Greenbrier's cross country program last season was headlined by one name: Taylor Snyder.
The former Wolfpack standout, who will run at Mercer University this fall, was the one runner the rest of the team looked up to.
This year, Greenbrier has a group to share the leadership responsibility as it prepares to play host to the first meet of the season Wednesday at Blanchard Woods Park.
"Everyone was looking up just to him," senior Joey Castillo said of last year's team. "Now we've got a solid three, four or five people who are a solid front line."
Castillo and fellow senior Robert Blackwelder are captains and charged with bringing along the team's younger runners.
The pair have helped institute practice drills they picked up at a camp this summer.
The seniors' responsibilities include telling younger runners where to go, what to do, and how to prepare for practice and meets, Blackwelder said.
"We're going tell them how they're going to be feeling and how to get through it," he said. "Especially at our home course (Blanchard Woods), we know what to do. We run it all the time. We'll tell them when to push (and) when you might have some time to slow down."
The Wolfpack boys also will be led by Barret Duncan, who finished third at the 2008 Region 2-AAAAA meet. The Wolfpack are the defending region champions.
At Lakeside, the Panthers girls are expecting a boost from a freshman.
Sarah Bowles, sister of Lakeside standout Anna Bowles, will run for Lakeside's girls team.
Panthers coaches say the younger Bowles is already running at a similar pace to Anna and teammate Katie Townsend, who both finished top 10 at the Class AAAA state meet a year ago.
"The top three are amazing," said Lakeside community coach Ken Bowles, Anna and Sarah's father. "Where they're at right now, we'll have three girls under 19 (minutes) and probably one under 18. That's as good as it gets in the state."
Bowles believes Sarah, along with a strong effort from the other three contributing scorers, could be the piece Lakeside's girls need to win a state title.
The Panthers girls got a boost last season from sophomore Carolyn Hennecken, a Panthers basketball player who runs during the offseason. Hennecken finished fourth at the Region 3-AAAA meet in 2008 despite not running a full training schedule.
"She's a tremendous talent," Bowles said. "She's had summer basketball, so we're just getting her into it."
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