Cross Country Enters 2012 with Championship Aspirations

Cross Country Enters 2012 with Championship Aspirations

Within the past two years, the Susquehanna men's and women's cross country teams have experienced both the elation of winning championships and the disappointment of falling short in championship meets. The squads are less than a year removed from the memory of those non-championship seasons and are aiming to put the 2012 teams back on the path to reclaiming the Landmark Conference titles.

On paper, head coach Marty Owens believes his 2012 men's squad might be the deepest team he has fielded in his nine full seasons at the helm of the program.

He returns several key contributors and welcomes a talented and deep freshman class. Among those key returners who enter the season at full strength are Alex Price, Colby Brindle, Sal D'Angelo and Brandon Mash. With solid preseasons and no nagging injuries, they are expected to lead the young team and push the group to compete for the title.

Paul Crowe, a sophomore, is projected to be in the running for the individual conference title and has the talent to compete for an individual spot in nationals. Classmate Evan Skelton will also add depth as a key returner this fall.
 
Owens is confident all of his freshmen have the potential to battle for the top seven spots. The team is young with just two seniors on its rosters, but that gives the freshmen and younger runners plenty of opportunities to develop and gain collegiate racing experience.

Among those freshmen vying for top spots are John Crowe, Daniel Isenberg, Colin Ebarhardt, Franky Mills and Sage Weikel.

The focus of the season will be on preparing for the Landmark Conference Championship meet on Oct. 27, hosted by Juniata. Owens expects the first true test to come on Sept. 22 at Lock Haven, a fast, flat course.

The story is similar on the women's side with a key group of returners back in the mix and four talented freshmen adding depth, especially late in the season.

Carol Giblin, Michelle Kraske, Carly Bass, Sarah Dickerson and Rachel Mack, all seniors, bring three years of experience, leadership and one championship to the table.

Four freshmen could push to secure a top-seven spot in the team in Diane Lindenmuth, Allison Kriskewic, Rachel Bachman and Ashley West.

As will be his approach with the men's team, Owens' goal is to ensure the women's focus remains on the championship meet where they are expected to put together their best performances of the season.

The Lock Haven meet will be a solid litmus test for the women who are undoubtedly deep and if a breakaway runner emerges during the season, they could finish very high in the conference.

"Both teams are motivated and focused," Owens said. "They are hungry to get back to winning championships but my job throughout the season is making sure they stay focused and gear all their efforts towards the championship meet."