With nearly his entire varsity back, Northmor boys’ cross country coach Kevin Ruhl is hoping his team can run with the top squads in the area after finishing third in the KMAC last year and advancing to the regional meet.
Seniors Ryan Bentley, B.J. White, Chase Hoover, Mostyn Evans and Alec Moore and juniors Gavvin Keen and Austin Amens were all top-seven runners last year. Ruhl added that Evans ran as the team’s sixth or seventh runner last year while hurt, but is healthy this year.
All of those seven runners boast a lot of experience, being either two-year or three-year letter-winners. Last year, Keen was a first-team KMAC runner, while several others were either second team picks or received honorable mention. Meanwhile, the team only lost top-10 runner Kaleb Hart, so Ruhl feels his team potentially has a lot of depth.
“I would like to see our top 10 kids work to improve their best times from last season,” he said. “If we can do that, then we can compete with Fredericktown and Mount Gilead. They’re the teams to beat on the boys’ side. We think that we can hopefully get into their class by the end of the season.”
The girls’ team is smaller this year than in past seasons, but still has six returning letter-winners.
Juliana Ditullio, Sabrina Kelley and Carolyn McGaulley all have lettered twice, while Olivia Goodson, Julia Kanagy and Christy Wright have lettered once each.
The squad graduated Brooke Bennett, who had won multiple all-conference and all-district awards, but has added Maddison Yaussy and Bailey Snyder to provide a bit of depth to a team that finished fourth in the league, second at districts and sixth at regionals last year.
“We have a smaller team this year, so injuries are a concern,” said the coach. “What we do have is a group of girls that are committed to working hard and getting better. I’m very excited to coach this group and watch each runner improve each week.”
Yaussy is hoping those improvements can help his squad be competitive in a powerful KMAC.
“Our conference will be one of the toughest in the area,” he said. “Mount Gilead will be very good. In addition, Centerburg and Fredericktown will be very competitive as well.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS