With nine runners returning from last year, three of them seniors, the Maquoketa Valley boys are looking for a successful cross country season and maybe an improvement on their seventh-place state finish of last year.

Seniors Chance Downs, Mason Lubben and Derek Mensen lead the returning contingent, comprised of junior Ethan Doyl and sophomores Cy Huber, Nolan Ries, Michael Schaul, Preston Roling and Brock Trenkamp. Also in the mix will be newcomer Landin Frasher, a freshman.

“All of our scoring runners are back,” said coach fourth-year assistant coach Sara Dever. “We have strong leadership from our seniors and we’re looking to improve our state finish from last season.

“Our biggest strength is togetherness. Watching these guys run as a pack just brings you joy. Their commitment to each other is what makes them special.”

Dever, assistant to head coach Pat Meehan, added, “Chance and Mason both had unfortunate starts to their summer training (injuries from different things) but both are bouncing back. They’re great training partners and actually rode RAGBRAI together this year. They are great kids.”

With just five returning runners from last season, the Maquoketa Valley girls may be called upon to work extra hard.

Returning to lead the team is lone senior Ci’Ann Richardson. She joins returnees Annie Trenkamp a junior, and sophomores Kriya Atwell, Jordan Hogan and Reece Mensen. A couple of newcomers will join the mix: senior Jaiden Porter and sophomore Emma Doyl, whose brother Ethan runs for the boys team.

“We’ve struggled to fill the girls team in the past, but this year, we’ve done it,” exclaimed Dever. “We have seven girls, two of them new to cross country. Senior Jaiden Porter had a great track season and decided to give cross country a try. We are so glad she and Emma are out. They both work extremely hard and have been good additions to the team.”

Dever added, “The team will be fun to watch this season.”