Vermillion High cross country runners will hear the starter's gun for the first time at the Beresford Invitational at 10 a.m. Friday.
"I am very excited about the girls' chances this year," said coach Kelly Fischbach. Two state meet qualifiers return from last season, and both Blair Gilkyson, who placed 13th at state, and Morgan Hower, who was 57th, are still only freshmen.
"Also looking good and much improved are co-captains Sophie Nehlich-Arobba, a senior, and Ashley Brunick, a junior," Fischbach said.
Right now the fifth varsity slot will be filled by freshman Jade Fostvedt.?Several girls fighting for that last spot include junior Jana Bye, sophomores Jonna Lynch and Cassie Donahoe, freshman Jackie Hulse, eighth-graders Ashley Sorensen and Caitlin Britten and seventh-grader Brittney Sweeney.
As for the boys team, Fischbach said the Tanagers will miss the senior leadership of Brad Orr, who was the team's only state meet qualifier in 2008.
"We have several boys out, some of them for the first time, so I look for them to steadily improve as the season goes on," Fischbach said. "I look for Bennet Johnson and Carson Sullivan to be our leaders even though they are also playing football."
The Tanager runners will stay at home on Sept. 5 for the USD Don Baker meet and Sept. 18 for the Vermillion Invitational.