The South Putnam boys' cross country team is poised to make a charge in its 2007 campaign.
The Eagles will be anchored by four seniors, three of whom are returning from last season.
Brad Eickhoff, Tyler Shoffner, Jon Weaver and Seth Green will lead the squad this year. They are joined by returning underclassmen letter winners Jacob Parker, Andrew Northrup, Tyler Heavin, Dylan Hayes and Josh Olczak.
Head coach Brian Gardner will look upon his three returning seniors Eickhoff, Shoffner and Weaver, to spearhead the Eagle attack.
"The good thing about those guys is a lot of the time they don't necessarily lead vocally, they lead with their actual actions," Gardner said. "By the way they run in practice, I think that carries over to the younger kids. They are kind of stepping up to that challenge.
"We lost a great leader in Heath Pruitt last year and I think these guys took over where he left off," Gardner added.
One word Gardner does not want to enter the vocabulary of the Eagles squad is complacency.
"If someone is not having a great day, they've got to understand, especially the younger ones, that I've got to go in front of those guys," Gardner commented. "It can't be 'I'm OK'and be complacent. So far they've done a pretty good job. There's been times when that's been a problem."
A strength the South squad possesses is their ability to send more than one runner to the front and be able to stay together.
"I've got about eight or nine guys that are right there in the mix," Gardner said. "If they can get their time down where they should be, I think that will be very big for us being able to compete in those bigger meets, because we'll be a close-knit group."
"We don't have a guy that just standing out right now, we've had seven different guys being the top runner each day. that makes for a lot of competition but also it makes for a tight, close group. It's not spread out, letting a lot of other teams get in between you," added Gardner.
Injuries are first and foremost on the mind of any coach entering a season and Gardner is no exception
"It never fails it seems like there's some kind of injury sometime during the year and running cross country, with the wear and tear on their legs, we've got to stay healthy," Gardner commented. "Then I think we've got to continue to keep competing and not get where we're o.k where we're at.
"With Greencastle, the last four year with Andy (Weatherford) being around, they've (the team) got to get over that hump and they've got to understand they can be front-runners, there's not going to be a guy out there a minute or minute and a half in front of everybody else. So the mentality has to be, we have to be up at the front and not be OK with middle of the pack," Gardner added.
With Greencastle being one of their biggest in-county rivals, the Eagles are looking to take their place at the top.
"Every year we want to compete in every meet, but we're looking at the county and the conference. And again, until Greencastle is dethroned, that's their's to have. They are also looking to advance out of the sectional and make it to regional," Gardner concluded.
South will travel to Danville to compete in the Hokum Karem at 9 a.m Saturday