JIM THORPE

Head coach Drew Benyo (23rd season)

Assistant coaches Janet Ginder

Last year's record 10-1 overall

League Schuylkill League

Classification AA

Key losses Sam Lux, Sean Boyd, Dave Barrientos, Jay Marsden, Arristah Voorhees, Branden Slack, Kareem Mickens

Key returnees Matt Curran (Sr.), Adam Dachowicz (Sr.), Josh Williams (Sr.), Nathaniel Flick (Jr.), Darren Gehres (Jr.), Chris Boyd (Jr.)

Others to watch Bob Taylor (So.), Erik Stelling (Fr.), Christian Fields (Fr.), Zachary Nace (Fr.)

Strengths Senior leadership and experience should help Jim Thorpe this season. Matt, Adam, Josh, as well as Chris all ran in the top 5 at some point last season and are all capable of running under 20 minutes. The trick will for Benyo will be to get them under 19 minutes consistently.

Weaknesses A lack of 10th graders will hurt the balance and strength of the Olympains at the junior varsity level. They need an outstanding front runner and no one has stepped up yet to take that position.

Quoteable " This is a great group of kids who are very willing to work hard to achieve our goals. We look to be competitive with every team in the league, as well as at the invitational. It remains to be seen if we can equal last season's record. The talent and potential is there, we just have to display it when we step on a course." Head coach Drew Benyo.

LEHIGHTON

Head coach Ron Rabenold (Third season)

Assistant coaches Jake Marushak

Last year's record 0-12 overall

League Mountain Valley Conference

Classification AA

Key losses David Lucykanish

Key returnees Josiah Evans (Sr.), Jeremy Gornick (Sr.), Dave Magyar (Jr.), Daulton Radler (So.), Shaun Mann (So.)

Others to watch Brian Piekarski (Sr.) and Jeremy Rehrig (Fr.)

Strengths This current group is extremely 'coachable' and eager to succeed. They have gelled into a nice core of runners in the pre-season and have started to exhibit the qualities of a disciplined team. The Indians be looking to see if they continue to develop and can run as a team.

Weaknesses Lehighton is are largely young and untested, with many athletes new to the sport of running. Rabenold is looking to this group to establish a running culture in Lehighton.

Quoteable "All things in distance running take time. We've already achieved progress in our program with a nice number of dedicated athletes with discipline toward their running. The mantle is on their shoulders as to how far this program can go." Head coach Ron Rabenold.

MARIAN

Head coach Jeremy Dormer (Second season)

Assistant coaches Rob Legath, Christine Legath

Last year's record 7-4 overall (6-0 SL Division II)

League Schuylkill League Division II

Classification AA

Key losses Mike Legath, David Paul

Key returnees Phil Marzen (So.), Connor Schleicher (Sr.), Robert Kelly (Sr.), Kyle Garber (Sr.)

Others to watch Nick Hopeck (Fr.), Phillip Desantis (Fr.)

Strengths Marian looks to be very strong up front, as Phil and Connor each broke 20 minutes last year. Freshman Nick Hopeck is also coming on strong as a third runner, so the Colts have the talent up front to contend for their third straight division title.

Weaknesses For the last three years, the Marian boys' team has had only six kids come out for the team. Because of that, the Colts will need at least one of their freshmen to score.

Quoteable "I am basically looking for Phil and Connor to lead the way. Phil is our top returning runner and he is already in form for states. They should be our strong point. Kyle and Robert are looking to come long and hopefully help the guys out up front." Head coach Jeremy Dormer.

PANTHER VALLEY

Head coach Morgan Jones (Fourth season)

Assistant coaches Michelle Markovich, Marie Griffiths

Last year's record 6-5

League Schuylkill League

Classification AA

Key losses Kyle Picht, Kyle Smith, Justin Christman, Johnathan Susko

Key returnees Michael Sloboda (Sr.), Omar Cabrera (Sr.)

Others to watch Jake Ligenza (Fr.), Shane McGeehan (Fr.), Austin Karnish (Fr.), Lenny Ogazalek (Fr.)

