Led by Landis McMillan, Alex Rinkert and Cody Johnson, the Cougars appear ready to send out seven strong runners in each and every race.
“The boys team is going to be a really solid team,” coach Rob Collins said. “Having two boys like Landis and Cody in the hunt for the league championship and CCS championship helps. It’s just about how much they want it.”
The team is built around runners who run the 800-meter, 1- and 2-mile races during the track season, Collins said.
Nick Hicks is Collins’ most improved runner, and his younger brother, freshman Jacob Hicks, has quickly become a team favorite.
“Our training has been good. We’ve definitely improved since last year,” Rinkert, a team captain, said. “We really stepped up and became really tight as a team.”
Other boys runners are Nick Sherrill, Branden Caldwell and Eric and Carl Johnson.
With the graduation of top runners from Aptos and Scotts Valley, the team’s goal is to take advantage of its depth to win the league title and push on to the Central Coast Section and state meets.
The SLV girls team also could be near the top of the league if the young team performs, Collins said.
“It’s a very talented group of girls,” Collins said. “The girls are doing the same workouts as the boys. They really don’t back down.”
Led by sophomores Emily Lamb and Ali Mears and freshmen Anna Maxwell, Abby Sherman, Claire MacMillan and Adela Weigel, the girls will be set for years to come.
The Scotts Valley boys cross country season will come down to how well the team runs together.
“The boys graduated (Kevin) Mangen and (Kyle) McNulty,” coach Doug Chase said. “They’re gone, so the question is, is our fifth guy going to be close enough to keep our score down?”
Senior captain Tyler Edwards said the team came into the season prepared to run well.
“We’re already way ahead of where we were last year,” Edwards said.
The Scotts Valley girls are led by talented sophomore Vanessa Fraser, who is expected to challenge for the league title. Four of the team’s top six girls return from last season’s team, including captain Mackenzie O’Toole.
“Our goal is to make CCS. We probably have a pretty good chance," O'Toole said. "We trained all summer together."