Five area boys advanced to the cross country semistate in 2021 and four are back, each with the goal of returning a local runner to the state finals for the first time since Luke Combs of Lapel in 2019.

Although many teams will have smaller rosters this season, competitors like Andrew Blake of Pendleton Heights, Noah Price from Liberty Christian, Hunter Smith of Frankton, Cameron Smith of Lapel and a healthy Jayden Reese from Elwood are among the area individuals with high expectations.

Here is a glance at area boys cross country teams with the season set to get underway August 13:

ALEXANDRIA

Head Coach: Scott Zent; Key Losses: Hayden Martin, Nick Kaufman; Expected to Return: Zach Rowlett, Mason Zent, Logan Hill, Lukas Sullivan, Bryan Bennett, Eli Stinson, Conner Foga

ANDERSON

Head Coach: Andrea Dodson (4th season); 2021: multiple regional qualifiers; Key Losses: Damaurion Menifee, Bradlee Thomas; Key Returning Athletes: Spencer Proctor, Connor King; Newcomer to Watch: Kaleb Dean; Potential Breakout: Owen French

ANDERSON PREP

Head Coach: Mark Stevenson (8th season); Key Returning Athletes: Jason Settlemyer, Peyton Taylor; Newcomers to Watch: Will Antorbus, Jacoby Bradford, Jack Fisher

Season Outlook: “We are excited with the prospects of having a team score this year as we have five runners,” Stevenson said. “We are very young and inexperienced, but we have some very dedicated runners that work hard. The boys are led by returnees Jason Settlemyer and Peyton Taylor, who are both greatly improved from last year.”

DALEVILLE

Head Coach: David Beard (36th season); 2021: Delaware County third place, Noah Colvin regional qualifier; Key Losses: Dawson Brooks, Adrian Smith, Mekhi Snyder; Key Returning Athletes: Ethan Colvin, Noah Colvin, Corin Withers, Brayden Quinn, Austin Ryder, Joel Reyes, Zach Cooper; Newcomers to Watch: Caleb Aiken, Nick Pugsley; Potential Breakout: Ethan Colvin, Noah Colvin, Withers, Quinn

Season Outlook: “I can’t say enough about the boys’ work ethic and desire to excel,” Beard said in an email. “These two factors alone will make us a competitive team on the course this season.”

ELWOOD

Head Coach: Marc Lickliter (1st season); Key Returning Athletes: Jayden Reese, Dustin Maseman, Gabe Thomason; Newcomer to Watch: Isaac Capshaw; Potential Breakout: Reese

Season Outlook: “We are attempting to find one more runner so that we can score as a team in all of our meets,” Lickliter said. “I have named Jayden the captain because he is our only senior, but more importantly he is a natural leader, both vocally and by example. He has advanced past the sectional before, and if he can stay healthy and injury free has the potential to be running in Terre Haute at the end of the season.”

FRANKTON

Head Coach: Andre Lo; 2021: Team advanced to regional; Key Loss: Blake Duncan; Expected to Return: Hunter Smith, Kaleb Cage, Braydon Tomlinson, Colson Falink, Jack Melvin

LAPEL

Head Coach: Darrell Richardson (33rd season); Key Loss: Tommy Manning; Key Returning Athletes: Cameron Smith, Braxton Burress, Elijah Stires; Newcomer to Watch: Simon Nickelson; Potential Breakout: Burress, Nickleson

Season Outlook: “Numbers are low (and) not much depth, so we are gonna have to be very fast,” Richardson said in an email.

LIBERTY CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Doug Osselaer (1st season); Key Losses: Ethan Ousley; Expected to Return: Noah Price, Joseph Culp, Aidan Draper

MADISON-GRANT

Head Coach: T.J. Herniak (5th season); 2021: Stephenson Invite champions, two regional qualifiers; Key Losses: Chad Harbert, Patrick Deckard; Key Returning Athletes: Gavin Kelich, Dylan Hofherr, Caleb Ewer, Jase Howell; Newcomers to Watch: Aiden Durr, Will Ewer; Potential Breakout: Hofherr

Season Outlook: “With the Argylls losing only one of their top five runners, they look to take another step forward this season with a more mature core group of runners that includes senior Jase Howell and juniors Dylan Hofherr, Caleb Ewer and Gavin Kelich,” Herniak said. “The strength of the Argylls will be focused around that core group as they set their sights on a top-five finish in the IWU Sectional this season.”

PENDLETON HEIGHTS

Head Coach: Melissa Hagerman (1st season); 2021: Madison County champions, advanced to regional; Key Loss: Avry Carpenter; Key Returning Athletes: Andrew Blake, Jason Lyst, Will Coggins; Newcomers to Watch: Benson Davis, Zack White, Devin Koperczak, Jackson Craig, Ashton Smith; Potential Breakout: Coggins, Jack Goehring

Season Outlook: “Coach (Alan) Holden decided to retire from coaching after 30-plus years,” Hagerman said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to coach the boys team. The boys have worked really hard this summer and have been dedicated to getting stronger and faster. We have some great senior leadership, and the team is focused on getting back to semistate and of course they want to work to compete at the state meet. Our success will reflect the work the team put in over the summer. We are looking forward to a great season.”

SHENANDOAH

Head Coach: John Davis (7th season); 2021: Sam Hinshaw — Henry County champion; Key Returning Athletes: Hinshaw, Logan Renz, Darren Croffie, Korbyn Wood; Newcomers to Watch: Kenyan Troxel, Michael Poffenbarger; Potential Breakout: Croffie, Wood

Season Outlook: “We are looking forward to individual personal records and the potential tournament advancements,” Davis said.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.

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