The Wittenberg University men’s and women’s cross country teams head into the 2005 season faced with a good problem – more than enough runners vying for the top varsity spots. Bolstered by a talented freshman class, both teams boast the deepest rosters in years as they prepare to open the season at Franklin College on Sept. 3.
On the women’s side, the team have great depth and talent with nearly all letterwinners returning from the 2004 season now joined by an accomplished group of freshmen and several runners who have returned to the team after missing last season. The team has high hopes of improving upon last year’s eighth-place finish in the North Coast Athletic Conference in 2004.
Key returning letterwinners include sophomores Mary Beth Lintz (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont) and Alissa Goble (Sunfield, Mich./ Lakewood), juniors Jessica McClish (Shelby, Ohio/Shelby) and Meredith Deitsch (Edgerton, Ohio/Edgerton) and senior Sarah Gearhart (Wilmington, Ohio/Greenon). Lintz and Goble, both sophomores, were the top two runners for the Tigers last season, posting outstanding times of 21:19 and 21:30 respectively for the 5000 meter run (5k).
Back in the fold in 2005 are seniors Anna Finkelstein (Whitehall, Mich./Reeths-Puffer) and Stephanie DiPalma (Bethlehem, Pa./Freedom) and junior Christine Maddox (Miamisburg,Ohio/Miamisburg), all of whom were absent in the 2004 season. Also new to the 2005 roster are two sophomores who previously played basketball at Wittenberg and a five-person recruiting class.
Freshmen Jennifer Bostelman (Napoleon, Ohio/Napoleon),Erin Hedrick (Springfield, Ohio/ Shawnee), Abby McCutcheon (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) and Jessica Rizzo (Benningtor, Ind./South Dearborn) were state qualifiers during their prep careers. Hedrick and Rizzo were first-team all-conference selections, while McCutcheon was an All-Ohio honoree as a senior. All are expected to make significant contributions in 2005.
The men’s team has the earmarks of a much improved outfit in 2005 with the return the team’s top six runners from last season. Senior Chris Petrik (Highland Heights, Ohio/Mayfield) and sophomore Mike Echols (Springfield, Ohio/North)are the team leaders as the Tigers look to improve upon their ninth-place finish in the 2004 NCAC Championships. Echols ran a season-best of 27:33 and led the Tigers in every race in 2004, while Petrik was a close second with a time of 27:53 for 8,000 meters (8k).
Sophomores David Wallingford (Bellevue, Ohio/Bellevue), Mike Wismer (Avon, Ohio/Avon), Shawn Hils (Hiram,Ohio/Crestwood) and Jon Dewald (Mansfield, Ohio/Senior), all 2004 letterwinners, are again expected to make significant contributions to the team’s success in 2005.
Freshmen Gabe Savage (Lewisburg, Ohio/Tri-County North), James Lewis (Solon, Ohio/Solon) and Mike Phillips (Dover, Ohio/Dover) and sophomore Fadi Michael (Aleppo, Syria/ICARDA International) appear to be the team’s top newcomers, all of whom are expected to vye for spots in the team’s top seven runners.