A Suburban League American Conference title and a trip to the state meet are the goals of the Tallmadge girls cross country team this season.
"We missed going to the state meet last year by just two or three points, so the girls are looking down the road to get this team there," 15th-year Blue Devils head coach Jeremy Huth said. "But first, I’d like to see them win an American Conference championship. We’ve never done that.
"Ultimately, our goal every year is to qualify as a team to the state meet, which has also never been done. I feel those goals are attainable. The girls have been working hard. The entire team definitely dedicated their summer to running."
Last year, Tallmadge finished third at both the Suburban League Super Duals and the conference meet.
The Blue Devils will try to withstand the loss to graduation last spring of Ashleigh Hughes with a veteran-laden team.
As has been the case in recent years, leading the way for the Blue Devils will be senior state qualifiers Kenna Loveless and Ravyn Edge, who finished second and third, respectively, at last year’s conference meet. Loveless is a three-time state qualifier and Edge is a two-time state qualifier.
"Kenna will be a four-year varsity letter winner," Huth said. "I think she has huge potential to win races this year and compete in the top five positions in any race. She has had a tremendous summer and has been totally committed to doing what it will take to get the team to reach its goal.
"Ravyn wasn’t on the team her freshman year. She has a tremendous work ethic outside of what we do as a team in terms of cross-training, trying to get stronger and just building her fitness level. I think that will pay off this season."
According to Huth, the team has a group of three dedicated juniors who are key contributors to the team: Mackenzie Moran, Emma Ryder and Kelsey Bellman.
"Mackenzie had an unbelievable finish to last year’s season at the regional meet," Huth said. "She probably ran her gutsiest race all season and it gave her a lot of confidence. We have huge hopes for her this year to continue to be a top-five runner and impact the team.
"Emma is another great teammate who has bought into everything that we’re doing. She plans on being a top-seven runner and making all of these goals come true. Kelsey has taken a real leadership role on this team."
Two girls who could make a huge impact this season are freshman Katherine Carter and sophomore Katrina Hunt.
"Both of them could be in our top three or four," Huth said. "We’re definitely looking forward to seeing them run throughout the year."
Huth also welcomes sophomore Anna Crangle, who competed for Cuyahoga Falls last year.
"She’s going to be a tremendous asset to the team," Huth said. "We’re excited to have her."
Huth’s assistant coach is Karyn Loveless.
Tallmadge is scheduled to open its season at the Canton GlenOak Golden Eagle Invitational Aug. 24 at 9 a.m.