Head coach Brian DeRose is excited about the upcoming cross country season at Dawson County High School.
DeRose's boys and girls teams have been holding informal workouts all summer to get ready for the season.
On the girls' side, it will be hard to replace one of the best runners in Dawson County history, Madalyn Walters. The graduated senior broke numerous records at the school during her four year career.
Walters finished fourth in the state cross country meet last season. The team completed the state meet in eighth place overall.
The season marked the fifth straight year that the girls' team had qualified for the state meet.
This year both teams will move up a classification to Class AAA and enter a new region, 7-AAA.
The girls will have plenty of leadership in seniors Savanna Estes, Christine Schmid, Bethany Auten, Riley Robbins and Eve Perkins, according to DeRose.
The team also has several sophomores: Cassiday Lecours, Sarah Bywaletz and Taylor Grindstaff.
"This is definitely our youngest team yet," DeRose said. "We lost many senior varsity runners last season. Now we are moving up a notch in competition to [Class] AAA and racing faster teams, while losing more than half the varsity squad."
Hard work will be paramount this year.
"The girls are going to have to work harder this season to accomplish the same thing they did last season. I've had many of these girls in class and on the field. They are a great group of kids and very hard working. I expect nothing less than making it back to the state meet, it's just going to take more work than previous seasons," he said.
For the boys, DeRose will return a multitude of senior runners: Jon Erickson, Christopher Bywaletz, Jacob Hafermalz, Craig Butler, Mason Carr, John Spillane and Mason Bearden.
Last season Chris Bywaletz led the Dawson County Tigers boys' cross country team to an eighth place finish at the State Cross Country meet at Carrollton High School.
"The boys' team is looking good this season," DeRose said. "They have lost quite a few varsity runners as well, but have gained a runner from North Forsyth that should add a bit more horsepower to the already strong squad."
Joining the seniors on the varsity squad is sophomore Nathan Shelp.
"From the looks of our summer practices, there are many guys wanting to make the varsity team. They are all working hard. There might be some surprises in a few of the guys," DeRose said.
The team is currently training at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Dawson County High School.
DeRose said that anyone interested in running cross country this year should attend one of the workouts.