Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017 Lycoming Cross Country Preview: Off and running

Photo courtesy of Lycoming Sports Information
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – After 11 years as a volunteer assistant at Bucknell, Lycoming College cross country first-year head coach Kip Hoffman takes over a burgeoning women’s program with 13 runners and a talented men’s program that features five returning runners. Each team returns key runners, highlighted by two of the women’s program’s top 10 runners in program history in sophomore school-record holder Kaylee Long (Milton, Pa./Milton Area) and senior Rachel Fritz (Honesdale, Pa./Honesdale Area).

Armed with veteran experience and incoming talent, Hoffman is excited be a head coach once again while hoping to see improvement in his new program.

“I’m excited.  I haven’t been a head coach in more than 10 years so I’m excited to put my head coach hat back on and do it again,” Hoffman said. “My goal is to look for improvement from the team. It’s difficult with not having a track program for them to work year-around. Some of these guys haven’t raced since last fall. We just want them to improve.”

Women’s Preview
Despite losing seven seniors, Hoffman has a deep squad on the women’s side, headlined by nine returners and four newcomers.

One key is school-record holder Long, who finished first at Lycoming in each race in 2016. At the NCAA Mideast Regional, Long broke the school-record with a time of 24:01 to take 83rd. She finished in the top 10 three times, top 20 four times and the top 50 six times. Long finished in 25:22 to finish 34th at the MAC Championships, less than a minute of a top-20 finish and all-conference honors.

Another returner from the top of the lineup last season is senior captain Rachel Fritz(Honesdale, Pa./Honesdale). At the NCAA Mideast Regionals, she finished in career-best 25:57, the eighth-fastest in school-history. A MAC Academic Honor Roll Member, Fritz finished fourth on the team at the MAC Championships, taking 68th overall with a time of 26:39.6. The duo should form a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup as the team will look to improve on its ninth place finish at the MAC Championships.

“Kaylee Long’s our school-record holder, so she looks pretty good and Rachel Fritz has been looking good as a senior captain. She put in the work this summer and it’s showing in the workouts,” Hoffman said.

Senior Lindsay Smith (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) returns as one of the teams most experienced runners. Smith competed in in seven events while posting a career-best time of 27:24.9 to take 34th at the LVC Last Chance Run Fast. She finished fifth on the team at the MAC Championships, with a 28:26.1 and sixth on the team at the NCAA Mideast Regionals with a 28:29.
Sophomore Amanda Goulden (Wharton, N.J./Morris Hills) also returns and will be counted on at the top of the lineup. The MAC Academic Honor Roll selection ran a career-best 27:33.3 at the LVC Last Chance Run Fast. She ran a 28:50.4 to take 104th and sixth on the team at the MAC Championships while finishing 27:46 to take fifth on the team at the NCAA Mideast Regionals. 

Senior Rachel Ham (San Antonio, Texas./Home-schooled) returns to the program after running in six events in 2014-15, posting a career-best time of 29:58.70 at the Cairn Invitational in 2015. Senior Kaitlin Fair (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) returns for her second year in the program after competing in six events and running a career-best 30:02.24 at the Highland Invitational to take 43rd.
Junior Kaitlyn Barmore (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury), who nearly cut five minutes off her team between her first and final race last season, will continue provide depth to the team as will sophomore Kayla Nowak (Newtown, Conn./Newtown) who posted a season-best time of 33:09.4 at the Gettysburg Invitational.

Sophomores Keely Laidacker (Turbotville, Pa./Warrior Run) and Angelina Fernandez(Bartonsville, Pa./Pocono Mountain East), freshmen Annabelle Brinkerhoff (Milanville, Pa./Honesdale) and Valeria Malagon (Houston, Texas/Yes Prep Southwest) also join the squad.
“The women’s team with 13 girls give a little more flexibility,” Hoffman said. “If someone’s having a bad day, we have options and they can work together, too. The nice thing with that is you tend to get more groups, more athletes that are similar speeds that can work out together and push each other.”

Men’s Preview
With five runners returning from last year’s team that finished 42nd at the Mideast Regionals, the best mark in five years, the Warrior men will look to improve that mark as well as its 11th place finish at the MAC Championships.

One of the squads top runners from a season ago, sophomore Gustavo Vergara (Santa Ana, Calif./Valley) returns after three top-40 finishes in 2016. He finished fourth on the team in 32:02.6 to finish 113th at the MAC Championships. His best run was a 30:27 at the NCAA Regional was nearly four minutes better than his first race.

Senior Joseph Ingram (Lodi, Calif./Lodi) returns for his final season after posting a time of 31:46.1 at the MAC Championships, the third-best mark on the team. He then ran a 31:20 at the NCAA Mideast Regionals to finish fifth on the team. Seniors Sean Hastings (Levittown, Pa./Neshaminy) and Trenton Jones (Houston, Texas/KIPP Sunnyside) are two more experienced runners that return as Hastings ran in seven events while posting a season-best time of 31:51 at the NCAA Mideast Regionals to take 313th. He has the ability to drop under 30 minutes, posting a career-best time of 28:28.85 as a freshman. Jones ran in four events, finishing with a season-best time of 40:22.41 at the Messiah Invitational.

Junior Andrew Dion (Tiverton, R.I., Tiverton) ran in five events, posting a season-best time of 32:46.1 at the LVC Last Chance Run Fast.

Hoffman welcomes two freshmen to the squad in Daniel Moses (Cape May, N.J./Wildwood Catholic) and Maverick Stenger (Mifflinburg, Pa./Mifflinburg Area).

Moses ran cross country and track at Wildwood Catholic, earning team MVP honors his junior year for cross country. In track and field, Moses finished posted a personal-best 10:45.34 in the 3,200-yard run at his sectional meet. He has the ability to be one of the top runners on the squad this year, vying for the top spot with Vergara.

Stenger competed in four events in track and field while also running cross country for Mifflinburg Area High School. 

“Dan Moses is really doing well,” Hoffman said. “Gustavo has been doing really well for us, too. I think he’ll be our No. 2 guy. For having a small group, they’re still fairly close together. Joey’s going to be up there. Sean’s going to be up there, so there’s still a nice group of guys that are relatively close.”

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