Blackbirds aim to defend Buckeye Border Conference cross country crown

By Max Householder -

Pettisville cross country has some runners back with experience competing at the state meet, as they look forward to a successful season in 2018.

On the girls side, the Blackbirds return six athletes, including five who ran at state a season ago. Two boys return with experience running at state.

“The team will be competitive in the meets we run and will be optimistic come tournament time,” said first-year head coach Gabe Jaramillo of his girls.

Returning letter winners for the girls are Kate Stuber (first team All-Buckeye Border Conference), Kelly Miller (first team All-BBC), Sarah Foor (second team All-BBC), Ava Hoylman (honorable mention All-BBC), Morgan Leppelmeier and Ellie Wixom.

“Experience and numbers will be a major aspect of the team this year,” Jaramillo explained. “Many of the girls have run at the state meet in consecutive years and know what it takes to compete. They are a hardworking group with the ability to set and achieve their goals.”

But, the Birds will have to replace a pair of All-Ohio runners. Elizabeth Sauder was seventh at the state meet a season ago, while Nichole Foor placed 23rd. Also gone are Sarah Herring and Katie Hauter.

“This team must learn to set out on its own path and remain focused on achieving their goals,” said the coach.

Pettisville will have a good shot at repeating as BBC champions.

“The team expects to compete for the BBC championship,” said Jaramillo of the girls league race.

The Pettisville boys also won the league in 2017, and with the quality of runners returning, look for them to be in the mix this season.

“The team looks forward to putting together a competitive season with optimistic hopes of a successful tournament run,” said Jaramillo of his boys.

Notable returnees are Max Leppelmeier and Logan Rufenacht who were state qualifiers a year ago, Calvin Nofziger (second team All-BBC), and Caleb Nolander.

“We have a hard-working and determined team this year,” said Jaramillo. “They are a competitive group that pushes each other at every practice. Our returning experience will play a key role in how the season progresses. They are a talented team with the savvy to attain their goals.”

Depth and a lack of numbers are weaknesses for the boys team. They will have to replace Jaret Rychener (first team All-BBC), Jake Myers (honorable mention All-BBC), and Evan Warner.

“The team is looking forward to enjoy this season and putting their best efforts into it,” concluded Jaramillo.

Pettisville is at the Otsego Invitational this Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

By Max Householder

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010