The Chambersburg girls cross country team has cultivated a reputation of success. And with five consecutive appearances at the PIAA Championships and a perfect 6-0 record last year, it's not hard to see why.
"Success sort of breeds success. Kids like joining teams that do well," Chambersburg girls coach Chris Monheim said. "The expectation for us doesn't matter who I have back; we still have that goal of trying to get to states."
But that won't be a problem for Monheim, who returns five of his top seven runners, including his "big three," which will pressure for the top spots in the division this season.
The area's top distance runner, Abby Yourkavitch, returns as a junior. For a runner of her merit in the cross country world, it's hard to believe she is just halfway through her high school career.
Kaylee Mowery, a junior, and senior Cadie Kiser round out the talented top three.
"We lost basically our six and seven runners, and the top three is the real key," Monheim said. "Most teams don't go three deep with kids like Yourkavitch, Mowery and Kiser. I think if we are healthy we will be very tough to beat in the conference and I think we can challenge anyone in the district. If we get back to the state meet, the goal is to be in the top five."
After finishing ninth in the state last year, the Lady Trojans are ready for a better finish.
Sydney Parson and Livvy Sommers return as the final two puzzle pieces of the top five returning runners. But with two varsity spots still in question, Monheim says a few newcomers have the potential to make a push for a spot in the top seven.
Anna Degrange and Camaryn Ellis, both freshman, are expected to do well in their first season, with Degrange pushing for a higher position in the top seven.
"Our two ninth graders are kids that I think could help us out possibly on the varsity level," Monheim said. "Anna is the top girl coming up from junior high. I think she definitely has top-seven potential and she could even sneak inside our top five - that wouldn't surprise me at all."
Junior Madison Ford, and sophomores Ella Ashway and Tara Hathaway also have the potential to come out strong, according to Monheim.
The Trojan boys team is also coming off a perfect 6-0 season, but after the loss of the teams' only state qualifier, Alex Hayden, and a host of other top runners, boys coach John Ambrosio expects 2016 to be a rebuilding year for the Trojans, despite having one of the biggest turnouts in recent memory.
"We graduated three of our top four guys and they are going to be hard to replace," Ambrosio said. "We have a nice blend of some guys with experience, but we also have a lot of younger guys that we need to develop."
With a roster of 34 runners, 19 are underclassmen. But despite the large number of young runners, Ambrosio said the team had a good offseason, putting up more summer miles than in previous years, and averaged an astounding 17 runners per optional practice over the summer.
Andrew Feldman returns as a top runner from 2015, while Matt Hoover, Patrick Zook and Ian Mangan fall in line behind Feldman.
"Right now our main guy is injured, so he hasn't been running much," Ambrosio said. "Every year I say our goal is to go to states, but last year we made it to districts, placed sixth and we didn't make it (to states). By the time the league and district meets come around I want to be competitive. Competitive means not just beating the local teams, but being respectable at the district meet, and competing with some of the better teams in our district. Making it to states might be out of the question; we just don't have the talent to do it."
The 2016 season marks the Chambersburg boys cross country program's 50th year.
TROJAN GIRLS AT A GLANCE
Coach: Chris Monheim, 14th season, 79-9 (.897)
Last year: 6-0 (6-0 Mid Penn Commonwealth Divison)
Returning runners: Abby Yourkavitch (jr.), Kaylee Mowery (jr.), Cadie Kiser (sr.), Sydney Parson (jr.), Livvy Sommers (sr.)
Other top runners: Anna Degrange (fr.), Camaryn Ellis (fr.) Julia Bookamer (so.), Madison Ford (jr.), Ella Ashway (so.), Tara Hathaway (so.)
Season Opener: Friday at home, Enos Yeager Invitational, 5:30
TROJAN BOYS AT A GLANCE
Coach: John Ambrosio, 28th season, 150-63 (.740)
Last season: 6-0 (6-0 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division)
Returning runners: Andrew Feldman (sr.), Quinn Mangan (sr.), Matt Hoover (sr.), Ian Mangan (sr.), Dylan Culler (jr.), Patrick Zook (jr.), Shiloh Lehman (jr.), Tyler Best (so.), Nathan Snyder (so.), Trentin Overcash (so.), Donovan Hazelton (so.)
Other top runners: Carlos Vera (sr.), Orion Kimberly (so.), Luke Sharrar (sr.), James Merkle (so.), Ben Patterson (so.), Kellen Stepler (jr.), Colby Miller (jr.), Chris Diaz (jr.), Justin Maxwell (fr.), Joe Corwell (fr.)
Season opener: Friday at home, Enos Yeager Invitational, 5:30