The Conway Bears cross-country program is preparing for an exciting 2023 season. After graduating a strong senior class, the Bears are looking to rebuild with lone senior Maddy Officer leading the charge into the coming meets.
The Bears last season were very successful. Led by Gracie Vestal, a four-time state qualifier and one of the most decorated runners in the history of the program, Conway enjoyed being competitive at every meet they entered. The 2022 season resulted in two state qualifiers, Vestal and Doeohea Gantert.
After losing Vestal and the rest of her class, head coach Andrew Lowery is looking to continue their success into the 2023 season with the addition of Tara Dill as the new assistant coach.
Conway returns lone senior and team veteran Maddy Officer.
“Officer has been with our program since junior high,” said Lowery. “She will be our leader for the team this year and will be the one to encourage the younger teammates so that we can do well as a team. She has made steady improvements throughout the years and keeps settings personal records. We hope to set another personal record this season.”
Officer will be joined by junior Renee Bell, another veteran of the XC program.
“As a freshman, Bell ran well, and was close to making state,” explained Lowery. “Last year, she was coming off an injury from the end of the track season in her freshman year but has made great progress to get her back to her previous level. She has worked hard this summer, and should be one of our top girls this year.”
Dominick Zaffos, junior, returns to the 2023 season prepared to make his mark after receiving honorable mention for the All-Conference team last year.
“Zaffos made state for track last year in the 400m and 800m,” said Lowery. “We are hoping to build on that and use his speed to have success in the cross-country season.”
Aiden Gary returns to the Bears as a sophomore after a strong debut season last year.
“Gary has a bright future, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do this season,” said Lowery.
The Bears have strength in their large group of sophomores joining the team this year, with several of them also being track members. Lacey Bunch, Dayton Mullins, Abbie Bertoldie, and Faith Shifflett all join for their first high school cross-country season.
“Bunch did well in junior high, and after taking a year off is back,” said Lowery. “She’s worked hard this summer and will be one of our top girl runners this year. I expect a lot of hard work and improvements from Dayton. Bertoldie previously ran track, and I’m excited to see how cross country improves her speed on the track. Shifflett is another girl that will be making an impact on the girls' team.”
Freshmen Tymberlyn Mullins and Sarah Cantrell join the team after impressive seasons in junior high cross country and track.
“I expect both to be big parts of the girls' teams this year,” said Lowery.
The Bears open their season at a meet in Strafford on Sept. 2. Conway will hold its own meet on Oct. 5.
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