PREP GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: Youth abound in 2019 season

Wawasee’s Kenzie Smith maintains a slight lead over Concord’s Alexa Porter during a dual between Concord, Wawasee and Goshen in this 2018 file photo.

GOSHEN — The 2019 girls cross country teams will be dominated by youth.

The only returning sectional-winning team from last year is West Noble. The Chargers are led by senior Yarency Murillo, who was an all-state runner a season ago. West Noble looks to repeat as sectional champions in 2018 behind its five returning runners.

“Although we have a small team this season, all of our top five runners from the 2018 season are returning. We also have a freshman who is a great addition to the team,” West Noble coach Kirstin Alles said. “All of the ladies have been working hard over the summer preparing for this upcoming season. We are excited to see their hard work pay off this cross country season.”

Fairfield senior Carol Haldeman won the individual Northeast Corner Conference championship last year. She’ll look to lead a young Falcons team in 2019.

“We are very small, once again. The keys to success will be staying healthy and the entire team buying in. We will be leaning heavily on four freshmen to help us be successful this season,” Fairfield coach Kirt Hunsberger said. “This group will need to grow up quickly and contribute right away. With only seven girls, the margin for error is small.”

Over in the Northern Lakes Conference, NorthWood graduates more than 10 seniors from a season ago. The Panthers finished sixth at the Elkhart sectional in 2018 and look to improve on that. Coach Mark Mikel hopes the young talent will lead NorthWood to a strong 2019 campaign.

“After losing 11 seniors to graduation last year, this team is young, but brings decent experience to the program. Sophomores Emilie Allen and Kaitlin Burden have had excellent training this summer, and look to be a solid 1-2 punch for us,” Mikel said.

Austin Hough can be reached at or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN


Head Coach: Benjamin Hurst

Number of years as head coach: 7

Assistant Coaches: Katie Hurst

Previous year’s record: 3-10

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Clara Lind (regional qualifier in 2017 and 2018), Luisa Dutchersmith, Hanbing Wei

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Sasha Dyck, Ngoc Nguyen, Naomi Torres; Freshmen — Melony Moreno-Limones, Angela Soto

Comments: “We have an experienced group of girls out this season with six returning seniors. The girls are the most prepared coming in as I have seen them over the last three years,” coach Hurst said.


Head Coach: Dave Juday

Number of years as head coach: 21

Previous year’s record: 5-4

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Summer Cooper (semistate qualifier), Paola Martinez, Elyse Meranda, Sydney Simon; Juniors — Carina Bollero, Stephany Claudio

Comments: “We have a good class of freshmen runners and may see some of them work into the top 10 this season,” coach Juday said.

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Summer Cooper, Naomi Lopez, Athziry Marrufo; Juniors — Kayla Alley, Destiny Salvador, Leslee Sierra, Jocelyn Smith; Freshmen — Leslie Cruz, Alona Howard, Rylie Meyer, Mia Morrison, Marissa Moussa, Lydia Nisen, Joyce Odhiambo, Camryn Sexton, Delaney Trigg


Head Coach: Kirt Hunsberger

Previous year’s record: 15-9

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Carol Haldeman (NECC champion/State qualifier), Emily Yoder, Madelyn Yoder

Other varsity candidates: Freshmen — Chynzie Howell, Ava Bontrager, Makayla Culp, Delana Geiger


Head coach: Mike Wynn

Number of years as head coach: 27

Assistant Coaches: Lee Wynn, Chris Dubois, Alejandro Rodriguez

Previous year’s record: 1-8

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Morgan Chupp, Julie Walton Clark; Juniors — Kassidy Bestul, Sophia Koshmider; Sophomore — Lauren Kauffman

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Celeste Arroyo, Jessie Castillo, Sarai Flores, Taya Stewart, Ruth Whitehead; Juniors — Marleny Garcia, Kylie Miller, Hazany Palomino, Alexia Potter, Brenda Reyes, Sofia Karthik; Sophomores — Chloe Collins, Lindsey Daniels, Salome De Moya, Nataly Esqueda, Areli Guzman, Hope Kindig, Rylee Weishaupt, Carly Yoder, Sophia Yordy; Freshman — Mara Schrock

Comments: “The girls look to improve on last year’s performance,” coach Wynn said.


