But the Crusaders are still the favorites in the 2011 Metro League cross country race
Simply the best.
The Metro League's collection of girls cross country teams is just that almost every year and 2011 will be no exception.
Jesuit, despite graduating the dominating duo of Annamarie Maag and Payton Schutte, is back and aiming to extend its long Metro winning streak, as well as taking a shot at a 10th straight big-school state crown.
But it won't be easy.
Lincoln, after finishing second at district last year, comes back strong and may have the league's best individual in Claire DeVoe, while Sunset should challenge as well.
'Looking at our league, with Jesuit's depth and the return of most of Lincoln and Sunset's runners from last year, the Metro League, like always, will be competitive,' said Aloha coach Ken Martinez.
'The Jesuit girls will get a strong challenge from both Lincoln and Sunset,' agreed Beaverton coach Jim Crawford.
And like many years in the Metro, there will be a few very good teams that won't survive the district race.
'On the girls' side, there are two teams that should go to state that won't, when you consider that Jesuit, Lincoln, Sunset and Aloha are among the top 10 teams in the state,' said Southridge coach Michael Christiansen.
Following are previews of the varsity girls cross country teams at the six Beaverton-area high schools.
ALOHA - Things are looking up at Aloha.
Coming off a third-place finish in the regular season a year ago, the Warriors are back and ready for even bigger and better things this season.
'The girls team is the strongest team I've coached,' said Aloha coach Ken Martinez. 'We have a mixture of experience and new runners who bring a healthy competitive edge to the team.'
This year's group will be led by junior Desyre Blackburn (she was 14th at district and 46th at state in 2010), and seniors Anna Miller and Samantha Wight.
Wight and Miller 'bring leadership and experience to our squad,' Martinez said, adding that Blackburn 'qualified for (the 2010 state meet) and is coming off a great track season.'
Also ready to surprise is junior Amanda Stowe, a sprinter who is already showing great promise in her first cross country season. Joining her on the varsity will be a trio of sophomores, Allison Martinez, Jemimah Cordes and Annalise Hodges
'Allison Martinez had a great summer of training and is feeling like she can compete with our top runners on the team,' Ken Martinez said. 'Our girls team will be better than last year's team.'
BEAVERTON - The Beavers are ready for a new streak in 2011.
The Beaverton girls cross country team enters the new year carrying an 18-meet league losing streak that dates back to 2007, and the Beavers are determined to dump that skid this season.
'We are carrying a 0-18 record around our neck which has been weighing us down, (but) we feel that will change this season,' said Beaverton coach Jim Crawford. 'We are excited about our girls team this year. It is one of the better teams that we've seen in a long while.'
This year's team will be led by freshman Erin Gregoire and junior Corinne Murray, along with leadership from senior captains Melissa Rutherford (she was 43rd at district last year and Carly Smoke (she was 45th).
'Freshman Erin Gregoire shows a lot of promise and seems to be picking up where her big sister Hayley left off, and Corrine Murray … could be right up there with her,' Crawford said.
Also joining the varsity roster this year are sophomore Belle Ottinger, sophomore Tamara Rutherford, freshman Milana Orth, and freshman Anisha Malynur.
'It's a young hard-working team with a lot of enthusiasm,' Crawford added.
BEAVERTON - The four-year Jesuit era led by Annamarie Maag and Payton Schutte may have ended with graduation last spring, but anyone who thinks the Crusaders are sitting ducks ought to have their head examined.
Jesuit brings back two members of last year's state championship team - the school's ninth straight state win - three more who ran at state in previous years, and looks well-armed to add to its 30-meet Metro League winning streak as well as to its state-title run.
'We're coming off the heels of a very good group, but after having graduated so many seniors, we still have a pretty experienced team,' said Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger.
Senior Adrienne Demaree (she was fourth in league and 21st at state in '10) and senior Olivia Artaiz (she was 23rd at state) are at the head of this year's group, along with senior Marissa McBride and three other former state performers in juniors Molly Hagler, Megan Mullaney and Lindsay Sheaffer.
'They'll all be factors,' Rothenberger said.
The rest of this year's varsity will include senior Megan Conchuratt, junior Katie Arndorfer, junior Meaghan Bogart, sophomore Taylor Moscoe, sophomore Colleen Sullivan, junior Malange Gavin, and sophomore Sarah Murphy.
BEAVERTON - The offseason was the 'on' season for four of Southridge's top seniors, and the Skyhawks hope that dedication will pay big dividends in the months to come.
Southridge's quartet of leaders for 2011 will be seniors Jocelyn Vinson (she was 16th at district last year), Lily Mayko (she was 23rd at district), Stephanie Tollbom and Sam Zwingli.
The Southridge girls team will be led by … Lily Mayko, Stephanie Tollbom, Sam Zwingli and Jocelyn Vinson,' said Southridge coach Michael Christiansen. 'They also have had a great summer of training.'
This year's Skyhawk crew will also include senior Kelsey Hopkins, senior Jaymee Maclise, senior Melanie Mazer, senior Kylie Juggert, junior Emily Jones, junior Aly Edwards, and sophomore Rachel Niesen.
'The girls will have more of a challenge due to the many talented teams in the Metro League,' Christiansen said. 'The key to a successful season for the girls is getting the top five runners to keep improving throughout the season.'
If they do that, the Skyhawks believe they'll have a chance at improving on last year's sixth-place finishes in both the regular season and at the district meet.
CEDAR MILL - Sunset was right there in 2010, battling down to the end of the Metro League district meet for a chance to get to state.
It didn't work out last year, but the Apollos believe it just might in 2011.
'The girls are really excited about the season ahead,' said Sunset coach Dan Neeway, also sharing credit with assistant coaches Samone Brockett and Amber Maheu. 'We have a great group of girls who are a lot of fun and aren't afraid of hard work.'
This year, Sunset will be led by junior Karen Qu (she was ninth at district and 42nd at state in '10) and junior Sarah Fahmy (she was 11th at district and 24th at state), as well as by senior Greer Davis (20th at district) and senior Dorothy Zhang.
'Greer is … another in a long line of hard-working leaders of our girls team who understands the meaning of commitment and sacrifice,' Neeway said, adding that Zhang 'is by far the loudest voice at every meet and she cares a lot for everyone on the team.'
Also on the team are sophomore Charlotte Corless (21st at district), senior Emma Gosser, senior Lauren Haedrich, sophomore Bridgette Thurber and sophomore Ana Harvey.
ROCK CREEK - The 2010 season was a regular roller-coaster ride for Westview's girls, winning one week and losing the next en route to a 3-3 finish and a tie for third place.
This year, the Wildcats are hoping for just a few more of the ups and a few less of the downs.
'The girls are working to build a cohesive group that will run for one another,' said coach Julie Ray, who teams with Amber Maheu to lead the Cats this season. 'We have some extremely talented girls and we are looking forward to success this year.'
That group will be led by its three experienced returners, junior Laura Engle (she was 24th at district last year), sophomore Rebecca Scheer (29th at district) and junior Paisley Hiefield (30th at district), as well as by sophomore Sarah Medved and senior Lisa Bloch.
'Laura Engle, Paisley Hiefield and Sarah Medved look to be vying for the top spot,' Ray said. 'Senior Lisa Bloch looks strong early on as well.'
Also on the team are junior Mallory Hiefield and senior Morgan Francis.
'The key for the girls is to work as a team, race hard and give it all they've got,' Ray added.