After having dominated the county meet in recent years, with two titles and a runner-up finish in three years, Etowah's girls will have some big holes to fill.
The Lady Eagles lost all-around standout Leah Hixon, a sixth-place finisher in the triple jump and eighth-place finisher in the long jump at the state meet last year, and distance runner Emily McNutt, who was a fifth-place state finisher in the 3,200-meter run.
The Etowah boys also lost a standout in distance runner Alex Merrall, who was a third-place state finisher in the 3,200 in 2010.
However the Eagles return some promising talent, including junior Brandon Goodman (400 dash, high jump), junior sprinter Devonte Wheaton, seniors Taylor Thompson and Josh Boudreau in the 800 run and senior Andrew Ford (discus).
"We are very excited about the team we have heading into the 2011 season," Etowah boys coach Josh Shaw said. "We were very young last season and return a wealth of experience, including several top finishers from the region meet."
Woodstock is also hopeful of success on both the boys and girls side, with a number of promising young athletes on both teams, especially in the distance events.
"We are a young team with a lot of potential," Woodstock coach Kirk Scharich said. "Our distance runners will look to lead our team this year. We feel by the end of the season, we should have much better teams from last year."
Seniors Brett Carter and Alex Broome and sophomore J.C. Cornett will lead the distance corps, while junior Jon Wiener will be a key performer in the high jump and long jump.
Freshman Morgan O'Toole, after an outstanding cross country season, will lead the girls distance group with senior Brittney Booz, sophomore Makensie Block and freshman Hanna Frantz, while senior Ashley Wallace (jumps and sprints) will also play a key role for the Lady Wolverines.
Creekview's boys will enter their first year of competition in Class AAAA with a strong group of distance runners, led by senior Justin Whitaker, a fifth-place state finisher in the 800 in Class AAA last year, junior Loren Teachey and sophomore Austin Ryan.
"We are excited about this season," Creekview coach Tom Armstrong said. "The senior kids have stepped up and taken the leadership role of guiding this team in the right direction. The region (7AAAA) is new to us this year, so we are not still not sure how things will play out. The kids are excited about getting the season started, but understand we want to be strong at regions."
Things are also looking up with Creekview's girls, with junior Rachel Dorris (distance), sophomore Anna Dunn (hurdles, pole vault), sophomore Sidney Bosley (300 hurdles, 400, pole vault) and senior Emily Goss (throws) among the standouts.
"Our team is looking really strong this year," Creekview girls coach Connie Armstrong said. "The girls are working hard every day and are pushing each other to become their best. I think we have the best overall team that we have ever had at Creekview. We are excited about the season and hope to set a lot of firsts for Creekview."
The Cherokee boys will have to make up for the loss of sprinter and jumper John Laws and sprinter A.J. Redwine from last year's county champions and third-place Region 5AAAAA finisher. The Lady Warriors will have to find replacements to fill the holes left by pole vaulter Tessa Sghiatti, but they will return senior thrower Mattie Hester and junior distance runner Audri Driscoll.
Sequoyah's girls feature a solid group of seniors such as sprinter and jumper Danielle Chimenti, high jumpers Jessica Casey and N.K. Njoku and hurdler/jumper Hayley Glassic, while the Chiefs will return sprinter Carter Bragg and junior hurdler Jacob Whitfield.
River Ridge will continue to develop its young program in its second season of competition, with sophomore sprinter Austin Terrell and among the key athletes for the boys team and sophomore thrower Jordan Livesay and sophomore Emily Love leading the Lady Knights. Livesay was a state qualifier in the discus for last year's Class A state meet.