On Oct. 31, the Grove City Wolverines dominated yet another Presidents’ Athletic Conference Women’s Cross Country Championship with a score of 20 compared to Waynesburg’s second-place efforts with 35. Four of the top five runners were on Grove City.
For the third straight season, the Waynesburg University women’s cross-country team accepted the same fate that every other second-place team in the PAC has for the last 27 years: finishing behind Grove City at the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships.
The powerhouse that is the Grove City women’s cross-country program has had a stranglehold on the top spot in the PAC dating all the way back to 1989.
In 1989, George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States, Seinfeld was in its pilot season and Taylor Swift was born.
Yeah, that was a long time ago.
The impressive Grove City women’s cross-country dynasty will fall next season, though. In 2016, the Waynesburg women’s cross-country team will finish first in the PAC ahead of Grove City.
She’s earned being a section of this column. She is the main reason Waynesburg will win next season. Well, her not being there of course.
She has won the PAC Runner of the Year for three straight seasons, a United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Region selection in 2013 and 2014 and is a shoe-in for it again in 2015. Rabenold was also an All-American in 2014, as she has a chance to achieve that accomplishment again in 2015.
In her three PAC Championship victories, she’s won by an average of 36 seconds.
Long story short: she’s really fast.
Here’s the good news — for Waynesburg at least — she’s graduating.
Having one of your five scorers only count as one point gives a team a massive edge over the others.
And speaking of finishing first, sophomore Julie Gerber is projected to be the first-place finisher and best runner in the PAC next season as a junior.
Gerber is familiar with running behind Rabenold. In her freshman year, she finished 33 seconds behind Rabenold but tightened the gap this year to 13 seconds.
The only returning runner from Grove City who has a chance to catch up to Gerber is sophomore Martha Mihm, who finished 3rd at the PAC Championships, 10 seconds behind Gerber.
If Gerber continues to run like she has in her first two seasons, Waynesburg will likely have the top runner in the conference.
Key GCC Losses
Other than Rabenold, Grove City has several key departures, which is why they will not win the conference next season.
The Wolverines are losing their third and fourth best runners, who placed 4th and 5th at the PAC Championships this year.
Losing Stephanie Huston and Anna Cessar, as well as Rabenold, sees three of the top four runners from Grove City graduating.
Barring a few amazing runners entering in the freshman class for the Wolverines, these key losses may be too much to overcome.
No WU Departures
As Grove City will lose three of its scorers, Waynesburg is not losing any scorers from the PAC Championships.
While Grove City dominated the top-five at PACs, Waynesburg saw four runners place in the bottom half of the top 10. Junior Emily Latimer, freshman Teghan Simonton, sophomore Elinore Loch and junior Katie Latimer placed 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th overall. Sophomore Angie Marchetti, who was a scorer for Waynesburg most of the season, finished 6th for Waynesburg and 14th overall.
If you take out all seniors in the PAC Championships, Waynesburg has five of the top seven runners, compared to Grove City’s two.
With Waynesburg’s top six runners returning, 2016 will be the season the Yellow Jackets take the next step and take down the Goliath that is Grove City women’s cross-country.