FORT MILL --
Local cross-country fans don’t have to wait too long to see some of the best local teams clash.
Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools kick off the 2012 season this week going against each other at the Anne Springs Close Greenway. Nation Ford added about 20 new runners to this year’s squad – a very young squad – according to head coach Caitlyn Bagwell (formerly Caitlyn Tooley).
“We have a lot of freshman, seventh- and eighth-graders,” she said.
Not that they’re all that young.
“We do have a lot of our core returning,” Bagwell said.
Male runners leading the way for the Falcons this year are senior Eric Cirillo, junior Luke Christison and sophomore Will Manning.
“They have been training over the summer and working hard,” Bagwell said.
On the girls’ side of things, leading Nation Ford should be seniors Mariah Emenhiser and Leah Thornock and junior Polly Goss. Also, a newcomer from Oregon, Hannah Spencer, seems to be holding her own very well, Bagwell said.
“We are excited to get the season started,” she said. “We have the size and interest out there. We know it is going to be a challenge.”
Nation Ford’s biggest challenge this season when it comes to region meets will most likely be Northwestern and Fort Mill.
Fort Mill lost a lot of talent to graduation like Drew Marshall, Jeffrey Case, Sam Van Buskirk and Meredith Kilburn.
However, the Yellow Jackets also had a big break as well.
“We have been fortunate this summer,” said head coach Marc Pyrc.
The Ruppe family with runners Christian, a senior, and Cameron, a junior, moved into the Fort Mill High attendance zone from Rock Hill and will add a lot to this year’s squad as they have led the Rock Hill Bearcats program in the past.
Also looking to lead the boys’ squad will be juniors Matthew Case and Grant Hendrickson.
For the girls, senior Emily Lyons and sophomore Melissa Smith should pace the Lady Jackets.
“We had a pretty productive summer,” Pyrc said. “The guys will be strong because of our depth. Both teams (boys and girls) should be good.”
Pyrc said the team’s goal is to win the region meet in October and to have their runners peaking in early November for the state meet.
“We want to have a good showing at state,” Pyrc said. “We hope to be in the top five. Team wise we are pretty strong.”