First Posted: 8/28/2013
Wyoming Area, which went from winless in 2011 to 10-7 in Wyoming Valley Conference boys cross country in the first season under Mike Stefanik, will try to continue that progress this season.
“We have a pretty good turnaround,” Stefanik said.
Senior Chris Wall, juniors Zach Gibbons and Jude Polit-Moran and sophomore Nico Vasquez were often among the seven runners that counted in scoring last season when the Warriors produced that winning record. Joe Buczynski is back after working his way into the lineup for the season-ending district meet.
Juniors Stephanie Schultz and Emily Wolfgang return to the girls lineup.
Most of the remaining spots on both teams will be filled by sophomores.
“We have an extremely young team,” said Stefanik, who reported the former junior high runners are adjusting well to the switch from 3000 meters to 5000 meters.
John Paul Drivinghawk, James Kasicky, Austin Rought and Ryan Marvin are the other boys runners.
Mackenzie Bilbow returns after being hurt last year and missing the entire season when she appeared to be in position to be the No. 1 runner as a freshman.
Emily Yarmey, Emily Ambruso and Jules Skappaticci are the other girls on the team.
Wyoming Area went 6-11 last season, but several of the losses came when the team was unable to fill the minimum five spots to create a team score.
The Pittston Area boys face similar numbers problem with their roster.
The Patriots have experience among their five runners as coach Dave Jiunta tries to add a few to the roster.
“It’s the least amount of kids I’ve ever had for a team,” the 10th-year coach said.
Junior Mike Havrilla finished eighth out of 112 runners in the District 2 meet last year to miss advancing to the state Class AAA meet by one spot.
“He’ll be our No. 1 runner,” Jiunta said. “Hopefully, he’ll get to states this year.”
Juniors Eric Sklanka and Patrick Cadden appear to be second and third in the lineup. Sophomore Mike Felter is also back along with junior Spencer Saxon, who was in the lineup for the district meet.
Tara Johnson and Abigail Sheerer were in an otherwise all-senior lineup as freshmen on a strong team last year.
Johnson finished ninth in the District 2 Class AA championships to qualify for the state meet in Hershey.
Pittston Area girls coach Joe Struckus has many runners to choose from, including seniors Meghan Dougherty and Christine Briggs and junior Megan Murtha, who have been part of the program but have not figured into the scoring in the past.
“Of the 14 we have, seven have never run a varsity race before,” Struckus said. “I’m hoping Meghan and Christine can lead the way for them.”
The cross country season gets underway Saturday with the annual Cliff Robbins Invitational.
Wyoming Valley Conference action starts Sept. 4 with Pittston Area and GAR running at Wyoming Area.