by: DAN BROOD Julia Boyd-Helm is the West Linn girls cross country team’s top returning runner and finished seventh at the recent Tualatin Invitational.

Both West Linn cross country teams graduated large and talented seniors classes last year and the Lions are being helmed by a new varsity coach. But the girls and boys teams each figure to be very competitive within the Three Rivers League again this year.

The Lions' long rein of dominance in the league may very well come to an end this season as the West Linn boys will replace virtually their entire varsity squad and the girls lost four of their top competitors but there are plenty of young faces ready to make their mark on the program.

The girls team, as has been the case for a number of years now, has plenty of depth and some younger runners who could make big strides this season.

Julia Boyd-Helm is the team's top returner and finished in seventh at this year's Tualatin Invitational.

Leah Henningsen and Ellie Clow are also back with varsity experience and will be key to the team's success this year.

New coach Jay Schrotzberger is also excited about getting Becca Donnelly back this year after she dealt with injuries.

"It will be interesting to see how she stacks up," said Schrotzberger who takes over the team from Scott Spear this season after assisting for the past few years.

Two freshman should also make an impact for the Lions this year in Hanna Morford and Marija Jozic.

"They both look really promising," Schrotzberger said.

Cailin Guerins and Tara Galloway have also been strong in early competition this year.

The West Linn girls have had a virtual stranglehold atop the Three Rivers League for the past handful of years but both Lakeridge and Grant figure to be very tough to beat this fall.

For the boys, the Lions graduated its most talented distance-running class in school history but the team's numbers are still strong and there is plenty of potential this year.

Dillon George and Connor Cushman are back as two of the team's leaders.

"They're really competitive and ran a lot over the summer. At our time trial they were pretty much lockstep with one another," Schrotzberger said.

Derek Fieldhouse and Tyler Griffin figure to be not far behind for the Lions and senior Braden Krellwitz also brings experience to the squad.

Sophomores John Goetze and Trevor Hammock also have plenty of potential this year.

Lake Oswego and Lakeridge figure to be the teams to beat for the boys this year but the Lions should be very competitive.

"We're not going to be the dominant team but we'll probably be in the hunt to be on the podium in league. We still have high expectations for both teams," Schrotzberger said.

Both teams finished second at the Tualatin Invitation in a strong showing.

Next up will be a meet at Blue Lake Park which will count as a dual meet with Grant and Lakeridge.

"It will be good to see the rest of the league and see what everyone else has this year," Schrotzberger said.

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