With 11 boys out this year compared to 20 last year, Wellsville cross country coach Tim Savage said he is looking for a lot of young runners to step up.
“(Chase Bouse) said just today that it’s been a battle to get into varsity the last few years,” Savage said. “I want to see that competition.
“I’d like to see them step up and get into that mix. The more success we have this season, the more it will carry over.”
Last year was the fifth year in a row that the boys team qualified for the 3A state meet, where they finished seventh out of 12 teams.
This year, the team returns several runners including Bouse, who was second on the team at the state meet with a time of 18 minutes, 6.1 seconds. He finished 39th overall at the meet.
“(Bouse has been) to state each year and started running for me back in sixth grade,” Savage said. “He was all-league and all-area last year and we are kind of looking for him to lead us this year.”
Behind Bouse is sophomore Brandyn Brewster, who also ran at state last year, finishing 73rd overall with a time of 19:08.
Junior Trent Smith will also be a key runner this year for the Eagles.
“(Smith) ran at regionals,” Savage said. “We won regionals and he has varsity experience to help us.”
The boys team has won the Pioneer League three years in a row, but Savage said that his team will face tough competition this year.
“Iola brings back a really tough team,” Savage said. “I am still feeling pretty confident. “We have a lot of 4A schools that we run against and (competing) against some of those teams is going to help us.”
While the boys have found their stride in success throughout previous years, the same cannot be said on the girls side. Savage is said a big goal is to get both the boys and the girls qualified for the state meet.
The girls team returns junior Taylor Everhart, who earned all-league honorable mention and all-area honors last season. Behind Everhart is junior Brianna Samsel.
“Last year was (Samsel’s) first year running cross country,” Savage said.
Other key runners for the Eagles girls this year include senior Ashley Borders, freshman Laura McDaniel and junior Gabrielle Martinez.
“We are looking for (Borders) to step up,” Savage said. “(McDaniel) has ran for me before and set a record in eighth grade last year.
“(Martinez) is a newcomer. She had a good track season last year and qualified for state in the 3,200-meter relay. Her running really came on at the end of the season.”
Savage said the goal is to get Samsel, Borders, McDaniel and Martinez going this year.
“It would be great to get those girls qualified for state,” Savage said.
“Once we get a meet or two under our belts, we will have a better idea of what we are looking at.”
Both team’s first meet is at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Anderson County Invitational.