The Pettisville boys and girls cross country teams should have decent seasons as they each return multiple letter winners.
The Lady Blackbirds should perform especially well as they return three all-conference performers from last year’s BBC championship team.
“We have nice numbers,” said head cross country coach Tom Wagner. “We have a talented, hard working, and experienced group of runners. They know what it takes to be competitive.”
Coming back for the Blackbirds are Alexa Leppelmeier (state qualifier), Nichole Foor (state qualifier), Elizabeth Miller (first team All-BBC), Sarah Herring, Krystine Davis, Natalie Hoffmire, Jaelyn Rufenacht and Andi Aeschliman. Both Leppelmeier and Foor also made first team All-BBC, in addition to Leppelmeier being a two-time conference MVP.
The only letter winner lost was Grace Friend.
“We should be very competitive with other small schools,” said Wagner.
The Birds will look to keep injuries at a minimum.
“As on any team, we have to focus on staying healthy,” commented Wagner. “We have to set team and individual goals, and keep our eyes firmly focused on those goals.”
In regards to the BBC, coach Wagner knows that it will difficult to remain on top.
“Hilltop will be the team to beat,” he said. “They were very competitive with us last year. We should be in the hunt for the BBC title.”
The Pettisville boys have seven letter winners back, but with several first year runners it is unknown how formidable they will be.
“We have pretty good numbers and some pretty talented first year runners,” stated Wagner. “We hope to learn and grow as the season progresses, to be the best we can be in achieving both individual and team goals. We hope to have a great deal of fun too.”
The coach hopes that his newcomers can adjust quickly.
“They are going to have to step up to the challenge and learn quickly,” he said.
Returning for the Birds are Clay Waidelich, Nathan Siller, Evan Rufenacht, Ben Gray, Seth Brakefield, Aaron Bontrager and Evan Warner.
They will have to replace the likes of Jacob Hauter (first team All-BBC) and Kyle Lantz (first team All-BBC).
In the conference, Fayette will be a tough team to surpass, said Wagner.
“Fayette is for the sure the team to beat in the conference,” he said. “They were dominate in the BBC last year and have many returning this year. We hope to gain experience as the year progresses.”
Pettisville finished second in the BBC in 2014.
The Blackbirds open the season at the Defiance Early Bird Invitational on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010