Here is a capsule preview of the girls cross country teams in the Portage Trail Conference for the 2013 season, compiled by Record-Courier correspondent Eric Clutter.
CRESTWOOD RED DEVILS
Head coaches: Samantha Usher and Megan Cameron
2012 Metro Division overall finish: 1st
Top returners: Abby Soltisz (12), Challis Roberts (12), Kira Judd (11), Taylor Michael (12), Marissa Midgley (12). Soltisz (3rd), Roberts (6th), Judd (7th) and Michael (10) all finished in the top 10 at the 2012 PTC Meet.
Top newcomers: Maddie Sorrick (11), Evie Head (9), Melissa Soltisz (10)
Metro outlook: The Red Devils will be hard to unseat atop the Metro in 2013.
Head coach: Ed Conroy
2012 Metro Division overall finish: 4th
Top returners: Abby Chasar (12), Carli DeJulius (12), Mary Naugle (11), Becca Pohlod (11), Jessica Stayer (11), Caitlyn Franczkowski (10), Jessica Snodgrass (10).
Top newcomers: Kendall Begue (9), Miranda Evans (9), Riley Jenkins (9), Kayla Kuntzman (9), Hailee Olsen (9).
Coach's view: "The girls have been working extremely hard and are starting to show a strong pack of runners," said Conroy. "With the addition of two strong freshmen and avoiding injuries, the team will be much stronger that last year. They are determined to keep quickly rebuilding the team and have a strong showing at the PTC."
Metro outlook: "By the end of the season we will be setting our goals for a strong finish at the PTC, district and regional meets," said Conroy. "Kent graduated three fantastic runners, however, they are a big school and may have some strong newcomers this year. Crestwood had a fantastic group of runners last year that will be returning for this season. I know Crestwood will be one of the top teams in the state and one of the favorites to win the PTC Meet. Our team goal is to regain the runner-up position and have a handful of girls earn first- and second-place team honors."
KENT ROOSEVELT ROUGH RIDERS
Head coach: Julie Healy
2012 Metro Division overall finish: 2nd
Top returners: Kaylie Murray, Alex Marsinek, Paige Scott, Emily Gundlach.
Top newcomers: Carrie Koogle, Shayla Lawson, Sarah Fetters.
Coach's view: "The team needs to build around Kaylie Murray, All-Ohio as a freshman," said Healy. "Alex Marsinek is a good athlete and experienced runner. Emily Gundlach is a hard-working senior. We are young and have some big holes to fill after losing several talented seniors from a year ago. We have decent numbers and the girls are working hard."
Metro outlook: "Crestwood will have a very strong girls team," said Healy. "Kent and Ravenna have some strong individual runners."
Head coach: Phil Starks
Top returners: Alyssa Wingler (12), Olivia Chinn (11).
Top newcomers: Alyssa Suto (9), Kayla Kelling (9), Maggie Smith (9).
Coach's view: "We are down to four girls with Suto just having back surgery," said Starks, "and the four girls are working hard together for their own personal goals. We have a state qualifier in Olivia Chinn who we hope to build on."
Metro outlook: "We'll first be trying to find a fifth girl to score as a team," said Starks, "and I think all the teams in the league will be pretty competitive."
Head coach: John Bennett
2012 County Division overall finish: 3rd
Top returners: Amanda Bartlett (10), Johannah Stefanek (10), Jessica Moore (10), Mariah Coulter (10), Megan Ryser (10), Kaylee Martin (10), Lindsey Jones (11), Julia Roubic (11), Molly Mathews (11), Abigail Hahn (12).
Top newcomers: Abigail Woolard (10), Shiann Penna (10), Madeline Lininger (10), Francesca Bowman (9), Michaela Paroff (9), Courtney Cressman (9).
Coach's view: "Although we lost some talented seniors, the core of our team returns," said Bennett. "That, combined with some talented newcomers, should enable us to be competitive in our league and allow us to have postseason success. This group understands that the bar has been raised at Garfield."
