The Pettisville cross country team loses only one letter winner apiece on the boys and girls sides, each looking to continue their success from a year ago.
The Blackbirds return a total of 10 girls. Back for Pettisville are Elise Hoylman, Renee Hoylman, Kelly Wyse, Sophie Sterken, Grace Remington, Kendall Sears, Kate Roth, Lauren Shumaker, Madison Remington and Emily VanDenBerghe.
Gone from last year is Clara Damman.
“With the right mentality and the commitment to put in the work, we are training to have a fun and successful season. We’ve set forth some great team and individual goals, and we are looking forward to having the opportunity to put ourselves into position to achieve these goals,” explained head coach Gabe Jaramillo.
“I am eagerly anticipating the start of the season as I can already tell how much time was put in the offseason by these girls. After the late season successes we had last year, they are seemingly hungrier than ever to prove themselves among the top teams and compete to the best of their abilities,” he added.
The Pettisville girls were district champions in Division III and took 11th at the Tiffin Regional. That success should pay dividends this season.
“The returning members of the team have a strong understanding of what it takes to have a highly successful season. We understand the importance of physically and mentally navigating ‘the grind’ with a relaxed yet focused determination,” said Jaramillo on strengths for the girls team.
All of their returning girls played a big role in helping the Birds win the Buckeye Border Conference title in 2021. They will be looking to repeat as champs this season.
“The BBC is shaping up to be a great league race. We have some great talent with some great coaches leading the way,” noted Jaramillo. “Holgate is returning their top 5 runners from last year, while Fayette will be adding some freshmen that will immediately contribute to their existing core. The goal is for a repeat championship, but we understand the difficulty of doing so with the overall quality of our league.”
Back for the boys squad are Zach McWatters, Caden Bishop, Jayden Bleikamp, Trenton Moyer, Luke VanDenBerghe, Carlos Bowers and Alex Bolaney.
“This is a fun and motivated team that is looking to put its own mark on the Pettisville cross country traditions,” said Jaramillo of his boys. “They have gone above and beyond to put themselves into position to have a successful season. Ultimately, the success of the team is going to come down to how determined they stay throughout the season and how they handle the bumps along the way.
“This group of guys is an exciting group to coach. Never a dull moment with this group and I love to see the fire burning within them to achieve more. They know the importance of hard work and are willing and wanting to put in the effort to improve themselves in this sport.”
Pettisville was fourth at the Division III district meet last year, one spot shy of advancing as a team to the regional. Their successes have made them more self-assured this season.
“This is a hungry group of boys that are working hard to prove themselves. They are a confident group that believes in the training and believes in their physical abilities. We have strong leadership with a firm grasp of accountability,” explained the Blackbird coach.
The Birds were third behind Holgate and Fayette at last year’s BBC meet.
“As with the girls, competing in the BBC will prove to be a demanding task,” admitted Jaramillo. “Holgate and Fayette will once again put together great teams and efforts, but we are challenging ourselves to be competitive among the top of the league.”
Pettisville is set to compete in the Defiance Early Bird Open this Saturday starting at 9 a.m.