CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW: With Weinfeld, Dillon graduated, area is up for grabs

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

THE GIRLS

With the graduation of the Sun’s runner of the year, Lemon Bay’s Abby Weinfeld, there’s an opening for someone to take over the top spot in the area.

Will Weinfeld’s former teammate Kelsi Ogilvie be the new lead dog? Or will Charlotte sophomore Isabella Coogan continue to make great strides following a stellar freshman year?

It could even be one of the girls from North Port, who will look to respond after a heartbreaking finish to the end of the cross country season in which they just barely missed out on qualifying for the state meet.

As for complete teams, the Bobcats, Tarpons, Manta Rays, Port Charlotte Pirates and DeSoto County Bulldogs all have lofty expectations. Some think a district title could be achieved, others fully expect to make an appearance at the state championships.

NORTH PORT
COACH: Jennifer Reed
LAST SEASON: 7th place at regionals
DISTRICT: 4A-8 (Countryside, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, North Port, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Riverview, Saint Petersburg, Sarasota, Seminole)
KEY RETURNERS: Lindsay Boethig, Kaley Boethig, Darielle Costa, Shelby Cutchineal, Kayla Dennis, Aubrey Kirsch, Emily Rumisek
KEY NEWCOMERS: Alexis Smith, Kate Rumisek, Cayla Naylor, Taylor Cooper
OUTLOOK: The skill is there, now they just need to prove how bad they want to make it to states. The heartbreak from last year should carry over and act as motivation to get them there. A group of them had a strong showing in the track and field season, which could prove to be momentum for 2016 cross country.

CHARLOTTE
COACH: Chris Robishaw
LAST SEASON: 15th at states
DISTRICT: 3A-11 (Cape Coral, Charlotte, Cypress Lake, Fort Myers, Ida S. Baker, Island Coast, Lehigh, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Riverdale, South Fort Myers)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Hope Kanagy, Erin Roche
KEY RETURNERS: Isabella Coogan, Katie Kanagy, Alexa Roughton, Brittney Smith, Natalie Russel
KEY NEWCOMERS: Victoria Simeone
OUTLOOK: The Tarpons are young, but experienced. A pair of sophomores in Coogan and Roughton have great varsity experience, and will make big impacts. Kanagy is the elder statesman of the team now. Look for her leadership to help mold some of the younger runners as Charlotte expects to make it back to states.

PORT CHARLOTTE
COACH: Bethany Heslam
LAST SEASON: 7th place at districts
DISTRICT: 3A-11 (Cape Coral, Charlotte, Cypress Lake, Fort Myers, Ida S. Baker, Island Coast, Lehigh, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Riverdale, South Fort Myers)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Melessa Gutierrez
KEY RETURNERS: Izzy Reyes, Jocelyn Ramos, Amy Quinones, Brittany McGivern,
KEY NEWCOMERS: Alden Goucher, Abby Chambers
OUTLOOK: Three of the four returners were on the Pirates’ 4×400 relay team in track which made it to regionals last year. That means this team has experienced success, now it’s just time to see if that can translate to the cross country season. Expect them to improve upon last year’s season, as a sophomore -heavy team now knows what to expect at the varsity level.

LEMON BAY
COACH: Tom Trealout/Joe Casale
LAST SEASON: 8th place at states
DISTRICT: 2A-11 (Bayshore, Booker, Clearwater Central Catholic, Gibbs, Lakewood, Lemon Bay, Sarasota Military Academy, Southeast)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Abigayle Weinfeld, Rebecca Thompson
KEY RETURNERS: Kelsi Ogilvie, Kristen Robinson, Maddison Welch
KEY NEWCOMERS: Megan Carly, Chloe Mitchell, Sheridan Craft
OUTLOOK: Ogilvie, Welch and Robinson will be a trio to reckon with this season. They’re likely three of the top seven runners in the region. The determining factor for the Manta Rays is how well their Nos. 4-6 runners perform. Don’t expect any dropoff from last year’s team that made it all the way to states.

DESOTO COUNTY
COACH: Julie Chidsey
LAST SEASON: 11th place at regionals
DISTRICT: 2A-9 (Avon Park, DeSoto County, Frostproof, Hardee, Lake Placid, Lake Wales, McKeel Academy of Technology, Mulberry)
KEY RETURNERS: Viki Ramirez, Esperanza Gonzalez, Kaylyn Castro, Juana Ruiz, Tessa Paredes, Vianney Manriquez
KEY NEWCOMERS: Micaela Ruiz, Lupita Manriquez
OUTLOOK: Chidsey is thrilled with the potential her team has this season. It returns nearly all of last season’s team, with some newcomers fighting to join the top-five rotation. The Bulldogs have their sights on a district title. Pack running will be key for the Bulldogs, as they’re fairly consistent one through six.

