The North Putnam Cougars' cross country teams are entering the 2007 season with eyes focused firmly on the horizon. A horizon that it hopes includes multiple wins and the possibilities of a championship or two.
For the girls, North Putnam has no returning seniors this season and will look to junior Taylor Alles to set the pace.
"Our girls will be lead by Taylor Alles," head coach Jason Chew said. "She's looked really strong, coming in everyday working real hard."
Chew will also be looking to his underclassmen to step up and provide the varsity will quality running
"Hillary Salyers will probably be next. We have a freshman, Whitney High, which is a really strong runner for us and hopefully she'll develop through the season, then we have Mandy Preecs and and Casey Preecs," Chew stated.
Also helping set the pace for the Cougars will be sophomore Dakota Parent.
On the boys side, Chew will look to another junior to lead the team and set an example for the younger runners.
"The boys side will be lead by Kenny Quisenberry. He's a great kid and he really works hard at it," Chew commented.
Korey Cooper, the lone senior, will also help lead the Cougars this season. Joining Quisenberry and Cooper will be Dalton Harbison, C.J. Werner, Kenny Benge and Jared Preecs.
Chew, in his fourth season with Cougars, acknowledged the fun his team has and their willingness to train hard to achieve team goals.
Chew points to two concerns that he has as his team enters the season.
"Inexperience," Chew said. "They are fairly young -- some freshmen, sophomores and a few juniors, so they don't have a whole lot of experience at least at the high school level.
"I'm really concerned with the girls moving to 5K this year and how that's going to effect some of our girls. It's going to be interesting to see how they react to it."
Chew will also be looking to his senior and juniors for team guidance, not only on the course, but also off.
"Definitely Taylor Alles for the girls and Kenny Quisenberry and Dalton Harbison for the boys have really put in a lot of effort," Chew commented. "Kory is our spiritual leader. He rallys people around and he's somebody who really lifts up the younger guys."
Another event the cross country team is looking forward to comes at the end of August when North Putnam will host its first ever invitational.
"It will be a co-ed race. So the boys and girls will compete at the same time on the course and they're going to be scored as a team," Chew explained.
Area schools competing will be Cloverdale, South Putnam, Eminence, Monrovia and North Putnam.
When he looks at the difference a year makes, Chew is hoping his team is stronger and more competitive.
"We lost a couple of kids because they decided to not come back, but the team itself is pretty similar," Chew said. "We only lost two or three senior from last year. It's another rebuilding year. Hopefully our kids will come back stronger than they were last year.
"Hopefully by the end of the season we'll be able to compete for county, conference and sectional," he added.
North Putnam kicks its season off on the road at Hokum Karum Saturday at 9 a.m