The Newcomerstown High cross country team has set some lofty goals for the upcoming season and will strive to attain these with a smaller team this team around.
"We have one major goal in mind and that is to advance to regionals as we did back in 2011," Newcomerstown head coach Mario Lovrinic, who enters his third year leading the program said, "and then to make it to the state meet which is something our cross country program has never done as a team.
"We have a smaller team out this season, but this is the most optimistic I've been since I've been here," Lovrinic said. "The kids are way ahead of were they were last season at this point and if they continue to improve and avoid injury, we will surprise a lot of teams come postseason time."
The Trojans' roster will feature just seven runners this season, led by the return of four lettermen from last year's squad which place sixth in the district and fourth in the Inter-Valley Conference standings.
Leading that veteran group will be senior Nathan Marinucci, who earned first team all-Inter-Valley Conference and second team all-Eastern District last year.
"Nathan had an outstanding junior year and nearly qualified for state," Lovrinic said. "He returns as one of the top cross country runners in the area and I'm looking for big things from him."
NHS will be without one of its top runners in senior Derek Stamets who will be unavailable to compete to open the season due to grade issues but should return in time for district competition.
"It's tough to not have Derek to start the year," Lovrinic added,"but he is working hard and optimistic about his return. He really has all the physical tools to become a great top of the pack runner for us."
Rounding out the returning lettermen for the Orange and Black are seniors Daniel Lovrinic and David Billings.
"Daniel knows he will be a crucial piece to help us achieve our goals," Lovrinic said. "He's worked harder than any year I can remember and is ready for a breakout year I think."
A fresh face for the Trojans who should have a positive impact is freshman Garett Mozena, who is a two-time IVC Junior High cross country champion.
"Garett has really been impressive already in the preseason," Lovrinic said. "He has already ran times that our three and four runners never reached last year. He will be an impact runner for us from day one."
Seniors Steven Chilensky and junior Colin Mozena round out the Trojans' roster for the season.
There are no girls out for the varsity team this year.
"This group has a great chance to make school history once we get all the pieces together in late October," Lovrinic said. "With three teams from our district making it to state last season, we have plenty of competition to run with that will help us to improve as the season goes along."