With legs churning and arms pumping, the Marietta High harriers had its first official practice at the Broughton Nature & Wildlife Education Area late Thursday afternoon.
Head cross country coach Dale Leeper was pleased that many of the Tiger boys and girls had run on their own during the summer.
"Right now, we'll be doing a lot of base work and getting the miles in," said Leeper, who will be in his 16th year with the MHS and Marietta Middle School cross country program. "The structured workouts will come later."
Marietta High is scheduled to open its season at the Elizabeth S. Broughton Memorial Invitational at the Broughton Nature & Wildlife Area at 10 a.m., Aug. 24, which is three weeks of preparation away.
Numbers-wise, Marietta will be featuring 70 harriers, and there's both quantity and quality on the roster, Leeper said.
"Those numbers include high school, middle school, and St. Mary's," Leeper said. "And, there's a possibility of more kids coming out as things get going. I see a lot of talented runners on this team."
What's unique perhaps about the Tiger turnout is the almost total absence of seniors.
"We have zero senior boys and only one senior girl in Hailey Carman," Leeper said.
"We're very young with a nice group of freshmen boys and girls.
"I think the strength of this team will be bottom up with the freshmen hard on the heels of the juniors and sophomores."
Looking at the orange and black boys' roster, there are four juniors in Jake Haught, Kody Phillips, Connor Brack, and Mason Hall.
There are also four sophomores - Jack Halliday, Corey Hines, Tyler McKinney, and Jeffrey Davis.
The freshmen are Joel Bricker, Hayden Carman, Hunter Danford, Turner Hill, Zach Deskins, Patrick Elliott, Brandon Neville, Brenden Alkire, William Dewitt Bickham, and Thomas Bickham. The Bickham brothers are transfers from Louisiana.
On the girls' side, there's senior Hailey Carman, who after running as a ninth-grader decided to participate in the school's crew program for a couple of years. She's back now on the ground.
"She's a very talented runner," Leeper said.
There are four juniors in Olivia Wesel, Emma Martin, Kelsey Adkins, and Brittany Deskins.
The four sophomores will be Josie Miracle, Jenell Betts, Katie Rauch, and Madison Miller.
Making up the frosh class will be Taylor McVicar, Nora Torbett, Viola Sullivan, Cooper Halliday, Hannah Crone, Elena Lawson, Bailey Graham, Kelsey Hall, Sydney Beaver, and Anna-Claire Myers.
Leeper's cross country braintrust will include assistants' Russ Garrison and Kelli Koon, and volunteer Ben Bricker.
"Everything's new, and I'm really excited with the start of the season," Leeper. "I believe these kids are going to surprise us.
"Right now, the crystal ball is cloudy, so we're just going to wind them up and let them go."