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Will the Nordonia High School girls cross country team make it 4-for-4 in 2016?
That would be four straight trips to the state meet.
The Lady Knights will have to do it without the services of three key seniors lost to graduation: Dana Risley, Jaylah Sirca, and Malerie Mysza.
On the plus side, Nordonia returns four state qualifiers in juniors Lizzy Gurko and Caroline Lohm and sophomores Gina Eterovich and Kayla Vasarhelyi.
Gurko and Eterovich earned All-Ohio honors this past track season, making it to the podium in the 3,200-meter relay. It was Gurko's second time on the podium, and both are looking for big cross country seasons.
Nordonia also returns a number of key letterwinners, starting with senior Arden Dalzell, junior Elise Jurkovich and sophomores Abby Rice and Ava Gravino.
"There are also plenty of newcomers who could be fighting for varsity spots by season's end," said Nordonia head coach Mike Martin.
Four-time track All-Ohioian and junior Carmen Licht will be attempting to do the difficult soccer and cross country double this fall and could be a factor for the postseason. Licht will be joined by fellow juniors and first-year cross country runners Katrina Eterovich, Kayla Buck and Rachel Cornett. Seniors Amie Miller and Carmen Ramicone could contribute, as well, as they move from the sprints in track to cross country.
In addition, sophomore Hannah Hover and junior Kendra Lippincott are coming off a very good track season and should challenge for varsity spots. Freshman Morgan Harvey could also be in the mix, as she transitions from the middle school two-mile to the 5,000 meters.
On the boys side, the Knights are looking to qualify for the regional meet for the first time in four years. Key losses to graduation were state qualifier Brian Zaborszki and letterwinner Jakobi Ford.
The boys team has a number of returning letterwinners, led by senior regional qualifier Tommy Masteller and senior Andrew Wahl.
"The core of this team will be very young, with as many as five sophomores contributing to the top seven varsity runners," said Martin.
Matt Korodi, James Hayes and Nick Orzechowski all lettered as freshmen. They will be joined by fellow sophomores Tyler Mosher and Robert Gironda, who are also competing for varsity spots.
The junior class will be led by Ashland transfer Matthew Gerhart and letterwinners Brett White and Larry Jenson. Freshmen Jaden Wimbush, Jeff Sajovie, Aidan Wells and Tony Pedone could also contribute at the varsity level.
"There are a number of runners coming off a great summer of training who could be fighting for varsity spots," said Martin.
These runners start with juniors Ryan Welu, Christian Ruch and Daniel Moore and sophomores Jason Lewicki, Jack Ruck and Aaron Osborne. Senior Tommy Koperna, who's returning from injury and Walid Abuhashim could find a varsity spot, as well.
Martin is starting his seventh year at the helm of both the boys and girls teams. He will be joined by assistant coach Matt Beery for their second season together.
Nordonia will kick off the new campaign Aug. 20 at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Preview at National Trails Raceway in Hebron. First race is set for 9 a.m.