Despite losing two athletes from its Class B runner-up team a year ago, Watford City enters the girls cross-country season optimistic.
The Wolves must replace two of their top five runners from last year's state meet, yet Watford City coach Greg Brown said the task ahead is simple.
"It's just getting everybody to move up a couple of spots and keep improving our times," he said.
Watford City returns Asha Smith, who finished second individually with a time of 14 minutes, 54.26 seconds at the state meet as an eighth-grader a year ago and won a meet in Killdeer.
Despite being one of the youngest members on the team, Smith is already one its most accomplished.
In May, Smith won a state title in track and field with her two-mile time of 11:34.
Surrey also expects success
Surrey High School cross country coach Gary Walhaug is tasked with replacing one of the state's best runners from a year ago.
Ashley Brodehl, now at Minot State University, finished third on the team and 27th overall in last year's Class B meet.
The Mustangs do return three runners that finished in the top 50 of the meet in seniors Patience Albertson (16th) and Elizabeth Overton (50th) and sophomore Allison Klein (21st).
Walhaug expected his team to run 30-40 miles per week over the summer to get ready for the season, but said keeping up with his program was up to them.
"It's entirely up to them if they're following it or not," he said. "There's a lot of self-responsibility."
Surrey will participate in the Minot Rabbit Run at Maysa Arena on Friday.
"I kinda think I am (competitive)," Smith said. "My mom says I am and always have been since I was a kid. I'm very competitive."
Said Brown: "She does not like being beat. Even by the boys, she does not like being beat."
The Wolves also return freshman Lea Arndt, who finished 37th in the 2011 cross country state meet. Sophomore Addison Sundeen placed 31st.
Brown said Rugby was picked to finish higher than Watford City and that defending state champ Hillsboro "returns everybody."
"You're going to have to run really well this year in Dickinson to be in the top five," he said.
Watford City starts the season with the Williston Early Bird on Saturday.