Despite the graduation of Dawson County's top cross country runner on the boys' side and one of the top runners on the girls' side, Coach Charles Beusse is optimistic about the teams this fall.
"We have had record numbers at conditioning this year, averaging between 25-30 runners on any given morning," Beusse said. "We have a lot of young runners this year and a lot of motivated new faces."
Beusse credits the work of Coach Jonathan Tinsley at the middle school level for a significant part of the growth.
"It has been very exciting to see the program grow so much over the past few years and the talent level continues to rise each year," Beusse said.
Even without region champion runner Jacob Poston, Beusse sees a bright future for the boys program.
'...I believe from a team perspective, I think our men's team may be the best we had ever had," he said.
Returning runners Chris Shelp, Cody Wood and Nathan Blythe were all a part of the team that finished fourth in state last year.
"We are still looking for someone to step up and be a strong No. 5 runner for us this year, but Nico Poston, Raleigh Payne and Luke Hamby have all been putting in tremendous work this summer and appear much improved," he said.
On the girls' side, Dawson returns two time region champion Frankie Muldoon.
The team lost Bailey Carter to graduation, but Beusse believes there are already runners who will be able to step into her spot in the top five.
"Marley Hamby and Jenna Lecours also look improved and should make for a strong top three," he said.
Beyond the top spots, Alyssa Habermann is another that he sees making a mark this season.
Over the summer he said he has been impressed by Abby Cotter, Evion Reinhardt and Mattie Grant.
The expectations are high and the team believes that they are capable of capturing a fourth consecutive region championship, according to Beusse.
The team is still in what he calls the "base phase" of training--logging miles to build endurance and the cardiovascular system.
"When we return from GHSA 'dead week', we will begin to transition into some strength and threshold work as we begin to look toward the season," he said.
Even with the success and strong runners returning on both sides, Beusse is always looking for runners to join. To participate, a Dawson County student must have a valid physical and be ready to work he said. The team meets at 7:15 a.m. Monday through Thursday at the Dawson County High School track.
The season will open on Aug. 28 at Chestatee High School.