PUNXSUTAWNEY — A young, but what is expected to be a highly competitive Punxsy girls' cross country team, will toe the starting line for the first time of the 2012 season this morning at the annual Big Valley Invitational.
“I’m excited to get the season started after three solid weeks of practice, and I assume the girls are ready to go as well,” said head coach George Wehrle. “You can find out a lot of things about your fitness at practice, but there’s nothing like a race to really let you know just where you stand.”
Expected to lead Punxsy today are senior Alexis Young and junior Juliann Boddorf, both of whom have been pacing the rest of the team on a regular basis in practice.
“Alexis and Juliann have separated themselves a bit from the other girls in practice, and I look for them to be our first two finishers on today,” said Wehrle. “Both girls are experienced, and I look for them to be somewhere near the top 20 at Big Valley, which is a very large invitational.”
Sophomore Ala Small, who, along with Young and Boddorf, was a state qualifier last season, looks to be Punxsy’s number three runner so far in the young season, according to Wehrle.
“Ala had a good summer of running and is highly motivated to do well, so I look for her to eventually move up closer to Alexis and Juliann as the season progresses. For now, she’s working on staying closer to our top two runners during the harder workouts.”
With five runners counting toward a team score in cross country, Punxsy is looking for a strong supporting cast behind their top three.
“Right now, we have a pretty nice group of girls who will be rounding out our varsity squad. This, of course, can and usually does change during the season,” said Wehrle.
This morning, freshman Korinne Young and sophomores Marissa Greenblatt and Logan Brooks will be filling out the varsity roster.
“These three girls, along with sophomore Kaston Mohney, have consistently shown to be our 'second pack', and I hope to see other girls move up and push for a varsity spot as well,” said Wehrle. “The competition among the team should make everyone better.”
While the remainder of Punxsy’s roster of 12 will be competing in the junior varsity race today, they will have every opportunity to compete for a varsity spot in the coming weeks.
“This year’s team looks pretty solid from top to bottom, so I can certainly see some girls who run junior varsity on today running varsity later in the season.”
Among the girls aiming to move up throughout the year are juniors Tamera Anthony and Kayla Carpenter, along with sophomore Elissa Hill.
“Kayla, Tamera and Elissa have all run among our top seven at some point in their cross country careers, and they all have the potential to do so again this year," stated Wehrle. “I have seen good things from each of them in practice, and now they just need to carry that over to when they race.”
Freshman runners Beth Barnett and Kara Kunselman have also shown flashes of promise in the early season and should make huge improvements in September and October.
With the competitive season about to begin, several goals await the Punxsy runners in 2012.
“I think I speak for the girls when I say that we want to be a competitive team, but our main focus will be on improving and becoming the best team we can possibly be, and we want to have fun doing it,“ concluded Wehrle.
Both Punxsy boys' and girls' cross country teams will make their first home appearance on Tuesday running against Elk Country Catholic starting at 4:15 p.m.