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The team is more experienced and ready to surpass last year's 10th place finish

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Josh Meyer running during the 2013 district meet.

Heading into 2013, David Barkley had to scale back expectations.

Virtually his entire squad had graduated from a fifth-place state finish a year earlier, forcing Barkley to rely on a group of runners who were not yet battle tested.

As the 2014 season opens, however, he feels last year's trial-by-fire has led to a more experienced group, and expectations have elevated.

“Last year's team did a great job to qualify for state and winning districts, but just getting to Eugene is not the goal this time around,” Barkley said.

And from showing up to summer camps and training runs, Barkley says the team’s top guys have trained hard enough to reach new heights this fall.

“Josh Meyer and Carlos Villagomez will likely lead the team this fall and have done an excellent job of training consistently this summer,” he said.

Barkley enjoys working with a more trail savvy group of runners.

"It’s great to have a more experienced team this year," he said. "We can work on training and racing details with this group because they already know the basics.”

At last year’s class 5A state championship meet, Meyer finished 36th and Villagomez finished 54th, one spot behind 2014 graduate Alex Tomlinson.

After the top two, Barkley says senior Kody Wilde and Sean Tan and juniors Cameron Quenzer and Kaleb Pace are in the mix for the remaining varsity spots. Not to mention, Barkley foresees a bright future for sophomore Nobuki Yaso.

“He is as consistent a young runner as we've ever had in the program,” he said. “(And) there is a whole pack of juniors and sophomores that have done an excellent job this summer and are doing all the hard work they can to try and find a way onto varsity by the end of this season.”

Barkley isn’t closing the book on a few freshmen and first year Wildcats making a push for varsity positions.

“We also have a couple of transfers and very good freshman that will add to our top junior varsity and maybe even varsity roster by the end of the season as well,” he said.

Standing in the Wildcats' league title hopes this year is Liberty, a team Barkley said is, “their best team ever,” due to a stellar senior class. In addtion, reigning 4A state champion La Salle is now a part of the Northwest Oregon Conference.

Barkley holds the NWOC in high regard.

“It is a very good league with a lot of veteran coaches that often find good teams in the hallway even when it doesn't seem like they return much from the year before,” he said.

The team will participate in the Night Meet on Aug. 25 and the Ultimate Race XC Invitational on Sept. 6. Then on Sept. 10, they will compete in the Northwest Oregon Conference Preview meet.

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