Last year: Seventh at the Rensselaer Sectional
Key runners: Kyle Gorski, So.; Ben Garwood, So.; Jesse Rhoda, So..; Keegan McArdle, So.
Key losses: Matyas Tomiscek (regional qualifier)
Key newcomers: Bradlee Sheely, So.; Nacho Moraleda, Jr.
Outlook: Gorski was a regional qualifier as a freshman.
Last year: Fifth at the New Prairie Sectional, third at the New Prairie Regional, 10th at the New Prairie Semistate
Key losses: Mitchell Gits (regional champ, 17th place at state), Ben Martin
Key returners: Connor Havens, Sr.; Cole Raymond, So.; Sam Bell, Jr.; Winston Griffin, Sr.; John Groth, So.; Jeremy Groth, So.
Outlook: The Slicers have high aspirations, despite losing Gits, a regional champ and state qualifier now running at IUPUI. Havens and Raymond each had tremendous track seasons and aim to carry over that confidence into cross country. Slater said they're the perfect kind of teammates. "They challenge each other every practice, have a lot of friendly banter, but love to see each other succeed," he said. "They could really be a challenging force." Bell, Griffin and both Groths will also be main contributors. Last year was Bell's first season and this summer he put in a lot of miles and took his summer very seriously. "I am really looking forward to his progress this year," Slater said. Griffin and the Groths should challenge for the top five. "All of them have put in the best summers of their lives and look to take the lessons they learned from track," Slater said. The team has some freshmen who might have a chance to be on the varsity top seven by the end of the season, but it's too early to tell. "This year will be an exciting one for sure," Slater said. "As a team, we are currently ranked anywhere from sixth to tenth in the semistate. Our goal is to be competitive in the postseason with the hopes of getting to state. Our focus is to keep the ball rolling and build off every workout, every meet, every week. This team is coming together really well right now and they are a real fun team to be a part of."
Last year: 11th at the New Prairie Sectional
Key returners: Jake Tarnow, Sr.; William Bogan, Sr.; Wil Crane, So.
Outlook: The Blazers are paced by Tarnow, a semistate qualifier, and have six newcomers to bolster depth.
Last year: Ninth in the New Prairie Sectional
Key returners: Damian Albisu, Sr.
Key losses: Rodrigo Serrano (regional qualifier)
Outlook: Albisu reached the semistate last season.
Last year: Fourth in the New Prairie Sectional and the New Prairie Regional, ninth in the New Prairie Semistate
Key losses: Jacob Corbett, Jarrod Michael, Brandon Corbett
Key returners: Tim O'Laughlin, Sr.; Josh Baltes, Jr; Quinn Beall, Jr.; Tom Wykoff, Sr.
Outlook: The Cougars return four runners from their semistate team, led by O'Laughlin, but graduated three of their top four, including state qualifier Jacob Corbett.
Last year: 10th in the New Prairie Sectional.
Key returners: Trent Olling, Sr.; Kolten Becker, So.; Fabian Pena, Sr.; Bobby Watson, So.
Key newcomers: Stevie Klimczak, Fr.; Alex Newburn, So.; James Ward, So.
Outlook: SC returns four from its sectional lineup, headed by Olling, and Becker led the Satellites in their first race. "I’m happy to see that as I’d like to see those two work together and move up into regionals," coach Isaac Bules said. Klimczak and Newburn have emerged early on thanks to good off-season mileage. Pena figures to be in the top five, with Watson and Ward pushing. "(Watson) ran all winter and should start moving up soon," Bules said. "I have a feeling about (Ward)." The roster of 20 is South Central's largest ever with the addition of seniors Elijah Bules, Shawn Battleday, Riley Shawn and Ryan Ward.
Last year: 12th in New Prairie Sectional
Key returners: Jaron Hannon, Sr.; Alec Hannon, Jr.; Zack Mitchell, Sr.; Scott Bonczek, Sr.
