Owl Notebook - Fall 2004
Who's Making News in Owl Sports
An exciting athletic season is well under way for Keene State's fall athletic teams. For the latest sports news and schedules, go to www.keene.edu/athletics.
In his 35th season at the helm of the KSC men's soccer team, Dr. Ron Butcher is counting on eight returning seniors and a strong recruiting class to carry his squad. The Owls, who tied for the LEC regular-season title and advanced to the ECAC Tournament finals last season, are led by strikers Jason Lombardo and Casey Banks, midfielders Joey Amaio and John Harke, back Jimmy Hogan and goalie Brandon Beck. KSC is striving for its fifth LEC title and sixth NCAA trip in the past eight years.
After earning a share of the LEC regular-season title and falling in a conference final decided by penalty kicks, the Keene State women's soccer team is shooting to get back to the NCAA Tournament this fall. Despite losing the two top scorers, All-Americas Erin Lester and Jennifer Ortisi, Coach Denise Lyons '90 believes her team has the talent to be a major force in conference play. Top returnees from last year's ECAC team include goalie Michelle Mason, backs Kerri Paquette and Beth Vachon, midfielders Michelle Harmon and Tara Wagner, and forward Katie Stevens.
The Keene State field hockey team is in rebuilding mode after losing a host of contributors, including All-America Tanya Strong, from its LEC regular-season and ECAC Championship team. Coach Amy Watson is hoping that several veterans can step in to fill the void. They include forwards Kaitlyn Henley and Nichole Garneau, midfielder Amanda Rosenbeck, and back Tiffany Underhill. Sara Joyce, a transfer goalie from Merrimack College, is expected to share goalie duties with Michelle Codding.
The 2004 KSC women's volleyball team is looking for a reversal of fortune this season. With a year of experience under her belt, second-year coach Matora Fiorey and the Owls should improve on last year's transitional season that saw them place sixth and gain the final spot in the LEC tournament. Look for hitters Shelly Ellis and Genna Florkowski and setter Lauren Graham to lead the way. Kelly Yankowski tops a fine recruiting class.
Men's Cross Country
The Keene State men's cross country team is running for its eighth straight LEC title and trip to the NCAA Championships. The Owls, who hope to regain their New England regional championship, placed eighth at last year's national meet. Although KSC will miss All-America Josh Ferenc, Dave Bridgewater (the Owls' second All-America) returns to a lead pack that also will include Dave Raymond, Matthew Haley, Ryan Goff, and Mike Burleson. Mark Garcia is the team's top freshman.
Women's Cross Country
Will this be the year the KSC women's cross country team joins the men's squad at the NCAA Championship? Coach Peter Thomas '77 hopes so. While NCAA qualifier Karen Jordan will be missed, the Owls, who captured their fourth consecutive LEC title and placed a respectable eighth at the regional meet, welcome back four of their top competitors, including Stephanie Gibson, Laurie Yorgensen, Chepina Witkowski, and Shannon O'Brien. Erin Landon, the LEC 1,500-meter champ last spring and newcomer Jennifer Adams should both make an immediate impact.
Josh Ferenc – Another KSC Runner Heads for the Top
Despite a stellar four years as a cross country and track athlete at Keene State, Josh Ferenc '04 was uncertain what direction his running career would take after completing his final race for the Owls last spring.
Disappointed at not qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships, Ferenc, a one-time cross country and track All-American at KSC, had no idea that his fortunes were about to take a sudden turn – straight up a mountain. Now the Westmoreland, N.H., native has been named to the U.S. National Mountain Racing Team, for whom he competed at the World Mountain Running Championships in Sauze d'Oulx, in the Italian Alps, on Sept. 5. Ferenc came in fourth in the open race.
A diligent runner who has always thrived on hills, Ferenc jumped at the challenge to try the grueling sport. "I've always been good at the hills, so Coach Peter Thomas '77 said, 'Let's try the mountain racing scene.' He got me into the Mount Washington race, and I did the rest on my own."
Training on the hills of Walpole and Westmoreland and on the outskirts of Keene, Ferenc set about building the strength and stamina needed to run races with "just one hill."
"You have to pace yourself. If you go out too fast, you're dead," said Ferenc. "You're running eight- and nine-minute miles. It sounds slow, but it's really fast and really hard."
The Mt. Washington Road Race, widely regarded as one of the most difficult courses in the world, features a 7.6-mile route that starts at an elevation of 1,565 feet and climbs 4,723 feet to the summit. At the race last June, where Ferenc placed seventh, the weather was dramatic. "It was 72 degrees and raining at the bottom and 52 degrees with a 50-mile-an-hour wind and ice and rain at the top," said Ferenc. "It was a great challenge. I slept well that night."
Ferenc was selected as an at-large member to the national squad. He follows in the footsteps of past KSC runners Mike Casner '87 and KSC Hall of Fame runner Tom Anderson '88, both former members of the U.S. team.
Ferenc, who will receive his degree in education/social sciences this fall after completing his student teaching assignment, credits Thomas for giving focus to his running career.
"Without Pete I wouldn't be doing anything like this. He's always looking for opportunities for his runners, both past and present," noted Ferenc, who is currently competing for the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), the oldest running club in the country. "He calls all of us his runners, even though we're not on his team, and he doesn't forget about us."
– Stuart Kaufman