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CHAMBERSBURG >> Expectations are always high when talking about the Chambersburg cross country teams.

This year is no different.

The Trojan girls are coming off a season in which they finished fourth in District 3, and they return all of their top runners. The boys haven't experienced as much recent success – 7-11 over their last three seasons – but they too return a solid core that should help them improve on their seventh-place finish in districts in 2014.

On the girls side, Chambersburg rode a pair of freshman to a top-five finish at the District 3 Class AAA Championships last season. Sophomore Abby Yourkavitch took third in the meet, and fellow second-year runner Kaylee Mowery finished 18th. They both return to lead the Trojans, as well as junior Cadie Kiser and seniors Cassie Essis and Ally Niedigh, all of whom rounded out the Trojans' scoring output at districts last season.

"We have a great group of returning girls, and they all look good leading into the season," Trojan girls coach Chris Monheim said. "I think we're going to be very competitive this year."

Chambersburg finished 5-1 (5-1 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division) last season, with its only loss coming to Cumberland Valley, which returns the top runner in the district from last season, Mady Clahane. Monheim also expects to be pushed by both Carlisle and State College.

"We face three of the top teams around here, and they're going to be a big challenge," he said. "We'll find out quickly where we stand, because our first league meet is against CV and State College (Sept. 8)."

Monheim believes that Yourkavitch has a chance to claim a spot in the top 10 of states – she finished 13th last season – and he also believes that Mowery could have a strong showing at states as well.

"Both of those girls had a really good cross country season and a strong track & field season. I would expect them to do even better this year," he said.

Not only does Monheim expect success from his top two runners, he also believes his team has a chance to be at the top of the district.

"We won districts as a team two years ago, and I think this team is just as strong as that one," he said. "If we continue to improve and everything falls into place, we have a chance to be right in it."

Recent history hasn't been nearly as kind to the boys team, but that could turn around this year with a solid group of returners.

Seniors Chris Wurtz, Alex Hayden, Tyler Umbrell and Tanner Amsley will lead the Trojans, who finished seventh in the district last season despite just one runner (Wurtz) finishing in the top 50.

"We have a nice-sized team this year with 28 guys on the team," Chambersburg coach John Ambrosio said. "As a group, we did a decent job over the summer, and I think our turnout was the best we have had since I've been here."

And while the Trojans have a solid group to lead the way, they also have the depth to find points in the middle of the pack.

Ambrosio said, "I will be really counting on Chris, Tanner and Tyler as team captains to do a good job shepherding this team, but I also think we will have a good group to draw from to round out the varsity."

The Chambersburg boys haven't had a winning season for three years, but if the early part of the season is any sign, the Trojans could be in line to break that trend this season.

"We just ran our intra-squad time trials, and the results are about the best we have ever had since starting a home time trial on this course," Ambrosio said. "Tanner told me afterward, 'This could be a real fun season.'"

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