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West Delaware’s 2019 girls cross country team: front from left, Kamille Hawker, manager, Kaleah Carter, Gabrielle Schuman, Alexis McTaggart, Cayleigh Painter, Hanna Axline, Jadyn Werner, Lucy Loecke, Karsyn Welcher, Reagan Dolan, Katie McGrane, Macie Putz, Faith Litterer and Makayla Gaspar; back row, Sylvie Mersch, Isabella Willey, Gracie Weeks, Jasmine Tran, Sydney Lorang, Allison Mullen, Keara Emerson, Becca Farmer, Faith Rich, Brigid McMahon, Mikaila Neuzil, Brooklyn Lewin and Grace Millenkamp.

When it comes to the West Delaware girls cross country team, the parts of the puzzle are there. It will be up to head coach Ben Moser and his runners to put the puzzle together.

This year’s squad returns six letterwinners and five starters from last year’s team. Throw in some talented newcomers and the Hawks should be a fun team to watch develop this fall.

Returning for the Hawks are seniors Hannah Axline and Gracie Weeks, juniors Katie McGrane and Brigid McMahon and sophomores Lucy Loecke and Jasmine Tran.

Moser expects those returners to be pushed by newcomers that include junior Karsyn Welcher, sophomores Grace Millenkamp and Makayla Gasper and freshmen Brooklyn Lewin and Faith Litterer.

“We have a strong core group, with lots of varsity racing experience returning,” Moser said. “We have strong leadership from our seniors again. We also have some key new additions that I think will really help us out.”

Moser said the first week of practice brought lots of discussion about this team’s potential. “Now it’s all about turning that potential into results,” he said.

Although several runners return with experience, Moser knows the bulk of his team is in the younger grades. “That means we are fairly young. There are so many unknowns about this team that I think you could say that is both a strength and a weakness.”

Moser, who begins his eighth year of leading the Hawks, gives the conference nod to Williamsburg. After that, his picks for conference favorites in order are Solon, Mount Vernon, Center Point-Urbana and Benton Community. He predicts his Hawks to finish somewhere between fifth and eighth in the WaMaC.

He said his team has worked hard in practice. “The girls put in a lot of time over the summer and early in practice. We won’t know where we are at until our first meet, but I think the future is pretty bright for us.”