Strengths Jones feels the returnees and newcomers are carrying along the right attitude right now. With an inexperienced core to work with, Jones is impressed with the willingness this young group has to learn the roots of the sport.

Weaknesses The Panthers hope Sloboda and Cabrera can push themselves enough to fill the voids left behind by last year's front-runners Picht and Smith, who left because of graduation. While Picht and Smith usually paced the Panthers in the midst of competition a season ago, Jones has a tough task of turning an inexperienced group of harriers into an experience group in order to have a successful season.

Quoteable "We lost a lot of experience in an already tough Division. On the other hand, it is nice to see a bunch of fresh faces that are eager to learn. Hopefully, during the year, our two seniors can help mold the exuberant young runners." Head coach Morgan Jones.

PALMERTON

Head coach Jeff Minnich (10th season)

Assistant coaches Mike Shafer

Last year's record 8-18 overall

League Colonial League

Classification AA

Key losses None

Key returnees Aaron Papay (Sr.), John Achtermann (Jr.), Cody Eckhart (Jr.), Mike Horvath (Jr.)

Others to watch David Fitzpatrick (So.), Josh Evans (Fr.)

Strengths Minnich believes the strength of the program lies in amount of running experience we have. The Blue Bombers' mentor calls this a 'veteran' team so to speak with a few solid younger guys sprinkled in. However, the Bombers' numbers are slightly higher than usual.

Weaknesses At this point, Minnich stressed the major area of concerns is the Bomvers don't have a tremendous amount of depth to rely on. A key injury here or there could derail the Bombers from reaching our full potential if it would so happen during the season.

Quoteable "At this point, I have higher expectations for this team than in years past. The majority of this team has been with me since middle school and we can't use the inexperience excuse anymore. I feel confident the pieces are in place for us to improve upon last years record." Head coach Jeff Minnich.

PLEASANT VALLEY

Head coach George Fair (12th season)

Assistant coaches Rick Rimple. Matt Frable

Last year's record 10-2 MVC

League Mountain Valley Conference

Classification AAA

Key losses Evan Makuvek, Curran Kneebone, Adam Wojy

Key returnees Dan Rose (Sr.), Ernie Klingel (Jr.), Tim Landes (Jr.), Alex Larkin (So.)

Others to watch Tom O'Leary (Sr.), Mike Hughart (Jr.), Pat Jurczyk (Jr.), Zack Nagy (Jr.), Zach Williamson (Jr.), Nick Donatelli (So.)

Strengths Fair thinks this year's group will run in a much tigher pack than pervious years. The Bears' runners have been spread out time-wise due to their varying running abilities, but should run closer together this season.

Weaknesses Pleasant Valley will have trouble replacing two of its top runners - Evan Makuvek and Curran Kneebone - from last year's team. They were two of the best runners to come through the program in some time and will be tough to match for this year's group of runners.

Quoteable "We have a good group of guys, but it is going to be tough to compete in the MVC. There are a lot of good teams out there. The experienced runners are going to have to lead by example for the many of our inexperienced runners." Head coach George Fair.

NORTHERN LEHIGH

Head coach Dave Oertner (29th season)

Assistant coaches Beth Case, Aimee Zeiser

Last year's record 19-7 overall

League Colonial League

Classification AA

Key losses Zach Fleming, Ryan Fronheiser, Aaron Rarick

Key returnees Austin Danish (Sr.), Michael Hofmann (Sr.), Scott Showak (Sr.), Zane Heller (Jr.), Vaughn Reese (Jr.)

Others to watch Cory Wagner (So.), Alex Hoffner (Fr.)

Strengths The Bulldogs' work ethic has been excellent so far in practice and Oertner is very pleased. They will only continue to get better if they keep it up.

Weaknesses Northern Lehigh lost some key runners from last year's District 11 runner-up team and will have a definite lack of depth and experience.

Quoteable "We have some seniors who have taken their leadership roles to heart and have been doing a great job helping our younger runners understand what it takes to perform at a high level. Also, the experience of qualifying for the PIAA championship meet last season will hopefully have a lingering affect on our returning team members as we head into this season." Head coach Dave Oertner.

