Dawson County High School's cross country season kicks off Saturday at Chestatee High School.
In preparation, Coach Charles Beusse held time trials last Friday at Rock Creek Park.
"This was to give us an indication of where our current fitness level is at as well as determine our varsity squad moving into Saturday's race," he said.
Despite the losses to graduation last season, the boys' team impressed the second-year coach.
"I was pleased with what I saw from the boy's team. Our boys' team looked stronger than I had expected at this point in the season," he said.
Impressive at time trials were Armando Jimenez, Jacob Poston, Chris Shelp, Brandon Barker and Ben Umberger.
"This group of boys should develop into a strong core as the season progresses. Our boys are very hard workers with blue collar attitudes and they are very coachable," said Beusse.
While the girls' team is returning the entire squad from last season, Friday's time trials were not what Beusse expected from his veteran team.
"We need to step things up," he said. "I believe that the time trials really opened some of our girl's eyes and lit a fire under them. That's exactly what we need. Based on what I saw at the time trials, we have some girls that really need to get it in gear."
Lady Tigers Cassidy LeCours, Marley Hamby, Nicole Chumbley and Dana Little all had strong races at the time trials.
Missing was sophomore Bailey Cotter, who is nursing an injury and will miss the first part of the season.
She was the number one runner for Dawson County last season.
"Bailey being out will definitely hurt," Beusse said. "There are several varsity girls' positions up for grabs. There are about twelve girls who can fill one of those spots if they it bad enough."
On a positive note, Beusse said both squads had a great week of practice and appeared more focused than in past weeks.
"Focus and leadership from our veteran runners, and a fighting spirit are what we need going forward," he said.
The Chestatee race will begin at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday.