Jonathan Alder cross country coach Chad Palenshus starts the 2014 season with four strong runners.
The problem is two of those runners are male and the other two are female, which means the Pioneers won’t have a dominant team, but likely a pair of individuals standing out on each squad.
On the boys side, the team will rely on a pair of seniors who have been in the program and have put in the work to get better. Those runners are Anthony Dresvyannikov and Jacob Somwaru.
“Those two guys are our top two runners from a year ago,” the coach said. “This team spent a lot of time really putting in the work in the off-season to better prepare for this season.”
But after his top two runners the coach is really unsure of what he has in the remaining members on the teams. There is a collection of freshmen who have yet to compete at the 5K distance at the high school level and a handful of kids who have yet to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
The rest of the team consists of seniors David Salzer and Tyler Guerin, junior Ben Hedgecock, sophomores Jack Berry and Josh Herrick, and the collection of freshmen including Bryce Potts, Cole Schrock, Ethan Cox, Josh Ellis and Oscar Ose.
“We’re at the same mileage now that we’re usually at the end of the season,” Palenshus said.
As for the Lady Pioneers, the team also returns its top two runners from a year ago in Taylor Gaerke and Delaney Geitgey. The talented juniors may be a bit lonely at practice because there are only four other team members.
Gaerke holds the school’s cross country record and seems to be ready to improve on her season of a year ago. Geitgey when healthy is an all-district caliber runner. The two athletes have pushed each other thus far this season.
“They’re both competitive kids,” Palenshus said. “Delaney looks forward to the challenge of Taylor every day in practice. It’ll only make the two of the better.”
The other members of the team include juniors Annie Maurer and Bailey Laff, as well as sophomore Shelby Cornelius and freshman Rena Kirts.
“Only time will tell how good we’ll be,” the coach said.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.