The Marian boys' cross country team was able to clinch last year's Schuylkill League Division II title with only one runner breaking the 20-minute mark.
This year, rookie head coach Jeremy Dormer knew the Colts would have to improve if they were going to repeat.
Setting high expectations once again for the program, Dormer took it upon himself to push his other harriers to the limits.
"At the beginning of the season, I was kind of shooting for the whole team all five of them hit around 19-something," Dormer said.
Colt senior Michael Legath, who currently holds the school's course record (18:51), has consistently turned in his team's top finish. In addition, David Paul has already broken the 20-minute mark.
But with a Division II title on the line in Wednesday, four Colts Legath, Paul, Phil Marzen and Connor Schleicher turned in top-notch performances. Every single one of them finished under the 20-minute mark.
In doing so, the Marian boys were able to post a 24-31 victory over Schuylkill Haven to capture the Division II title on their home course.
"They knew what they had to do," said Dormer, of repeating as SL Division II champions. "We knew Schuylkill Haven was going to be a tough team coming in. They were pretty close with Mahanoy Area (MA winning 26-29) and we had a close win (24-31) over Mahanoy Area.
"We knew they had some guys that could possibly come in between our guys. But our guys made sure they got the places they needed to secure the division championship."
In his final run on the course in Hometown, Legath set the pace by breaking the 19-minute mark once again (18:57). It was good enough for a third-place finish overall as non-league opponent Pottsville had the top finishers in Kristian Zanis and Codi Wood.
After allowing another Tide runner and the first Hurricane runner to cross the finish line, Paul finished behind Legath in sixth-place. The senior Colt was able to break the 20-minute mark in 19:11 for a second time this season.
It got even better as freshman Phil Marzan (eighth) and junior Connor Schleicher (11th) met their coach's expectation too by sporting times of 19:31 and 19:42 respectively.
"It was kind of a surprise to see how they (Paul, Marzan and Schelicher) progressed over the season," Dormer said. "I couldn't be more proud of what they accomplished. They improved their times by a couple of minutes from the first scrimmage to today's meet. I think it was a big key that they were able to keep up with Michael.
"That pack helped us get the championship with that strong group. I couldn't be any prouder of them keeping together and making sure we won the championship."
Marian 24, Schuylkill Haven 31; Pottsville 22, Marian 34; Pottsville 19, Schuylkill Haven 38
1. Kristian Zanis (P) 18:53, 2. Codi Wood (P) 18:55, 3. Michael Legath (M) 18:57, 4. Eric Scantan (P) 19:08, 5. Jack Smith (SH) 19:10, 6. David Paul (M) 19:11, 7. Tyrone Conrad (SH), 8. Phil Marzan (M), 9. Sam Zawad (P), 10. Dominic Direnzo (P), 11. Connor Schleicher (M), 12. Sean Spotts (SH), 13. Jarrad Yalsuvec (P), 14. Aaron Wyteer (SH), 15. Bobby Kelly (M).
Schuylkill Haven 24, Marian 31; Pottsville 24, Marian 35; Pottsville 24, Schuylkill Haven 33
1. Alyssa Miller (SH) 21:01, 2. Madison Monaco (M) 21:36, 3. Jocellyn Liptuck (P) 21:39, 4. Kelsey Schwenk (SH) 22:45, 5. Emma Boyle (M) 23:26, 6. Regina Manzick (P), 7. Grace Casey (P), 8. Kelsey Homand (P), 9. Dominique Dudash (P), 10. Ellen Curwick (SH), 11. Katie Owens (M), 12. Caitlin Goodman (P), 13. Kendall Boyer (SH), 14. Kalene Hess (SH), 15. Jeanie Vengen (P).