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Practice begins for Franklin-Fulton teams

It's not very often you get to talk about a 163-event winning streak in high school sports, which opened practice for fall sports Monday.

But that's possible when it's the Chambersburg Trojan golf team that's being discussed.

Chambersburg will open the 2016 season with a little pressure on them. Not only did the Trojans lose most of their top players from last year, but the Mid Penn realignment moved Northern York into the Colonial Division and the Polar Bears have had some successful teams in recent years.

"Time will tell," Chambersburg coach Mark Yost said. "We have three returners and some others who were on the team last year, but they're not proven yet. And having Northern come in could throw a wrench in it."

In addition, the Trojans had only nine players come out for the team.

"That's the lowest number we've ever had," Yost said, "but it's OK. It's good for those kids, because they'll play. We're just in a down cycle for numbers, but there are some good young kids coming."

ROCKET READY: After a long summer of workouts and a week of heat acclimatization, the James Buchanan football team was itching to get out for full-contact practice Monday. But a severe thunderstorm moving through the area had other plans.

The first official football practice of the year was held inside the James Buchanan gymnasium due to unfavorable weather.

"We were fortunate enough to get into the gym for about an hour. We couldn’t hit as much as we wanted to, but we got to go outside for our second practice," James Buchanan coach Andy Stoner said. "It didn’t feel like we missed a whole lot. With a change in schedule there’s always a fear that the guys aren’t going to be mentally prepared (for practice), but our guys were."

GREENCASTLE GROWING: The Greencastle-Antrim boys cross country team returns a number of upperclassmen, including top distance runner Andrew Johnson, and Rylan Hummer, who is back after recovering from a stress fracture last year.

"We expect (Hummer) to make a lot of jumps this year and I swear he's grown 18 inches in the last 10 months," Greencastle coach Rich Secrest said. "He has been running well at the end of the summer season."

For the girls, Lauren Hirneisen returns for her senior season as the Lady Blue Devils' No. 1 runner. Right behind Hirneisen is rising freshman Taryn Parks, who made headlines in the spring for her record-breaking performance as a middle school track athlete. But despite those promising performances, Secrest ensures that Parks won't have any pressure on her shoulders as a freshman.

"I just want her to have fun," Secrest said. "We expect her to do her best and enjoy. The last thing I want to do is put pressure on her shoulders."

TOUGH ROAD: James Buchanan girls soccer coach Terry Appleby does not have a big squad this fall (25 girls came out), but he's looking forward to what the season will bring.

"Across the board they have more soccer ability than most, and their experience is consistent. They're really pushing each other," he said.

While Appleby believes his team may be stronger, it will be facing a tougher schedule. With the addition of Northern York to the Colonial Division, and non-league games against Chambersburg and Juniata, it will be a challenge.

"That should be to our benefit to play those teams," Appleby said.

MAIDENS REBUILD: After going undefeated during the regular season last year, the Wayensboro girls volleyball team entered the first few days of practice knowing 2016 would be different. After graduating five starters last year, including the libero and setter, the Maidens have a lot of ground to cover before their first scrimmage Saturday.

"It left us with huge holes to fill, so we are taking time to go back to the basics in the program," Waynesboro coach Kim Saunders said. "We have some freshman and sophomores competing for varsity roles, and just three seniors this year."

Kaylie Yarnell, Emma Steiger and Brooke Chandler will all compete for starting positions for the Maidens.

"Our success won’t be measured in wins and losses this year, but small successes and building off those and see where we finish," Saunders said. "We hope to be competitive in the middle of the season and follow that on to the end."

GETTING YOUNGER: The majority of the core of players that had helped McConnellsburg's boys soccer team to much success in recent years has moved on. Now it's time for another group - this one much younger - to take over.

"We have a lot of incoming freshmen this year," Spartan coach Cory Houck said, "but there is talent in that group.

"I know when I was in school here, freshmen didn't have much of a chance to see the field or even get on the varsity team. But we may have three or four freshmen start for us this year, so that's unusual."

YOUNG LADY HOUNDS: With a young core of more than nine incoming freshman, the Shippensburg field hockey team will rely on young talent in the 2016 campaign. Just three seniors will lead the Lady Hounds.

"The skills of the ninth graders who came up are really well developed," Shippensburg coach Angela Hostetter said. "The middle school coaches did a really good job developing them."

Despite the young incoming group, Shippensburg returns its entire forward line, and expects to have a solid offense with more cohesion on the field.

Sports editor Ed Gotwals contributed to this story.