After winning the county championship and placing second in Region 5AAAAA last season, Woodstock coach Kirk Scharich is confident that his team will once again contend at a high level.
“They are ready to contend with any team in the state,” Scharich said. “After two key injuries late last season, we finished ninth at state. It was disappointing. This year, we are more experienced and a little deeper. We are looking for the girls to have a solid year all season long.”
With a total of 25 girls on the team this season, Scharich will rely on experienced veterans such as Morgan O’Toole, Alexandra Melehan, and senior Keaton Wallace to lead the team.
Scharich has set his sights on repeating as county champions and finishing in the top four at the state meet.
After seeing the number of female runners on the team more than double from last season, River Ridge coach Samantha Fraser said that the team has more depth.
“Last year, we had seven women on the team,” said Fraser. “This year, 19 showed up on the first day of practice. We’re very excited for the upcoming season.”
Despite their small numbers in the previous season, the River Ridge girls team placed second in the region and made it to the state tournament.
Though the Lady Knights will be moving from Region 7AA to Region 7AAAA, Fraser expects their results to improve.
“We want to win region this year, if not win at least place. If we do that, we’ll go on to state, and hopefully do better than we did last season.”
With only one senior on the squad, Fraser will depend upon her junior captain Liza Jamison to be the team’s leader. Jamison ran a personal best time of 23:39 at the Darlington Invitational last year.
Cherokee coach Lane Whitley expects returning varsity runners Caitlin Feral, Morgan Sigler, and Kelsey Costa to lead the team this year as they seek to finish in the top four in Region 5AAAAA.
“With (Milton) and Roswell moving into the region, it is going to be very difficult to get one of those four spots,” Whitley said. “But if our girls show up and really run the way I think they can, we stand a really good chance of grabbing one of the top spots in the region and going to state.”
Whitley, who is entering his second year as Cherokee’s coach, expects the team’s overall performance to improve now that he has coached a full cross country season.
“Last year was crazy,” Whitley said. “It was my first year coaching, so everything from practice to the meets was a whole new experience.
While Whitley wants his team to place in region, his main goal is to see the team’s overall performance improve from last year.
“My goal is to see that they are getting better,” Whitley said. “I want the team get to where they were last year, and then see them go beyond that.”
The season will open for every high school in the county on Aug. 25.