By Bud Denega
ADA — Ohio Northern's women's cross-country team had to say goodbye to seven seniors last year. And while the upperclassmen's contributions will be missed, 11th-year head coach Jason Maus is excited about what his young runners can do in the 2019 season.
"We were really young last year," Maus said. "We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so I anticipate that this year's front group will be made up of sophomores and juniors, and I'm really excited about the women's team this year."
Plenty of firepower returns in 2019 to a lineup that finished fifth at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships. A pair of sophomores — Tessa Pitcovich (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) and Rue Whitmore (Mason) — who both earned All-OAC second-team honors after a couple top-20 finishes at the OAC Championships, will look to embrace an even more heightened position within the team this fall.
Senior, and three-year letter winner, Kathleen Colvin (Hilliard/Bishop Ready) brings a wealth of experience to the squad this year, while juniors Chyanne Retcher (Ney/Fairview) and Megan Wright (Eaton/Twin Valley South) both have a couple letters to their name. Other returning lettermen include senior Madeleine Routhier (West Unity/Hilltop) and sophomore Sophia Thompson (Sparta/Highland).
"I think they're excited to take the next step," Maus said. "They've seen the men win conference titles and be really competitive in the conference and region, and I think the women's team is ready to put their mark on it, as well. We've got a good nucleus of work ethic, and there's a lot of fire and passion. They're really competitive, and I think that will lead to some good things this fall."
Five freshmen will also join the team for the 2019 season.
The Polar Bears open the season at the Bluffton 5k Aug. 31. ONU will compete at the Ohio Wesleyan Invitational (Sept. 14) and at the All-Ohio Championships (Sept. 28) before the Louisville Classic (Oct. 5) and Oberlin Rumble (Oct. 19).
The month of November is home to the postseason meets. The OAC Championships will take place Nov. 2 in University Heights, while the Great Lakes Regional Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich. and the NCAA Championships in Louisville will be held Nov. 16 and 23, respectively.