"We have more numbers this year, and a very positive, hard-working group of kids with good heads on their shoulders," said co-coach Amber Uhlenhake about the Kingsland cross-country team. "They create a very positive, motivating work environment each day at practice. And we couldn't ask for better leadership than what we have in our captains this year."

Co-head coach with Uhlenhake is Mollie McMahon. Both are starting their second year as co-coaches for the team.

Those captains are Dane Gillespie, Melinda Woods and Jamie Thompson. Nucleus for the team are Dane Gillespie (junior), Zachary Buchholtz (freshman) and Adam Buchholtz (sophomore), for the boys, and Erica Earley (freshman), Melinda Woods (senior), Jamie Thompson (senior), Jocelyn Voeltz (eighth grade) and Audrey Farlinger (eighth grade) for the girls.

"We are a very young, very inexperienced team," continued coach Uhlenhake. "Granted, this is what it takes to build up the program, but it will be a year of learning to race and pace before we can start to look towards winning meets and racing strategically.

"I think we'll see a lot of overall improvement from each athlete throughout the season, just due to how young and inexperienced the team is. This will be great to see on the results sheets, and fun to watch as the team progresses. I think we can have a solid showing from both Dane and Erica throughout the season, due to their experience and grit; they are stronger runners than they realize yet!"

Uhlenhake sees Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Dover-Eyota and St. Charles as the teams to beat in the conference.

"Our focus is learning to race and compete this season. If that lands us mid-field, excellent!" said Uhlenhake.