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Penn College Cross-Country Runners Rebuilding

After the loss of four of his top seven men runners and still one woman runner shy of fielding a complete team, Pennsylvania College of Technology cross-country coach Mike Paulhamus has his work cut out in what he says is a rebuilding season.

The Wildcats open Saturday at the Delaware Valley Invitational.

For the past two seasons, Mark Cordeiro, of Canton, dominated men’s races, winning two individual Penn State University Athletic Conference titles and leading Penn College as it extended its conference team title run to seven straight and last year finished second nationally in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Cordeiro is gone, but Paulhamus expects that freshman Jacob Shedden, also of Canton, will assume the leadership role.

“He’s well above everybody else at the present time. He’s going to be our No. 1 runner,” Paulhamus said.

Others at the head of the pack are Corvin Oberholtzer (Wellsboro), Travis Cain (Bloomsburg), Seth Beckman (Linden) and Ed Knyff (Ocean Gate, N.J.).

Also on the roster are Russell Blankenship (New Florence), Matt Brzezinski (Easton), Joe Chadowski (Fairfax, Va.), Mike Fischer (Ringwood, N.J.), Bob Forbes (Warren), Bill Fuka (Clifton, Va.), Dan Gwynn (Southampton), Derek Hoover (Pleasant Gap), Cody Huffman (Littlestown), Bill Klaus (Middletown), Brandon Knapp (Shenandoah), Jacob Kreil (Nazareth), John Kriner (Lancaster) and Brian West (Newark, Del.)

“The first couple of days when they came in I was not impressed. I said it’s going to be a long season. But over the last week and a half, we’ve gotten much stronger. I think all these kids had to do was get back into a regular running routine and some of their natural talent has come out,” Paulhamus said. “I’m really impressed with where we are now and I think we’re going to be strong.”

On the women’s side, Tamara Pavlov (Lewisburg) returns for her senior season and will anchor the squad. She won the PSUAC individual championship as a freshman and has keyed the Wildcat women to three of their five consecutive second-place finishes in the conference. Last fall, the Penn College women finished fifth in the USCAA national event.

Running with her will be Shannon Abercrombie (Canton), Ashley Hetrick (Clearfield) and Ashley Hughston (Philadelphia).

“We’re not a full team yet. I have a deadline of Sept. 10 to get enough girls to participate in the PSUAC,” Paulhamus said.

On Saturday, only Pavlov and Abercrombie will run.

“The women’s team is still a work in progress,” the coach continued. “Tamara is our strongest runner. I’m looking for a really good final season for her,” the coach said. Abercrombie, he noted, was the top runner on her high school team and he forecasts a successful future.

In most races, men will cover 8 kilometer courses, about 5 miles, and women 5k.

“It’s a transition for a lot of them because (in high school) the men were used to running 3.1 miles and now they have to run an additional 1.9 miles. We’re working on that. It takes a race or two before they figure it out,” the coach said.

“We’ve got a good crop of freshmen that I am really impressed with. A lot of them are surprising me. If you look at them, they don’t look much like runners but they have been really surprising me with what they have accomplished. I’m excited for them,” Paulhamus added.

SCHEDULE September4 at Delaware Valley Invitational, 10 a.m.; 11 at Penn StateLehigh Valley Invitational, 1 p.m.; 18 at Penn StateScranton, 1 p.m.

October2 atPenn StateFayette, 1 p.m.; 9 at Albright College, 10:30 a.m.; 16 PCT Invitational at Luzerne Community College, 1 p.m.; 23 PSUAC/PCAA Championships atPenn StateMont Alto, 1 p.m.

November4-5 at United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships at Concord, N.H.

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