The confluence of talent has both of Hunt?s teams anticipating a place near the top of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Senior Caleb Schroeder, junior Zac Remboldt and sophomore Dan Sigley each tallied more than one first-place finish in 2006.
?Dan finished first in the final three meets and earned most-valuable-runner honors for the 2006 season,? Hunt said. ?I am anticipating Caleb, Zac and Dan will set the pace for the team again this season.?
Also returning is sophomore Ric Johnson, a Hillsboro native.
?Ric had a slow start in his freshman year because he was still recovering from a high school injury,? Hunt said.?He ran well last spring and is back to full strength.?
Justin Ball enters the Tabor program with a strong high school resume that includes running at the state level. Sopho?more Adam McPeck joins the team this year after running track last spring.
?I am really looking forward to seeing the impact that Ric, Justin and Adam will have on the team,? Hunt said. ?Our numbers are not quite a large as last year, but I think our overall depth is better.?
Three more freshmen will get their first taste of cross-country competition when Tabor opens its schedule Sept. 1 at Baker University.
?Warren McKamey is more of a sprinter, but is giving the longer distance a try this fall,? Hunt said.
Having graduated a pair of brothers in Kevin and Kyle Larson last spring, Hunt will have a new pair, Michael and Nathan Adamyk, in 2007.
?They are running on a team for the first time and took the home-school route for most of their education, so it?s a whole new experience for them to train everyday,? Hunt said.
?Warren, Michael and Nathan are all in a huge learning curve as the season starts, but over time will experience success.?
Perennial powerhouse South?western is again picked for the top of the conference in both men?s and women?s cross country. The men will also face stiff competition from McPherson.
The Tabor women, meanwhile, are led by four seniors: Heidi Schmidt, Shelby Miller, Amber Wiens and Ashley Schmidt. Sarah Fogle will miss her senior season with injury.
Logging summer miles has three sophomores poised to contribute significantly.
Injury kept Jera Teselle from reaching her highest competitive level last season, but she ran an all-KCAC calibre time in the 10,000 meters with the track team last spring.
?I am expecting that momentum to carry over to the cross-country season,? Hunt said.
?Leah Kopper and Carrie Schroeder bring in a good base, and that should result in a higher competitive level for both.?
Freshman Liz Kleinsasser is the team?s top newcomer.
?She will have an immediate impact and will push our returners,? Hunt said. ?Coming from a large high school, Liz has run against a high level of competition.?
Two other freshmen figure to factor into the team scoring.
?Tessa Siebert had a strong track career in high school,? Hunt said. ?She is running cross country for the first time. Her high school did not field a cross country team.
?It?s a big learning curve for her right now,? Hunt added. ?But after that transition, she will make a good contribution.?
Hillsboro native Elisa Richert will be the fourth Richert sibling to run cross country for Tabor.
Even though the team?s has a solid group of up-and-coming underclassmen, it?s short-term hope lies with the seniors.
?Our women?s team took a pretty big hit when we lost senior Sarah Fogle for the season,? Hunt said. ?It?s hard to lose a No. 1 runner. Sarah placed in the top five in five of eight meets last year. That kind of performance is not easily replaced.?
Wiens missed last season with a knee injury, and is not yet at full strength.
?(Amber) should be back competing by our home meet at the end of September,? Hunt said.
Heidi Schmidt also missed time last season with an injury, but is presently healthy.
Miller and Ashley Schmidt are on course to open the season in good form.
?They?re running well and should make vital contributions to the team,? Hunt said.