CR North’s Ryan Campbell & Souderton’s Emily Bonaventure are featured in this week’s SOL Notebook.
By DENNY DYROFF
With graduation claiming a number of the Suburban One League’s top cross country runners last spring, the path to the top is more wide open this season than it has been for quite some time.
There is room on the podium for new faces – both on the boys’ side and the girls’ side.
On the boys’ side, Council Rock North’s Ryan Campbell has staked his claim as one of the area’s top harriers – and the best is yet to come.
“Ryan really stepped up this year,” said Council Rock North coach Dave Marrington. “He’s a junior and this is just his second year running cross country.
“He was a basketball player. That was his main sport as a freshman. He ran spring track in ninth grade and was still committed to basketball.
“But then, he had great success last spring. As soon as he started having success with his running, he came on board pretty quickly.”
Campbell said, “I did football and basketball in my freshman year. And then I ran track in the spring. I decided to go out for cross country because I really liked spring track – even though I didn’t think I would.”
Marrington was familiar with the Campbell family because of Ryan’s older brother.
“Ryan’s brother was a four-time state medalist in cross country and he ran at Footlocker Regionals,” said Marrington. “He then went on to run at Penn State.”
Chris Campbell has set the bar high for his sibling.
“I got into cross country and track because I wanted to be like my brother Chris,” Ryan said. “I kind of want to beat all his times. That’s what I’ve been shooting for this season – and I’ve been doing it.
“Last year, I was pretty much a rookie. I came in with no summer mileage. As the season progressed, I got better and better. By states, I was the top runner on the team.
“I got stronger physically and mentally. I had a football/basketball body so I slimmed down to get faster – healthy eating, running and exercising. And, I got mentally stronger. I didn’t back down at the end.”
Marrington was pleased and surprised with the young runner’s progress.
“Ryan improved very quickly last fall,” said Marrington. “He wasn’t even on our varsity at the start of the season and by the end of the season, he was our number one finisher at the state meet.
“He missed a lot of the indoor track season because of an injury. He had a calf injury that required minor surgery.”
Campbell had surgery in January for a benign tumor in his left calf.
“The injury happened in August and got pretty bad,” he said. “They did x-rays and an MRI and found the tumor. In spring track, I was playing catch-up, but everything is fine now.
“This year, I ran a lot with my team this summer. I had high hopes for this season because I knew what I was doing and I was in better shape.”
Campbell’s 2016 weekend meet results includes second place at the William Tennent Invitational, second at the Council Rock Invitational. seventh at the Briarwood Classic and 23rdat the PTXC8 meet.
“I’m ready for the post-season,” said Campbell. “My body feels great. I’m injury-free. And, I’m in the best shape of my life.”
This also looks like a year that Souderton junior Emily Bonaventure will step into the spotlight during the three-week postseason stretch of league, district and state championship meets.
Her invitational meet resume includes a gold medal at the Souderton Twilight Invitational, a fourth-place finish at the PTXC8 meet and a 14th-place finish at the highly-competitive Paul Short Invitational.
“Emily is the type of athlete who just keeps getting better and better consistently,” said Souderton coach Jake Marushak. “She went to states in indoor track last year and then won a medal in the 1,600 at the outdoor state championships back in May.
“This is only her second year running cross country, but she did run track as a freshman.”
As a sophomore last year, Bonaventure – whose nickname on the team is “Bon Bon” - was 31stat the District 1 Championships and then finished 97that states.”
“I started running track in middle school,” Bonaventure said. “I just did it for fun. When I was a freshman, I played field hockey in the fall. I ran track in the winter but I didn’t compete. I just trained.
“Then, I ran spring track – the 800 most of the time, the 4x800 and the mile a few times. During spring track, I decided to switch to cross country as my fall sport. I liked running better. It was mostly the people. I’m really close with the people on our cross country team.”
Marushak described the difference between last year’s cross country season and this year.
“Last year at the beginning of the season, the day before her first meet she was panicked,” the Indians’ coach said. “She said – how do I run this race? This season, there is a big difference in her mental attitude. The experience shows.
“This year, she knows how to be smart and read the race. She attacks everything – but she does it with finesse. This year, she’s been untouched in all our dual meets – except North Penn.”
Bonaventure said, “I ran a lot over the summer. I trained hard. I was optimistic coming into this season because I knew how to run a 5K. I know when to push myself. I like to sit back and then make my move.
“I wouldn’t say I’m aggressive because I like to stay back and push later. I prefer to sprint the last mile. I have a pretty good kick.”
“I had a good race at the Paul Short Invitational. I love that course at Lehigh. There aren’t a lot of hills but there are some. And, there is a lot of downhill. It’s fast course. The Souderton Twilight was another good race.”
Bonaventure set the school course record at the Souderton Twilight Invitational.
“Emily also set the school record this year,” Marushak said. “She ran an 18:16 against Central Bucks West and broke Becky Kratz’s record from 2006.
“She’s kind of like the perfect athlete for a coach. She’s goofy and funny enough that she can relax herself. But, she can also get serious very quickly.”
Bonaventure is also a top academic student at Souderton with a lot of AP and honors courses on her record. She is a member of FBLA (Future Business Leaders Association) and ALC (Athlete Leader Conference) and has worked as a volunteer at Grand View Hospital.
Now, Bonaventure is turning her focus to preparing for the postseason.
“My individual goals are to finish in the top three at leagues and the top 25 at districts,” she said. “Then, I want to get a medal at states.”