As cross country season gets underway for the schools in Southern Denton County, several local distance runners look to be among the state’s elite this season.
At Argyle, last year’s state 3A individual champion, Jake Roberts, graduated in 2011, but the Eagles are still a force to be reckoned with and have some strong returners on both the boys and girls sides.
“I am really excited about this season,” coach Kathi Olson said. “We only lost a few seniors and the freshmen class will be excellent additions.”
Among the key returners for the Eagles cross country teams this season are Darby Hargroves, Allea Harris, Taylor Mueller, Ashley Gonzalez, Leslie Gonzalez, and Bailey McClure.
Olson, who is in her eighth year coaching at Argyle, led the team to a second place finish in district and fifth place finish at region last season.
The Argyle coach said, for her team to have a strong showing at district and advance to the regional meet in 2011, it will take a couple of things.
“We need to build upon the foundation that we have and use each meet during the season to focus on technique to be ready for district and beyond,” Olson said.
Olson believes that Sanger is the team to beat in district this season.
For Flower Mound coach Andrew Cook, two top 10 finishes at state last year has his teams fired up for the 2011 campaign.
“For both [teams], our goals are to qualify to the regional and state meets,” Cook said.
The girls finished seventh at state last year, while the boys team finished ninth, and Cook said, while he did lose some great runners, he has a number of strong athletes back as well.
“The girls team returns Kristen Zeller, Katarina Bouton and Kelsey Viertel,” Cook said. “We graduated Connor Ward, who won the 1,600 meter run at state this past spring, and Taylor Light, who owns our 5k school record.
“The boys team returns Zach Hamstra, Cole Atchison and Drew McRae. We graduated our top four athletes.”
Cook said he feels quite certain that his team is in for some stiff competition this year in district.
“I think every team in our district is going to be very tough,” Cook said. “In particular, Hebron and Marcus look ready to run well this fall.”
Cook, who is in his fifth year as head coach of the Jaguars cross country team, said he believes to have a strong 2011 season, his team is going to have to work as a unit.
“This year, on both teams, we don’t really have a strong front runner,” Cook said. “It’s going to be important for us to have a tight pack in order for us to be successful.”
Over at Marcus, Craig Lutz captured a state championship for the Marauders boys team in 2010, but is off to the University of Texas this fall.
The Marcus boys finished third as a team at the state meet in 2010.
Look for Chase Brown, Jake Miller and Jacob Babbidge to the lead the way on the boys side this season.
Freshman Sydney Brown finished 18th at the regional meet last season and should lead the way on the girls side in 2011.
For Guyer High School, an 11th place finish at the state meet in 2010 for freshman Devin Norton bodes well for the girls team this coming season, especially since three of the athletes that finished above her graduated.
Expect Dalton Richey and Cameron Jackson to lead the way on the boys side for Guyer.
Liberty Christian finished fifth at state last year on the boys side, led by returners Dereck Woodcock, who finished fifth individually, Ryan Leaverton, who finished 11th and Cal McMillan, who was 24th.
The Warriors finished 11th as a team at state on the girls side in 2010, including a fourth place finish by Sydney Brynn.
Look for Maile Curbo and Alexander McMillan to have good seasons, as well for Liberty.
Sophomores Zerlina Fung and Hayden Brandenburger both qualified for the TAPPS state meet for Coram Deo Academy last fall and should propel the Lions to a strong finish this season on the girls side.
Alex Kotyl was the top runner on the boys team last year and should have a good 2011 campaign, as well.