THE BOYS

Just like with the girls, last year’s Sun’s runner of the year, Marshall Dillon, has graduated. That now opens the door for someone in the area to take his role as the area’s best.

For Charlotte, Dillon’s role has been filled by Kyle Shirley, who finished 22nd at last year’s regional meet, and is now the centerpiece of the Tarpons’ team. Shirley is surrounded by a largely inexperienced group at the varsity level, but it appears to be very talented.

In North Port, expectations are as high as they’ve ever been. The Bobcats could achieve anything they want, including a medal at the state championship, but have to continue growing from what they built last year.

Port Charlotte has been inexperienced in the past, but it looks like things have come together this year, as the Pirates look to take the next step with a large core returning from 2015. The Pirates missed out on regionals last year, but they see themselves making it this season.

Things are a little different for Lemon Bay this year. Graduation took a heavy toll in the spring, so this is a rebuilding year. Plenty of newcomers will look to gain experience at the varsity level.

CHARLOTTE
COACH: Chris George
LAST SEASON: 7th place at regionals
DISTRICT: 3A-11 (Cape Coral, Charlotte, Cypress Lake, Fort Myers, Ida S. Baker, Island Coast, Lehigh, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Riverdale, South Fort Myers)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Marshall Dillon, Chris Daniele, Jonathan Heitman, Chauncey Graham, Sean Gill, Michael Papa
KEY RETURNERS: Kyle Shirley, Troi Kari McClary, Colby Spencer, Jensen Desguin, Noah Lamborn
KEY NEWCOMERS: Jake Lille, Mason Cronin
OUTLOOK: How do you replace Marshall Dillon? You can’t. But you hope somebody steps up to help fill that void. Looks like Kyle Shirley will be No. 1 this year for the Tarpons, and will be the leader on a fairly young team. Shirley was part of the team that barely missed a state berth last year, so don’t expect him to forget that feeling when he helps will his teammates to the next level.

NORTH PORT
COACH: Phu Nguyen
LAST SEASON: 18th place at states.
DISTRICT: 4A-8 (Countryside, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Sarasota-Riverview, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Petersburg)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Ben Durrant, Kevin Shahan, Philip Cutchineal
KEY RETURNERS: Dillon Garrett, CJ Moody, Louie Dietrich, Kevin Kapadia, Evan Weisberger
KEY NEWCOMERS: Javi Amaya
STRENGTH: Experience
OUTLOOK: Flrunners.com ranked the Bobcats No. 2 in the state of all the 4A teams so expectations are high in North Port. They want to be on the podium when the state meet is all said and done. In the program’s history, they’ve only won one meet. Adding a few wins to that total would be a nice way to build momentum leading up to states.

LEMON BAY
COACH: Joe Casale/Tom Trealout
LAST SEASON: 15th place at states
DISTRICT: 2A-11 (Bayshore, Booker, Clearwater Central Catholic, Gibbs, Lakewood, Lemon Bay, Sarasota Military Academy, Southeast)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Myles Rittenhouse, Wyatt Chandler, Brian Delaney
KEY RETURNERS: None
KEY NEWCOMERS: Henry Fink, Amir Deirb, Tyler Morgan, Harley Rusher
OUTLOOK: The Manta Rays were extremely senior-heavy last season, and as a result, they have virtually a brand new team. This will be a rebuilding year for Lemon Bay. Fink joins the team from Illinois, and Rusher has never competed in cross country. There’s always a chance they will surprise themselves and make it to regionals, but most of the work this year will have the purpose of building for a strong 2017.

PORT CHARLOTTE
COACH: Ray Chumbley
LAST SEASON: 7th place at districts
DISTRICT: 3A-11 (Cape Coral, Charlotte, Cypress Lake, Fort Myers, Ida S. Baker, Island Coast, Lehigh, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Riverdale, South Fort Myers)
KEY RUNNERS LOST: Hayden Wilder
KEY RETURNERS: Jean Bateau, Michael Balseca, John Perez-Dunn, Zac Catron, Carson Baras, Kaden Weitzel
KEY NEWCOMERS: None
OUTLOOK: There have been big improvements over the summer compared to last year’s team. They’re more experienced now and ready to make the next step. The state meet always is a goal for the Pirates, but they need to first work on getting to regionals, which is very realistic this season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s