NORTHWESTERN

Head coach Chris Stitzel

Assistant coaches Tim Churetta

Last year's record 20-6 overall

League Colonial League

Classification AA

Key losses Alex Morris, Brandon Wehr, Dan Masetti

Key returnees Cody Reinert (Sr.), Tyler Malay (Sr.), Patrick Stroebel (So.)

Others to watch James George (Sr.), Tyler Stelmack (So.), Ryan Cerrone (Fr.)

Strengths Northwestern returns three of last year's top runners in Reinert, Stroebel and Malay. The addition of George and Stelmack will give the team a huge boost. Those two are likely to be somewhere near the front of the line up this season and help make the Tigers a contender in their league, where Notre Dame (Green Pond) has won 110 straight dual meets over five year. Knocking off the Crusaders is one of Northwestern's primary goals this season as this team has the potential to compete for a league title. The drop down to Class AA also makes the Tigers a contender at the district level.

Weaknesses Two of last year's top seven runners graduated, another (Masetti) is playing soccer and a fourth did not come out for the team. But the new additions should more than make up for those losses. After a week of practice the Tigers had a solid top six and were looking for one more runner to step up and earn the final spot in the line up.

Quoteable "They trained their butts off all summer and they think they have a shot at leagues and/or districts. Some of the seniors have been in the program since seventh grade. They saw the girls do so well last year now they think it's their turn this year," Head coach Chris Stitzel.

TAMAQUA

Head coach Thomas Kanger (Ninth season)

Assistant coaches Mike Sakash

Last year's record 9-2 overall (4-2 SL)

League Schuylkill League

Classification AA

Key losses Brandon Clemson, Ricky Clemson (State Qualifier), Tyler Kline (All-Star), John Scheitrum, Ben Tuckett

Key returnees Joseph Rudy (Sr.), Phil Christman (Sr.), Travis Hill (Sr.)

Others to watch Jordan Frank (Fr.), Zach Oliveria (Fr.), Dave Frederick (So.), Cory Truskey (Fr.), Matthew Heffelfinger (Fr.)

Strengths Kanger is relying on the three returning top runners Rudy, Christman and Hill and a strong upcoming core of freshmen to lead the Blue Raiders towards another successful season.

Weaknesses The Blue Raiders were hit hard by graduation. They will be banking on a number of inexperienced, younger runners to provide the lineup with the depth needed to compete against tough Schuylkill League Division 1 competition.

Quoteable "With only three returning runners, the newcomers will have to step into scoring positions quickly. It may take a few meets to gain experience and confidence," Head coach Tom Kanger.

WEATHERLY

Head coach Mike Miller (First season)

Assistant coaches Phil Jefferies

Last year's record 0-6 overall

League Schuylkill League

Classification AA

Key losses None

Key returnees Andrew Vack (Sr.), Matt Cassace (Jr.), Lucas Rinker (Jr.), Michael Embick (So.), Matt Cullen (Jr.)

Others to watch Alex Sirkot (So.), Tim Lash (Fr.), Cody Hoffman (So.)

Strengths The Wreckers have a good leader in seasoned harrier Andrew Vack, who has competed in the sport all four years of high school. Miller stated at practice Vack is the one pushing the rest of the team to pick up the pace in preparing for the up-coming season. When its comes time for the start of the season, the first-year mentor totally expects to see Vack running towards the front of the line in each meet. Meanwhile, the other Wreckers are running pretty evenly right now and Miller admists between two and eight it could be pretty much any of the other Wrecker harriers.

Weaknesses Miller had no problem stating the obvious with lack of depth on the Wreckers' roster. Of 30 runners, 24 of them are attacking the competitive 3.1 miles for the first time ever as varsity harriers.

Quoteable "We're looking to be competitive in every race, which is our main point right now. With the lack of experience, I'm not sure how things will turn out during in each meet. I just want them to look to improve meet-in and meet-out. And, if they do that, we shall be alright," Head coach Mike Miller.