With most of their roster being made up of newcomers, it may be difficult for Delta cross country to have much team success this season. However, they will look to accomplish as much as possible from an individual standpoint.
“We have several outstanding individual runners who will try to achieve first or second team (all-)league honors and will try to advance to the OHSAA regional tournament or beyond,” said head coach Lee Mitchell.
Back for the Panther boys are Nick Sherick, who was second team All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League and a regional qualifier in 2019. On the girls side they return Jenna Hallett who placed 26th at the league meet a year ago, plus Keirsten Culler who took 44th.
Newcomers for the boys are junior Gray Dunford and freshmen Ethan Cone, Blake Hilton, Mace Reckner and Wes Dunford. The girls are adding sophomore Leigh Morris.
“We have very good senior leadership from boys captain, Nick Sherick, a three-time regional qualifier and girls captain, Jenna Hallett, a regional qualifier in 2017,” said Mitchell on strengths of his team. “Senior Keirsten Culler splits time with varsity soccer. Remaining team members are young and inexperienced but eager and all are running high school cross country for the first time.”
The Panthers will have to replace four-time letter winner Walker Sniegowski from the boys team.
“We will need to train smart to have all boys healthy and achieve a team score for the first time since 2018 at NWOAL (meet). Girls will not be able to achieve a team score (need five runners) at NWOAL and have not had a team score since 2017. Lack of numbers and depth are very obvious problems,” Mitchell said on weaknesses for the season.
Pertaining to the league race, of course with not being able to field 2 full teams, the Panthers will use this year’s meet as a learning experience going forward.
“The NWOAL is a very competitive conference for cross country every year and Liberty Center boys and girls routinely make runs in the state tournament,” said Mitchell of the league. “Our middle school cross country program is solid this year and we will try to build from that to have complete and more competitive teams in the future.”
Delta opens the season at the Defiance Early Bird Open on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.