there.”

Souderton Area has a big group to build around as the Indians aim for continued improvement and a solid showing in the postseason.

Central Bucks West’s Maddie Villalba races towards the finish line during the girls varsity Continental Conference race at the Suburban One League
Central Bucks West's Maddie Villalba races towards the finish line during the girls varsity Continental Conference race at the Suburban One League Championships at Lehigh University on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen/For The Reporter)

“There will be no breaks once the team begins its regular season in the super competitive Continental Conference,” Big Red girls coach Jim O'Neill said. “There is some experience on this team and hopefully the large team size will create some healthy competition, which pushes everyone forward. There should be a great deal of improvement throughout the season.”

Several teams, like Methacton, hit the course hoping to find that new No. 1 runner.

“This is year one of R.W.O.K.A. - running without Kara Steinke,” Warriors coach Steve Mahan said. “This team has to learn how to race without Kara at the top spot. We have kiddingly said, ‘We are small in number but mighty in spirit.'


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“They are learning how to step out of their cross-country comfort zone. They are learning how to run with a small team — there are 15 healthy runners on this season's squad.”

Following is a team-by-team look at the area.

Boys Cross Country

Central Bucks West

Coach: Greg Wetzel (fifth season)

Last Year's record: 2-5; fourth at SOL Continental Conference meet

North Penn’s Ryan Tung races to the finish line during the boys varsity Continental Conference race at the Suburban One Championships at Lehigh
North Penn's Ryan Tung races to the finish line during the boys varsity Continental Conference race at the Suburban One Championships at Lehigh University on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen/For The Reporter)

Key Performers Lost: Ben Aunins

Key Returners: Rock Fortna Jr.; Brian Iatarola, Jr.; Ian Davies, Sr.; Matt Bowen, Sr.; Brian Mass, So.; Declan McDonald, Jr.; Trevor Belding, Sr.

Others to Watch: Ben Smullen, So.; Andrew Baker, Sr.; Beckett Wilson, Sr.; Logan Mazullo, Jr.; Carter Zerweck, Jr.; Alec Hofer, So.; Teagan Fortna, So.; Mark McClenahan, So.

Coach Wetzel Says: “This year will be extremely competitive, as it is every year in the SOL Continental. Our athletes have put in the work and are excited to show what they can do. If we can run as a team, we will be as good as anyone.”

Home Course: Lake Galena at Peace Valley Park

Wissahickon’s Jenna Feltes races towards the finish line during the American Conference varsity girls race at the Suburban One League Cross Country
Wissahickon's Jenna Feltes races towards the finish line during the American Conference varsity girls race at the Suburban One League Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Susan Keen/For The Reporter)

Opening Meet: Archbishop Wood Invite

Lansdale Catholic

Coach: Steve Probert (42nd season)

League: Philadelphia Catholic League

Key Performers Lost: Justin Angco; Nick Cioppi; Kevin Stenkie

Key Returners: Quinn Danielson, Sr.; Mick Gadaleta, Sr.; Dan Godzieba, Sr.; Andrew Danielson, So.; Ryan McDonald, So.

La Salle

Coach: Greg Bielecki (eighth season)

Last Year: Second place in the Philadelphia Catholic League; second in District XII

Key Performers Lost: Brendan Bilotta

Key Returners: Patrick Grant, Jr.; Ryan Mitchell, Sr.; Corey Driscoll, Sr.; Steve Paul, So.; Eddie Goebel, Jr.; Michael Phayre, Sr.; Brendan Price, So.; Sean Princivalle, Sr.

Others to Watch: David Kennedy, So.; Tommy Farrell, So.; Frank Livolsi, Jr.; Greg Galbreath, So.; Quinn O'Neill, So.; Greg Galbreath, So.; Evan Addison, Fr.; Michael Reilly, Fr.

Outlook: “There is tremendous upside for these Explorers. They certainly seem to have the potential to be a state-qualifying team, and have big aspirations for that meet. But Grant is the only member with any state-meet experience. The team will need to mature and learn to compete at the next leve. If they do, who knows how good this team could be.”

Home Course: Belmont Plateau

Opening Meet: Sept. 5 at the GFS Invite

Methacton

Coach: Steve Savitz

Last Year's Record: 8-1

Key Performers Lost: Tom Duffy; Pat Hopkins

Key Returners: Jeff Kirshenbaum, Jr.; Jared Kline, Sr.

Others to Watch: Vaibhav Gupta, So.; Matt Connolly, So.; Tom Fizzano, Sr.

Coach Savitz Says: “They ran hard over the summer and they train hard during practices. This team will be hard to beat.”

Home Course: Methacton High School

Opening Meet: At Boyertown

North Penn

Coach: Mike Werner (sixth season)

Last year's Record: 10-0; 7-0 in the SOL Continental; Conference Champs

Key Performers Lost: Ryan Grace; Matt Aham; Anthony Camasso

Key Returners: Ryan Tung, Sr.; Michael Cooney, Sr.; Shaun Collins, Sr.; Alex Washesky, Sr.; Zach Thomas, So.; Thomas Rozinski, Sr.; Ben Hoffman, Sr.

