The 2013 season is shaping up to be no exception for the Wildcats, who are once again strong contenders on both the boys’ and girls’ side.
The Westminster boys return six of their top seven runners — mostly seniors — from a team that won its fifth consecutive state championship last year.
“No matter how you cut it, it’s a very experienced group,” Westminster assistant coach Geoffrey Sudderth said. “Last year, we had a very inexperienced group and this year, we have six guys who have run in the state meet. So, obviously, we have a nice situation to be in.”
Returning to lead the way once again is senior Jordan Flowers, who finished fourth individually in AA at the state meet in ’12.
Flowers has a strong cast around him, with junior Graham Huff and seniors Jack Bondurant — seventh- and eighth-place state finishers, respectively, as well as seniors Harry O’Connor, Austin Dhillon and Charlie McKnight.
The Wildcats got the ’13 season off to a solid start by winning its own Kosh Classic, scoring 21 points to finish far ahead of Region 6AA rival and last year’s state runner-up Wesleyan (101) in the nine-team field.
Flowers (18 minutes, 16.77 seconds) and Huff (18:33.40) finished first and second individually to lead the way.
“[The team] ran well,” Sudderth said. “The course is a slow course and they did really well on it.”
While the boys’ team aims to defend its AA title, the Westminster girls are looking to get back to the top of the award podium after having its streak of three straight state crowns with its runner-up finish to Wesleyan last year.
The Wildcats do have a large number of holes to fill after losing five of their top seven runners from last year, including three-time state champion Sahara Fletcher — who is now competing in track and cross country at Ohio State.
“We did lose several of our top runners, but we have a strong group of runners coming back,” girls’ coach Amy Eubanks said.
Depth is certainly not an issue for Westminster’s girls, with 112 runners — the most in the program’s history — on the varsity roster.
The Wildcats still have plenty talent on hand. Sophomore Charlotte Folinus — a fourth-place state finisher last year — returns, while seniors Kay Crawford (placed sixth in AA), Lexy Rouse, Elyse Ensor and Caroline Midis provide veteran leadership.
Sophomores Margaret Mitchell and Carson Simon also return from last year’s team, while freshman Abby Seitz and Gabby Bunnell are the newcomers to the lineup.
The Westminster girls begin their quest to reclaim the AA state title with a home dual meet against archrival Lovett Sept. 10.
“We’re going to give it our best shot,” Eubanks said.