County outlook: "Woodridge remains the team to beat ... and Jeff Howard finally gets the chance to coach his own very talented daughter," said Bennett.
Head coach: Tim Sullivan
2012 County Division overall finish: 7th
Top newcomers: Sam Resch, Kailyn D'Antonio.
Coach's view: "We continue to grow in numbers and quality runners," said Sullivan. "I'm looking for the girls to push up into the pack of the County Division. I'm counting on our seniors to help the young runners continue to improve."
County outlook: "I feel that Woodridge will continue to win our league and set the standard," said Sullivan. "I'm hoping we as a team can push up into that four or five position this year."
Head coach: Larry Bailey
2012 County Division overall finish: 6th
Top returners: Maggie Durbak (12), Jazzmine Hardges (12), Emily Pattie (11), Erin Housley (11), Riley Parker (11), Autumn Reddick (11).
Top newcomers: Toni Dickinson (12), Trezla Nunemaker (11), Emma Burns (9).
Coach's view: "The girls are much improved this year," said Bailey. "I don't think we'll have any trouble getting out to regionals (for the second straight year)."
County outlook: "I think we'll be all right, just not enough to beat Woodridge," said Bailey, 127-133 in his 31st season.
Head coach: Becky Dunn
2012 County Division overall finish: 2nd
Top returners: Miranda Hughes (11), Madison Dunn (11), Jenna Amodio (10), Rachel Stull (11).
Top newcomers: Zoe Robertson (9), Katie Hoover (9).
Coach's view: "We have some strong returning runners," said Dunn. "Miranda Hughes finished third at the PTC meet and was a state qualifier last year, and Madison, Jenna and Rachel are all returning letterwinners. Our newcomers are also top runners for us. Our success will be dependent on the development of a fifth runner. Due to a lack of numbers, injury prevention is also a big key to our success."
County outlook: "As in years past, Woodridge is the favorite to win the league," said Dunn.
Head coach: Rob Kidd
2012 County Division overall finish: 3rd
Top returners: Dana Bindus, Meghan Westerh, Megan Melice, Madison Westerh, Heather Cummings.
Top newcomers: Kaitlyn Nuber, Kailyn Williams, Rachel Woods.
Coach's view: "This team is packed with seniors, 12 out of 20 girls," said Kidd. "The potential is there to make a memorable run as a team but we have to improve. We have a lot of inexperienced runners who must learn on the fly, but they are competitive and have a lot of character. I believe the girls will take this opportunity."
County outlook: "Moving back into the County provides such great competition and brings back some fun rivalries," said Kidd. "Woodridge will always be on top of the mountain until someone can knock them off. The kids train hard are well-coached. Garfield and Southeast will also be competing at the top for the same reasons. It should be a fun, competitive race for the top three in the league."
Head coach: Greg Drugan
2012 County Division overall finish: 5th
Top returners: Maddie Grimm (12), Nicole Miller (11).
Top newcomers: C.J. Brockett (10), Cierra Griffin (10), Jessica Kerin (9).
Coach's view: "The girls have been working hard but our lack of depth will hurt us down the road," said Drugan. "We have to stay healthy."
County outlook: "Woodridge, as always, will be the team to beat," said Drugan. "Streetsboro comes back to the division and has some depth. Southeast has had a nice team for the past couple of years."
Head coach: Jeff Howard
2012 County Division overall finish: 1st
Top returners: Madison Spreitzer (12), Allyson Dryer (12), Erin Kiley (12), Katrina Folk (12), Julia Moore (11), Christen Swayer (10), Shayla Arnett (11), Jessie Showalter (11).
Top newcomers: Clare Willett (9), Nicole Fleming, Natalie Fleming (9), Katie Kearns (9).
Coach's view: "The team should be a good one," said Howard. "(We) are looking for our ninth consecutive PTC championship and ninth consecutive trip to the state meet."
County outlook: "Garrettsville will be one of the favorites to knock (us) off," said Howard.
-- ERIC CLUTTER