Others to Watch: Jack Johnston, Fr.; Colin Grace, Fr.; Daniel Santiago, Fr.; Nick Swope, Sr.; Justin Toto, Sr.; Kyle Parncutt, So.

Coach Werner Says: “This year's team will feature a new leadership group that has the challenge of leading a team with a lot of new faces. With many strong teams in our league and district, we will need all of the runners on our team to work together in order for us to achieve our goals.”

Home Course: North Penn High School

Opening Meet: Aug. 29, 10 a.m., at home against Lower Merion

Pennridge

Coach: Terry Permar (19th season)

Last Year's Record: 6-1

Key Performers Lost: Joey Logue; Matt Schulberger; Jeff Henderson; Eric McGarry

Key returners: Phil Gunderson, Sr.; Elliot Coopersmith, Sr.; Tom Kelly, Jr.; Edison Fowler, Jr.; Conor Brady, Sr.; Andrew Saville, So.

Others to Watch: Tucker Desko, Jr.; Sam Schaeffer, Jr.; James Masgai, Jr.; Jeff Espinal, Jr.; Jonathan Darlak, Jr.

Coach Permar Says: “Losing five from last year's top six, we'll be taking our hits. It may not be pretty at the beginning of the season but hopefully the hard work will pay off in the last few meets.”

Home Course: Pennridge High School

Opening Meet: Viking Invitational

Souderton Area

Coach: John Donahue (15th season)

Last Year's Record: 1-7; 0-7 in the SOL Continental; eighth at Leagues; 34th at districts

Notable Losses: Paul Carracciolo; Dave Cappi; Ryan Walter; Alec Linse; Mitch Schlegel (Elizabethtown College)

Key Returners: Connor McMenamin, So.; Austin Carlson, Jr.; Joe Breen, So.; Max Bainbridge, Sr.

Others to Watch: Kyle Ryan, Fr.; Brendan Clarke, Sr.

Coach Donahue Says: “We are a very young team with many underclassmen in the top seven. We hope to improve our league record and move up in the District One rankings.”

Wissahickon

Coach: Bill Gallagher (32nd season)

Last Year's Record: 8-1 Overall, 7-0 in the SOL American

Key Performers Lost: Tristan Marcelis; Louis Orehek; Dan Graeff; Alex Walker

Key Returners: Kyuande Johnson, Sr.; Walker Smith, Sr.; Lukas Marcelis, Jr.; Andrew Harman, Jr.

Others to Watch: Mike Hong, Sr.; Matt Gilman, Sr.; George Fadel, Sr.; Adit Lala, Jr.

Coach Gallagher Says: “We have good returning numbers (30 kids) and a good group of freshmen (15). Our goals are to repeat as Suburban One American champs and run well as a team at districts.”

Home Course: Wissahickon High School

Opening Meet: Sept. 4 at home against Phil-Mont Academy

Girls Cross Country

Central Bucks West

Coach: Kiki Bell (14th season)

Last Year's Record: 6-1 in the SOL Continental

Key Performers Lost: Meghan Iatarola (West Chester University)

Key Returners: Maddie Villalba, Jr.; Olivia Berry, Sr.; Emily Aunins, So.; Jillian Keyte, Jr.; Lindsey Gerlach, Sr.

Others to Watch: Lauren Olsen, Jr.; Shelby Bingamen, Sr.; Amelia Krause, So.; Laura Roth, So.

Home Course: Lake Galena at Peace Valley Park

Opening Meet: Aug. 29th at the Viking Invitational

Christopher Dock

Coach: Justin Wikerd (fourth season)

Last Year's Record: 8-0 overall, 5-0 in the BAL

Key Performers Lost: Megan Bishop; Julia Bergy

Key Returners: Maddison Landis, Jr.; Sharon Curtis, Jr.; Camryn McCloskey, So.; Alana Bergey, So.; Jackie Carson, So.; Lindsey Bemd, Fr.

Coach Wikerd Says: “This is a very hard working and determined group of runners.”

Home Course: Christopher Dock High School

Gwynedd Mercy

Coach: Larry Wilson (36th season)

League: Catholic Academies League

Key Performers Lost: Allie Flint

Key Returners: Caroline Bauer, Jr.; Emily Degrandpere, Sr.; Sidney Hirowaka, Sr.; Sarah Webster, Jr.

Hatboro-Horsham

Coach: Anna Baker (third season)

Last Year's Record: 1-7

Key Performers Lost: Natalie Hurst (Catholic University)

Key Returners: Alyssa Quinn, Jr.; Hannah Knudsen, So.; Rachel Walbert, Jr.; Emma Raudenbush, Jr.

Others to Watch: Genna Hilliard, Sr.; Madeline DiPasquale, Fr.; Miranda Cahill, So.

Coach Baker Says: “We have the potential to be successful with our strong leadership and experienced newcomers, and I am very excited and looking forward for the upcoming season.”