Head Coach: Thom Taylor

Number of years as head coach: 12

Previous year’s record: 4-6

Returning letterwinners: Ella Lewin, Monica Guzman, Brooklynn Rettig, Jama Sines, Kailia Malavianh

Other varsity candidates: Chloe Sines, Keylee Fleeman, Paris Allen

Comments: “We have as solid young core. If we can continue to develop, grow, and work together they will find success individually and as a team,” coach Taylor said.


Head Coach: Ryan McClane

Number of years as head coach: 20

Assistant Coaches: Andy Williams, Sam Miller, Jennifer Schrock

Previous year’s record: 5-2

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Ali Bache (All-NLC), Caitlin Clark, Ann Metzger; Juniors — Riley Demeter, Keeton LeBaron, Delaney Lopez, Ann Metzger; Sophomores — Clare Ritchie (ALL-NLC), Hayley Troyer, Delaney Lopez

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Grace Ritchie, Maddy Kauffman; Juniors — Kora Beasley, Abi Lloyd, Monse Garcia; Sophomores — Ella Hoefer; Freshmen — Kylie McMann, Emma Long, Tame Baylis, Haylee Hile, Karsyn Smaka.

Comments: “Last year our girls were a middle-of-the-pack conference team and we are hoping to get back to competing for a title this year. Our numbers are up with 19 girls on the roster and we have had a number of new faces join the team this year,” coach McClane said. “We have a very solid group coming back this year with Ali Bache, Caitlin Clark and Clare Ritchie leading the team. We have added some freshman this year that I think can contribute, but will need to gain race experience quickly in order for them to provide some much-needed depth.”


Head Coach: Mark Mikel

Number of years as head coach: 15

Assistant Coaches: McKenna Mikel

Previous year’s record: 7-4

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Karlie Fielstra, Megan Miller; Juniors — Reese Barhydt, Abigail Vorhis, Emilie Allen; Sophomores — Kaitlin Burden, Morgan Jenkins

Comments: “Senior Megan Miller and junior Reese Barhydt are going to provide strong racing and upperclassman leadership for this young team,” coach Mark Mikel said. “Senior Karlie Fielstra should be in the mix of our top seven when she heals from a summer basketball injury, and Sophomore Morgan Jenkins will be an important piece to the puzzle this fall.”

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Kristen Chapman, Hannah Eberle, Araceli Martinez, Molly Smith, Natalie Venable; Junior — Andrea Williams; Sophomores — MacKenzie Brewer, Jenna Markham, Samantha Quinn; Freshmen — Reegan Austrup, Elle Roberts


Head Coach: Doug Slabaugh

Number of years as head coach: 8

Assistant Coaches: Staci Weisser, Dave Stookey, Chad Hoffert

Returning letterwinners: Juniors — Emma Ebright, Ella Beezley, Bailey Mayhew; Sophomores — Cammy Kryder, Lily Tyler

Other varsity candidates: Senior — Valeria Pizana; Juniors — Rileigh Atwood, Autumn Turner; Sophomores — Jordan Gibbs, Mariah Hurst, Devin Haskins; Freshmen — Trinity LaJoice, Sydnee Keith, Ainsley Holstein, Mollie Byall

Comments: “This season will be a season of growth and development. Only one senior on the team, so many girls are going to have roles to step into and accept the challenge and to help challenge each other to be fearless when coming to racing,” coach Slabaugh said.


Head Coach: Kirstin Alles

Number of years as head coach: 3

Previous year’s record: 2018 season — sectional champs

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Yarency Murillo (all-conference and semi-state individual qualifier 2018), Gabrielle Foreman, Thalia Parson; Juniors — Erin Shoemaker, Megan Wallen (all-conference and semi-state individual qualifier 2018)

Other varsity candidates: Freshman — Elizabeth Christlieb


Head Coach: Staci Stahly

Number of years as head coach: 1

Previous year’s record: 14-4

Returning letterwinners: Senior — Lindsay Stoltzfus; Juniors — Deann Fry, Hannah Neff, Nicole Miller

Other varsity candidates: Junior — Raegan Bender; Freshman — Natalie Privett

Austin Hough can be reached at or at 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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