With many new faces and a handful of returning talent, the Marion cross-country team is ready for success.
Sixteen athletes are on the roster this season for fifth-year coach Rebecca Hofer.
Marion will be able to field a full boys? team this season, and will do so without a senior on the roster. The Warriors lost Quinton Hett to graduation last year.
?I?m excited,? Hofer said. ?We did not have (a boys? team) last year. We didn?t have enough out. We have a lot of new boys out, so I?m excited to see how they?ll do. I think we could be really good.?
Leading the way in terms of returning letter-winners are junior Taylor Fahey and sophomore Logan Waner.
?They?ve been a constant my whole coaching career, so I would love to see them continue to improve,? Hofer said. ?I would love to see them medal this year.
?There was some really hard competition last year in the boys? group, and so I would love to have them get some medals this year. We?ll just have to see. In practices, I can already tell they?ve improved over last year, so it?ll be fun to see how they do in a meet.?
Some newcomers are already showing promise. Sophomore Colin Williams is establishing himself as a frontrunner, Hofer said.
?Colin Williams did really well in track last year,? Hofer said. ?Several other boys have been keeping up with him in practice.?
Additional newcomers to varsity include juniors Tyler Arocha and Jarrett Johnson and freshman Ethan Dar?nall.
Foreign exchange student Magnus Maarslet, a junior from Denmark, is another newcomer.
?Tyler Arocha is doing a really good job in practice,? Hofer said. ?I think he?ll be really good. Jarrett and Magnus (are) both running pretty well. They kind of run together.
?Ethan Darnall (is) right behind Colin. He?s been running my second fastest, so it?ll be fun to watch him as a freshman, see what he can do. He?s been practicing really well.?
Sophomore Devin Hamm and freshman Joeb Corona complete the roster.
With so many new faces, it is difficult for Hofer to project what the season may look like.
?It?s kind of hard for me to say what it?s going to look like because they?re all new,? Hofer said. ?We?re having fun.?
Returning for the girls is senior state qualifier McKen????zee Remmers. Her 2014 season may not have ended the way she hoped: she finished 58th at state, covering the 4-k course in 18 minutes, 17.40 seconds. A leg cramp halfway through kept her from challenging her personal best time of 16:23.
Remmers has high hopes this season.
?(McKenzee?s) goal is to get the top 10 at state,? Hofer said. ?She?s been working her butt off, and I really think she can do it. She?s been putting in lots of extra miles.?
Junior Emily Hague and sophomore Meggan Frese also return.
?Emily Hague has been working really hard, too,? Hofer said. ?Meggan Frese did really well in track this last season. She?s a little out of shape. She?s trying to get back into it.?
Additional athletes on the roster include seniors Shyla Harris and Brittany Hett and juniors Sam Fugitt and Kaitlyn Goebel.
Marion?s only newcomer is freshman AJ Arterburn. The Warriors lost Kaylee Waner to graduation.
Effective for the first time this season, girls? regional and state races will be increased from a 4-k distance to a 5-k, same as boys? races. While schools and leagues can still choose which distance girls will run throughout the year leading up to the postseason, Hofer said she expects most girls? races to be increased to a 5-k this season.
?Most meets will probably bump it up just because there?s really no point? if the main races of the season are longer?if you?re not practicing that all season,? she said.
Hofer said she sees the increase in distance as a positive change.
?I like it, I really do, because then they all practice the same distance,? she said. ?If you ever do any fun runs or road races out of season, it?s always 5-k, so they can just continue running for the rest of their lives at that distance. It?s also the college distance, so it?ll prepare them for that.?
Hofer said she is glad boys? races have not been increased to college distances, as that might discourage some from going out for cross country.
Although she has eight girls on the roster, Hofer does not anticipate fielding a full varsity team this season, especially in light of the increased distance for girls.
?We have enough girls for a full varsity team, but I don?t think I?ll run them all varsity just because I don?t think they?re ready,? she said, adding that she does intend to field a full team at league and regionals at the end of the season.
Hofer expressed optimism for the season.
?I am excited to start this season,? she said. ?We have an awesome group of runners this year, and many of them I expect to take to state.
?They?re lots of fun. It?s kind of like by the end of the season we?re our own little family.?
Marion will launch its season at Abilene tomorrow.