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Expectations high as 2012 season approaches

WC looks to improve on stellar 2011 season

July 16, 2012

Jenna Parlette (at left) and Annie Cekada will set the tempo for Wilmington College during the 2012 women's cross country season.

Jenna Parlette (at left) and Annie Cekada will set the tempo for Wilmington College during the 2012 women's cross country season.

Expectations are high as Wilmington College gears up for the 2012 cross country season.

Senior Annie Cekada (Mineral Point, Pa./Central Cambria) and sophomore Jenna Parlette (Miamisburg) are coming off All-Ohio Athletic Conference seasons that helped propel the Quakers into the Great Lakes Region’s Top 10. Also back are Brittany Gibbons (Pleasant Plain/Blanchester) and Tricia Steffen (Baltimore/Liberty Union), who had a breakout freshman season in 2011.

“I’m excited about this team. We are very strong up front, as strong as any team in the OAC. We are kind of searching for those fifth, sixth and seventh spots. That’s really going to make or break us. Karlee Michel looks like a strong five, coming off a pretty good track season. Hopefully, we can close the gap between our five, six and seven runners and our first four,” Wilmington head coach Ron Combs said.

The Quakers will not have the luxury of the surprise factor. After taking third place at last year’s conference meet, Wilmington will be on everybody’s radar in 2012.

“This group is not content — they are very focused. I don’t have trouble getting this group fired up for cross country. They know this is Annie’s last year and our chance to shine. We are hosting the OAC meet, and that is very important to them. We want to be better in the conference than we were last year. We want to challenge for a top-5 spot at the regional meet. We were 12th last year without Jenna, which was a huge point difference for us. I thought we could have been sixth or seventh with her.”

The schedule is loaded from week one to the NCAA Championship. Included along the way are stops at the All-Ohio Championship and NCAA Pre-Nationals.

“That is a big stretch in the middle. We’re going to have to be careful and not get too carried away. We want our kids to be fresh when we get to the OAC meet, but at the same time we want them to get the experience of running against some of the best runners and teams in the country at pre-nationals. We feel that was an important addition to our schedule.”