A small roster that features only two returning letterwinners and five runners overall will prove to be an uphill battle for Bradford girls cross country, but strong turnout within the middle school program is providing optimism for the future.
“High school athletics are very cyclical. Some years sports numbers are high and some years are low. We have about eight eighth graders so the future looks very good,” said Bradford head coach Mark Kelley.
Three seniors came out for the team — letterwinner Alex Safran as well as Shea Crissman and Erica Marshall.
“Shea is out for her third year of cross country at the varsity level. She ran her freshman and sophomore year and has the ability to get back to where she was in those years,” Kelley said. “She had a very good track season and hopefully we can build on that.”
Safran is entering her fourth year of cross country at BAHS.
“She is a hard worker at practice and understands what is expected during the season. She always has a positive attitude and a nice role model for the younger girls to look up to,” Kelley said of the senior.
A third senior, Erica Marshall, will run in a limited number of meets for the Lady Owls, as she is also a member of the volleyball team.
“Erica is a talented athlete in many sports,” Kelley said. “She was able to get in a few quality workouts with us during the first few weeks of practice and she looked very good in those workouts.”
One junior letterwinner returns: two-time state qualifier Hannah Lary.
“Hannah is looking to get back to the state meet for the third straight year. She is a great competitor and had a great summer of training and first few weeks of practice,” Kelley said. “One aspect of our workouts that will really help her this year is two of our junior high runners are running with her in practice and they are all pushing each other. Our schedule will also allow Hannah to concentrate on the big invitationals.”
There is one freshman out for the team, Abbigail Schleicher.
“Abbi was a sprinter in junior high and has adapted well to the varsity cross country training. She has a great work ethic and positive attitude. After a few races, she will definitely start to adjust to the races,” Kelley said.
“We have had a good three weeks of practice. Our schedule is a little different this year with only two dual meets the first two weeks and the remaining schedule invitationals on Saturdays. This is going to allow us to be fresh and run our best at the big invitationals. We can use those days to get some very good quality workouts and focus on the invitationals and races at the end of the year.”
The lady owls opened the season this past Saturday at the McDowell Invitational and had their first run Tuesday at St. Marys.
The rest of the schedule follows:
10 - vs. DuBois/Northern Tier
14 - Bradford Invitational
21 - at Sharpsville Blue Devil Classic (Sharon)
28 - at McQuaid Invitational
5 - at Ridgway Invitational
12 - at Alden Bulldog Stampede
19 - Junior high championships (Kane)
26 - District 9 Championships (Ridgway)
2 - PIAA state meet (Hershey)