Lake Oswego's cross country program received a record turnout this year with nearly 100 combined runners trying out for the boys and girls teams.
The boys team returns a handful of runners with varsity experience, led by Elijah Greer. Greer, who has state titles in track in both the 800 and the 1500 is expected to be one of the top competitors in the league this season. He took 15th in state last year.
The Lakers' top four appears to be very solid.
John Paden transferred from Clackamas in the offseason and should battle with Greer near the front of the back in most races.
'I think Elijah will be consistently strong this year. He's got great speed,' coach Eric Lider said.
Paden finished second at the district meet last season.
Also returning for Lake Oswego are a pair of seniors in Isaac Hayden and Paul Hoard who both finished in the top 30 at the district meet last year.
And, with the numbers that the Lakers have in the program, there are plenty of options to fill up the remaining varsity slots. It will simply be a matter of seeing who steps up in early races.
'It's a really solid top-four and we have some nice options after that. On paper it feels like we're pretty strong,' Lider said.
All in all the Lakers have high expectations this year. The team finished in a tie for second at the district meet with West Linn last season but were denied a trip to state via the tiebreaker.
This year Lake Oswego figures to battle with West Linn again but this time it will likely be for the league title. The Lions graduated two of their top runners but have a solid core returning.
The Laker girls, despite the high turnout appear to be in for a rebuilding season. Lake Oswego was hit hard by graduation and had other strong runners opt to play other sports leaving the team with some question marks.
The one certainty, however, is the Lakers' top runner. Tate Murray returns for her junior campaign and is the defending district champion.
She finished a solid seventh at the state meet last year but battled through a nagging foot injury for much of the track season.
Murray appears to be healthy to start the fall, however and is one of the frontrunners to claim the district title once again.
'Tate's as strong if not stronger than she was last year and she's more motivated than ever. We expect her to place well at state. I think that's a fair goal,' Lider said.
Behind her, the Lakers have plenty of options and Lider is looking forward to seeing who will step up to fill those positions.
He feels that Emily Hawley, Emily Hoard, Alissa Johnston and Brittany Scrugham could all be strong contributors to the team this year.
'There's some good talent there. It could just be very unpredictable from race to race,' Lider said.
West Linn appears to be the heavy favorite on the girls' side this season and Murray will likely receive some of her biggest competition from the Lions' Taylor Nowlin.
Lake Oswego's first league meet will be on Sept. 10 against West Linn and Putnam at Lake Oswego Junior High.