GNADENHUTTEN -- Long-time successful Indian Valley cross-country coach Dave Norris is about to embark upon his 12th season at the helm of one of the area's most productive programs. Last season saw the IV girls take the runner-up spot in the district meet, while the boys finished fourth.
Both the boys' and girls' teams have had a habit of advancing to the regional during Norris' tenure and he is looking for that type of goal-setting from his 2012 runners.
Both of last season's teams finished toward the middle of the PAC (Principal's Athletic Conference) standings, but Norris is hoping that this fall's group of harriers can push Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) for the title.
"In most years," Norris offered, "we kinda run for second place. CVCA never seems to be impacted by the loss of graduated seniors."
The smallish IV boys' squad will be led by a pair of fourth-season seniors -- Nolan Rennicker and Austin Menefee. Rennicker made all-Eastern District and honorable mention all-PAC.
Evan Menefee is the only junior on the team. The double letterwinner also pulled down all-Eastern District and all-PAC honors last fall.
A trio of sophomores complete the IV boys' roster -- lettermen Bailey McBeth and Cole Schreiner along with Kyle O'Connor.
With low numbers right now n the boys' team, Norris is hoping that his runners can void injury.
"Our boys have worked hard," he said, "and did some significant summer miles. The returnees are ahead of where they were at this time last season."
Low numbers is not a problem with the Lady Braves' program as Norris currently has a dozen girls battling it out for varsity time.
Seniors Courtney Emler, Courtney Leggett and Emily Probert have each earned multiple letters, with Emler claiming all-Eastern District and all-PAC post-season honors last fall.
Paige Saho leads the junior class while fellow juniors Emily Baker, Heidi Miller and Katie Clum should give Norris considerable depth and experience from the upper grades.
Returning letterwinners Leah Granato and Lauren Long pace the sophomore class while other 10th graders are Allison Kenney and Maddie Miles.
Freshman Tawny Ault completes the 2012 girls' roster.
"I look for our girls' team to be very competitive," Norris said. "They will push for varsity time and push each other to improve. Right now, we have a solid top-four and top-eight, but they way these girls work, the pecking order could change."
Indian Valley lost a pair of boys and a pair of girls to graduation. The most successful of the departed was Courtney Oliver, who would have advanced to the OHSAA state meet as an individual had she not been part of the Lady Braves' regional team effort. She will be running at Adrain (Mich.) College this fall. Also gone from last season's roster are Christina Kenney, Ryan Simmers and Dillon Bolon.