Home Course: Hatboro-Horsham High School

Opening Meet: Sept. 3 at home against Upper Merion

Lansdale Catholic

Coach: Steve Probert (42nd season)

League: Philadelphia Catholic League

Key Performers Lost: Anna Benecke

Key Returners: Hannah Beck, Jr.; Candice Bizzaro, Sr.; Rachael Heart, Sr.; Elizabeth Reid, Sr.; Mikayla Beaver, Jr.; Hannah Beck, Jr.; Clair Hill, Jr.; Morgan Keenan, Jr.; Kayla Connelly, So.

Lower Moreland

Coach: Mary Crossin (eighth season)

Last Year's Record: 5-0; Second overall in the Bicentennial Athletic League (New Hope won the BAL Meet); Fourth in District One Class 2A

Key Performers Lost: Jessica Dranzik; Gabrielle Castor

Key Returners: Caroline Harmon, Sr.; Mary Kate Barton, Jr.; Lizzie Harmon, So.

Others to Watch: Hannah Assour, So.; Jessica Tsang, So.; Isabelle Leonard, So.; Rachael Millan, So.; Cora Castor, So.; Shannon Long, So.; Michelle Teresiak, Fr.

Coach Crossin Says: “Despite the loss of our senior captains from last season, we return our top four runners from last season, and have a slough of talented young runners ready to challenge for a spot in our top seven.

We should be very competitive in the BAL. Furthermore, we should be near the top at the District I Class 2A Meet. Ultimately, our team has a great balance of experienced leaders and talented youth that should prove to be a strong and exciting combination all season.”

Home Course: Lower Moreland High School

Opening Meet: Sept. 3 at home against Upper Moreland and George School

Methacton

Coach: Steve Mahan (31st season)

Key Performers Lost: Kara Steinke (Colorado State); Kristen Unangst (Syracuse); Kristen Sprayberry (Franklin & Marshall)

Key Returners: Jamie Motley, Sr.; Abby Konkoly, Jr.; Ryan DeOrio, So.; Sarah Lebold, Jr.; Deb Peifer, Jr.; Brianna Landis, Jr.

Others to Watch: Anna Price, Fr.; Alison Ukalovic, Sr.; Roseann Harmon, Jr.

Coach Mahan says: “They are learning how to run with six new runners. This will be a transition year and we hope the transition goes along smoothly.”

Home Course: Methacton High School

Opening Meet: Aug. 29 at the John Sharp Invitational

North Penn

Coach: Jim Crawford Jr. (41st season)

Last year's Record: 8-2 overall, 5-2 in the SOL Continental; third in the conference; sixth in District One Class 3A

Key Performers Lost: Brianna Mengini; Melanie Vlasic; Colleen McGovern

Key Returners: Ali Valenti, Sr.; Phoebe Clowser, Jr.; Mikaela Vlasic, So.; Sarah Tung, So.; Kirsten Hatton, Sr.

Others to Watch: Tara McLaughlin, Jr.; Tara Sorman, Jr.; Maddy Little, Jr.

Coach Crawford Says: “Our conference should be very strong again with CB East, CB West, Pennridge, and CB South looking like the top four. We are definitely not as strong as we have been in the recent past. Also, I think that Souderton, Hatboro-Horsham and Quakertown will all be much improved from last year.”

Home Course: North Penn High School

Opening Meet: Aug. 29 at home against Lower Merion

Pennridge

Coach: Bill Smith (ninth season)

Last Year's Record: 2-5 in the SOL Continental

Key Performers Lost: Mary Davis; Samantha Pregizer; Katrina Przybylowski

Key Returners: Marissa Sheva, Sr.; Margo Brill, So.; Monika Brill, So.; Hannah Kramlik, Sr.; Sophie Hicks, Jr.; Natalie Mamrol, Jr.

Others to Watch: Julia Foster, Jr.; Carly Musco, Fr.; Erin Chinnici, Fr.; Emily Carr, Fr.

Coach Smith Says: “If healthy, we should be competitive.”

Home Course: Pennridge High School

Opening Meet: Aug. 29th at the Viking Invitational

Phil-Mont Christian

Coach: Chip Struck (32nd season)

Key Returners: Katie Guerra, Jr. (State Qualifier)

Home Course: Phil-Mont Christian Academy

Opening Meet: Sept. 4 at Wissahickon

Wissahickon

Coach: Heidi Butt (seventh season)

Last Year's Record: 5-2 in the SOL American

Key Performers Lost: Caroline Mitchell; Yasmeen Wermers; Yun Cho

Key Returners: Jillian Gude, Sr.; Lotte Black, Jr.; Jenna Feltes, Jr.; Olivia D'Andrea, So.

Others to Watch: Fiona Kelly, Jr.; Shannon U, Jr.; Kendall Quesenberry, Fr.; Hayley Ross, Fr.

Coach Butt Says: “Our conference will be much more evenly matched this season. That being said, every dual meet will be a close contest. It will make for a very exciting and competitive season.”

Home Course: Wissahickon High School

Opening Meet: Aug. 29 at the Viking Invitational

Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter @khunter10.