East Clinton’s girls were the champions of the National Division last season, claiming the top spot in one of the closest races in recent memory. The Astros had 61 points with Georgetown at 62, Clermont Northeastern at 65 and Bethel-Tate at 65.
Kaitlyn Gregory, who was the girls soccer player of the year, won the National Division race by more than a minute over EC’s Carah Antek.
Western Brown dominated the American side with Natalie Rice winning runner of the year honors and four other underclassmen joining her on the first-team squad.
East Clinton was the fourth different school to win the National title last season. Western Brown has won three of the last four American crowns, with Wilmington’s 2019 effort the lone blip on the Bronco radar.
On the boys side, a total of 12 of the 16 first-team All-SBAAC boys runners in both divisions last season were underclassmen.
Among the returning runners are runners of the year Caleb Ware of Western Brown and Summit Northrup of Clermont Northeastern.
Goshen has three first teams expected to return in the American while CNE has two other first-team picks aside from Northrup.
Bethel-Tate has won seven straight National Division championships while the American Division has had four different champions over the past five seasons.
Tiffany Wyss is the head coach for the Blanchester cross country program.
Emma Damewood was second team All-SBAAC National Division last year as a sophomore.
Brett Bandow was a junior last season and earned first team honors for the Wildcats. Nick Musselman was a second teamer.
Dean Richardson is in his 25th season as the head coach of the Clinton-Massie cross country program.
Emma Muterspaw, now at Taylor University, had a solid distance career at CMSH but has graduated, leaving Richardson without his top runner over the past three seasons.
Jacob Ryan, just a sophomore, was the top runner for the Massie boys in 2020, claiming second team all-league honors. Bryce Hensley is the other returner for the CM boys.
“We have a good group of young runners,” Richardson said. “We need to continue to work our way in to shape. We hope to recruit more runners once school starts.”
Trey Brewer and Carson McDowell round out the boys roster. Dakota Cartner is the lone girl currently on the HS roster.
There are four boys and five girls in the CM Middle School cross country program.
There are 13 returning runners for the East Clinton cross country teams this fall.
Bill Hrabak, in his 6th year, is the head coach for the Astros. He’ll be assisted by Bob Henson (9th year) and Justin Simmons (1st year).
Carah Anteck was joined on the first team by Molly Seabaugh and Kaylyn Deaton on second team. None were seniors so the Astros should again be in the thick of things in the National Division race. Anteck was the overall race runnerup in 2020.
Justin Arnold is a senior at EC and was the top Astros runner last season on the boys side. Zack Vest also returns.
Jacob George, a freshman, set the junior high school record in the 400-meter run last year and is a newcomer who could have an impact. Elyon Hackman is showing promise in his first year of cross country, Hrabak said.
Also, Mya Anteck may return to the girls team for select races when she is not participating in tennis, Hrabak said.
In all, Hrabak said, he’s coached five seniors (Carah Anteck, Kenton Deaton, Justin Arnold, Zack Vest and Van Frye) since the seventh grade. “They bring a lot of leadership, maturity and experience to the squad,” the coach said.
Hrabak said his team must improve its speed over the final portion of the 3.1 mile race.
“As a team, our weakness is our finishes over the last two years,” said Hrabak. “This is where we’ve lost a lot of places in the last 800 meters of the race.”
Hrabak said the girls can repeat as league champions with good health and a full lineup of runners. The boys will contend if the four seniors post “top-notch” performances and some of the younger runners step up.
“It has truly been a pleasure to work with these fine athletes,” said Hrabak. “This is a group of kids who excel at academics, as well as athletics, and set a great example for all of their classmates at school to strive to be the best in everything they do.”
Karen Heslop has eight returning runners for the Wilmington High School boys and girls cross country teams.
Sophie Huffman was runnerup in the American Division girls race to Rice of WB but suffered an injury during basketball and missed the rest of her sophomore season. She is not returning to the team this fall.
Madilyn Brausch joined Huffman with first-team honors last year and will be a sophomore in 2021.
Garrett Stoffer was a second team runner as a sophomore last season. Josh Andrews graduated and was the lone WHS first-team runner. He returns to WHS as an assistant coach this season. Tyler Preston also graduated in the spring.
Heslop said newcomers Henry Hildebrandt and Trevor Billingsley are both joining the cross country program “from other sports where they held leadership roles. We are looking forward to their continued leadership and positive presence to our younger and new runners.”
Heslop said both boys and girls teams should be solid this season but she’d like to see more girls, at the middle school and high school, join the team.
“This team is more of a family,” she said. “We don’t separate middle and high school runners, therefore it gives the upperclassmen the chance to mentor to our younger and new runners.”