2020 Fall Preview: Warren Cross Country

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Team: Warren Cross Country
Coach: Kevin Dustin, 8th season. Girls-50-14, Boys-45-19
Assistant coaches: Elizabeth Dustin
2019 overall record: Girls-7-1, Boys 7-1
2019 league record: Girls-7-1, Boys 7-1
Postseason results: Boys 11th, Girls 3rd at District 10 Championships. Katie Beyer (7th) and Naomi Hahn (9th) qualified and competed at PIAA Cross Country State Championships in Hershey.

Roster (*notes letter winner)
Seniors: Nina Clarke
Juniors: Katie Beyer*, Kaelah Knupp, Will Strassburg
Sophomores: Matthew Collins, Louis Flatt, Tyler Gern, Carmen Moore, Shyann Rulander*, John Seyler
Freshmen: Hugh Harrison, Kasey Kophazy, Aidan Zdarko, Ryan Fitzsimmons

(Photo courtesy Warren Athletics Fund.)

The Warren cross country team will be a little light in upperclassmen this season, but has a number of promising new comers who could make an immediate impact.

The Dragons lost a lot from last season’s squad with seniors Devon Navaroli, Nick Gorton and Brett Sowa moving on from the boys team, while the girls lost a pair of multi-time state qualifiers in Bri Ristau (twice) and Naomi Hahn (four times).

The girls will have one state qualifier back as junior Katie Beyer returns after bursting on the scene as a sophomore.

Head coach Kevin Dustin, in his eighth season, is expecting good things out of the incoming freshmen class.

“Our freshmen have been running over the summer and could surprise us,” he said. “Time will tell, but looking strong early are Hugh Harrison and Kasey Kophazy.”

That the freshmen are coming in strong shows Dustin their level of dedication. Due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, and the delayed start to the fall season, runners were left primarily to their own devices to get in shape for the season.

“Since we were not able to meet as often the students had to be more self accountable,” Dustin said. “This does teach them a lot about commitment and individual drive. It’s hard to go out and run hard every day without the team doing it with you, so the kids that were able to do this found a lot of strength in themselves they might not have known otherwise.”

Those changes and delays did cause the Dragons to miss out on some of their traditional team-bonding exercises.

“We weren’t able to do our yearly team bonding trip, which is something I think the kids always look forward to,” Dustin said.

Preseason camp isn’t the only place where the Dragons will see changes. Due to District 10’s region realignment and scheduling, teams will only compete in dual meets (no invitationals), will often race twice per week and have new teams on the schedule.

“This will be very different from the races we would normally get into,” Dustin said.

Both the boys and girls will compete in Region 6 against Eisenhower, Franklin, Oil City, Rocky Grove, Titusville and Youngsville, and Dustin sees some intriguing matchups coming from this slate.

“For our girls, it will be exciting to go against Oil City,” he said. “Our boys are looking forward to matching up against Eisenhower. Both showed strong teams last season and will present the most challenging matchups.”

Even with all the changes, Warren remains consistent in the way it defines a successful season.

“We are still trying to have the most winning region season we can,” Dustin said. “We want to finish well at the D-10 Championships and hope to qualify some individuals for the PIAA State Championships.”

The updated schedule can be seen here.