|A youthful women's cross country team will count on the senior leadership of co-captains Adrian Rowan (above) and Julia Garcia.|
Perhaps the youngest women's cross country team head coach Dennis Rice has had during his 27-year tenure at The College of Wooster hits the course this fall. Yet the promise is there for the squad to develop in time for highly-successful runs at the conference and regional meets.
"The team shows a lot of potential," said Rice. "The key to our success is being patient with our overall development as we progress from the summer, to preseason, to midseason, and to the championship portion of the year. I'm confident by the time we get to mid-to-late October that we will be primed and ready to go. We will be ready to challenge the top teams in the conference and region."
Junior Kayla Zboran will look to lead the way. She enters the season with a pair of top-30 North Coast Athletic Conference finishes, including 22nd as a first-year – one spot shy of all-conference honors.
"Kayla definitely is capable of being all-conference and all-region," confirmed Rice. "She does have opportunities, and has shown that she is capable of maybe getting to the next level, if everything falls into place for her. She's always performed great later in the season."
Seniors Adrian Rowan and Julia Garcia will serve as team captains for 2015. Rowan earned her initial letter by being a part of the 12-runner contingent at last year's NCAC Championships, while Garcia rejoins the team after studying abroad last fall.
"Adrian has improved each and every season that she's been here," said Rice. "She had a great season last fall. She's somebody as a senior who I feel is committed to the program. She's another one that's ready to challenge a be a part of that top-seven."
A pair of rising sophomores will look to continue to make an impact in Ashley Ferguson and Mackenzie Kellar. Both earned letters in their first years, with Kellar putting forth a top-15 finish at the Otterbein Invitational.
"Those two had excellent years last year," added Rice. "The key to our success is can we develop our runners from one through seven, and become consistent with that group during the course of the season. (That will) enhance our chances at the championship meets to perform at a high level."
"Mackenzie had a great track and field season," he continued. "She had great success (all-conference in the distance medley relay) and made improvements, and will carry that over to the cross country season. I expect to see a great improvement from her from the previous fall. She indicates she has the ability of running with the top women in the conference."
Junior Emily Reid, who battled injuries in 2014, will look to return to full strength. She finished 29th at the conference meet as a first-year.
"Emily is what we consider a key to our team success," said Rice. "If she can get back at a level she competed at as a first-year, that really will improve our chances team-wise at the championship meets."
Rounding out the returners to keep an eye on are juniors Megan Koeneman, who is now healthy, and Katherine Wittig, who has the potential to make a big jump and be part of the team's top-five, according to Rice.
A number of other veterans and first-years will also challenge for spots in the top-seven.