Cardington runners ready for season

When looking at his boys’ cross country team, veteran coach Erik Kyrk sees a balance of experienced and inexperienced runners.

The team has four lettermen, but also five freshmen. Returning are seniors Spencer Benson and Quinn Maceyko and sophomores Racine Hallabrin and Andrew Schoppelrei. Maceyko has earned both all-conference and all-district honors in the past.

New to the team is a large freshman class that includes state middle school two-mile champ Mason White, as well as Devin Gheen, Kaleb Meade, Sam West and Gauge Higgins.

“We have senior leadership,” said Kyrk. “The team has made solid improvement from our first meet to our second meet. Hopefully the trend will continue. However, inexperienced runners make up the majority of the team; they will have to learn and grow on the go.”

While the boys’ team only lost Greg Osborne and Sonny Grooms from last year’s team, the girls’ squad had more defections, as Jessica Shook, Bailey Shafer, Casey Bertke, Lesley Reed and Emily Benson all won’t be on the team this year.

This leaves the Pirates with a six-girl team. Seniors Sage Brannon and Alicia McElwee, junior Ashlee Drury and sophomore Taylor Linkous return, while freshmen Marlo Young and Maddie Brehm join the squad.

“We have senior leadership and the underclassmen are working hard for the seniors,” said Kyrk. “Our weaknesses are depth — not a lot of numbers. Injuries could be a problem, as we had key losses to other sports, etc.”

Regardless of whether it’s the boys’ or girls’ race in the conference, Kyrk noted that Mount Gilead probably should be considered the frontrunner.

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;

Pictured is the boys’ cross country team at Cardington. is the boys’ cross country team at Cardington. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

The 2017 Cardington girls’ cross country team is in the above picture. 2017 Cardington girls’ cross country team is in the above picture. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS