The Bishop Ryan cross country teams enter the 2012 season with more fresh faces than returners.
Five girls and four boys join teams this year that finished 16th and 30th, respectively, at last season's Class B meet - figures that don't faze second-year coach Jim Vitko.
"I'm really satisfied," he said. "We have a lot of young, new runners coming out. But they all have a lot of potential."
Sophomore Monica Anderson is the only female Lion back. She placed first on her team, 58th overall, by running a 17 minute, 19.52 second time at the state meet.
She'll be joined by junior Alex Smith, sophomore Emily Booth and eighth graders Charlotte Wade, Evie Brady and Sadie Lonebear.
"Seeing other girls around my age this year helps me out a little bit," Anderson said. "Last year, all the girls were older than me. Now that they're my age you feel a little more confident and comfortable in my surroundings."
August - Today, Minot Rabbit Run at Maysa Arena Grounds, 4 p.m.; Thursday, Mouse River Local Meet at Velva Star City, 4 p.m.
September - 8, Becky Wells Invite at Dickinson Heart River, 10 a.m.; 15, Mandan Kiwanis at Mandan Municipal, 1 p.m.; 22, Beulah/Hazen Invite, 10 a.m.; 29, Shiloh Invitational at McDowell Dam, 11 a.m.
October - 6, Rugby Invitational, 11 a.m.; 13, West Region meet at Jamestown Hillcrest, noon; 27, State meet at Dickinson Heart River, 11 a.m.
Meet the Lions
Junior - Alex Smith
Sophomores - Monica Anderson, Emily Booth
Eighth-graders - Charlotte Wade, Evie Brady, Sadie LoneBear
Juniors - Mitch Medalen, Dominic Anderson
Sophomore - Isaac Niess
Freshmen - Brandon Booth, Mason Merck, Anthony Vitko
On the boys side, freshman Anthony Vitko - Jim Vitko's son - and junior Mitch Medalen are the lone returners. Junior Dominic Anderson, sophomore Isaac Niess and freshmen Brandon Booth and Mason Merck are running for the first time. Dominic Anderson won't be able to run in varsity meets this year after transferring from Minot High.
"I kinda like having small teams," said Medalen, who also plays basketball and runs track. "You kinda get to know everyone on the team better."
Jim Vitko, who has been an active runner for 27 years, said he won't be able to field complete five-person teams at all the meets because so many are new to the sport.
"We're going to want to compete," he said, "but being a young team it's just to get them out there and build their skills at this point."
The season starts with the 2.5-mile Minot Rabbit Run today at the Maysa Arena Grounds. Anthony Vitko said that while no team goal has been set, he has a benchmark he would like to set.
"I'd like to get an 8:30 mile if I could," he said.