Key newcomers: Austin Vargas, John Pavolka
Outlook: The Blackhawks look to sneak up the ranks with all of their top runners back.
Last year: Incomplete team
Key returners: Hailey O'Brien, So.; Morgan Wozniak, Sr.
Key loss: Kelsey Rennier
Key newcomer: Avery Hendrixson, Fr.
Outlook: The Tigers finished last season with four runners and start this one with three. O'Brien was a regional qualifier.
Last year: Fifth at New Prairie Sectional, fifth at New Prairie Regional, 13th at New Prairie Semistate
Key losses: Shelby Riehle, Rachel Gerick, Sierra Beach, Riley Tuerff
Key returners: Ariana Steele, Jr.; Ella Dubbs, So.; Rylee Stephany, So.; Alli Bender, So.
Key newcomers: Ella Bensz, Jr.; Brenna Sobecki, Fr.
Outlook: With no seniors and a mere couple varsity returners, new girls coach Corbin Slater admits it might be more of a work in progress, though he feels this squad could prove some doubters wrong. "This will obviously be a big transition year for this team," said Slater, who inherits the program from the retired John Dearing, who experienced a ton of success at the helm. "This team is very underrated coming into the season. We have a solid group of girls that want to work hard and get better. They have been soaking up everything we've been preaching and have been doing the right things to prepare for the season. Look for this team to get better each and every week." Steele, Dubbs, Stephany, and Bender are all very close in times, so it'll probably change weekly. Bensz, who ran track for Slater, decided to come out for cross country after giving up volleyball. She's never been a distance runner, but quickly improved over the summer and earned the team's fastest time trial for the mile. Sobecki is a fairly talented freshman who should contribute.
Last year: Incomplete team
Key runners: Kenzie Losinski, So.; Ava Zientarski, So.
Key losses: Rory Neary
Outlook: The Blazers' roster still stands at three, the same number with which it ended last season.
Key returners: Bridget Mark, Sr.
Outlook: Mark reached the regional as a freshman and sophomore before missing last year. Four of the Wolves' five sectional runners graduated.
Last year: Sixth in the New Prairie Sectional
Key returners: Juliana Kroll, Sr.; Sage Mougin, Jr.; Brianna Hooton, Sr.
Key losses: Gabrielle Peters, Alexa Zeese, Callie Metzger
Key newcomers: Lillian Zelasko, Fr.; Audrey Henning, Fr.; Ilayna Baltes, Fr.
Outlook: The Cougars graduated three regional qualifiers, but a potent freshman class is making an immediate impact for coach Julie Jeszenszky, led by Zelasko. Kroll, the top returner, has been working her way back after being injured in a car accident last spring. "We're hoping a few of the girls can make a run at the state meet, or at least advance to semistate," Jeszenszky said. "We have a pretty good pack working together in the middle and back, so we're hoping a little depth can go a long way."
Last year: Seventh in the New Prairie Sectional
Key returners: Adelaide Young Brust, Jr.; Kate Fine, Jr.; Adi Pataky, Sr.; Katelyn Adams, Sr.; Katrin Marks, Sr.
Key newcomers: Kaylie Pacione, Jr.; Holly Noveroske, Jr.
Outlook: Young Brust, a two-time semistate qualifier, paces a top five that is back intact. "Our goal is for her to continue to be stronger in the postseason," Bules said. "She was much more consistent through those last few races (last year). Now with a good track season behind her and a little more summer training we hope to see her times drop at just the right time to hopefully propel her to the next level. We’ve just been focusing on strength." Marks and Adams are seeing early dividends from their summer training. "I would love to get two more girls into regionals," Bules said.
Last year: Incomplete team
Key returner: Grace Shebel, Jr.
Key newcomers: Maddie Stark, Fr.; Ashley Hannon, Jr.
Outlook: With just three total runners, Shebel looks to be a factor in individual scoring. While the team lacks numbers, the girls are focused on improving as individuals and hopefully laying the groundwork for a growing program.
— Compiled by Jim Peters and Zack Eldridge