The Cougars begin the season with a four-team home meet Aug. 27.
LOYOLA GIRLS: Coach Dale Compton has around 13 girls out for the team, returning the top five runners from 2012.
A year ago, seventh-grader Kyla Haas burst on to the scene late in the season and ended up qualifying for state. She placed 44th at the Class A meet.
Junior Mary Ninneman is another top returner. She has been a key contributor since seventh grade, and Compton says her leadership will be as valuable to the team as her times.
Ninth-grader Laynie Kubista was a top-five runner on varsity last season and is expected to do the same this year. Senior Elizabeth Piepho is back and fellow senior Justine Compton, who has been hampered by injuries for much of her career, is back out as well.
Eighth-grader Allison Rupp is another runner who expects to challenge for a Top 5 spot in 2013.
Coach Compton says United South Central and Martin County West are the favorites in the Gopher Valley Conference. USC, Waseca and Fairmont are the perennial favorites in the Section 2A meet.
He says realistic goals are are a top three finish in the conference and a top-four finish in the section.
WEST BOYS: Coach Joe Broze begins his third season with the team and says the numbers are up with an influx of about 30 runners in grades seven and eight. He has around 50 kids out overall.
No. 1 runner from last year Trace Johnson has graduated. He was All-Big Nine in 2012 and will be missed.
On the positive side, co-captains Andrew Fritz and Ben Broze return to anchor the Top 5 runners. Fritz is a senior, and Broze is a junior.
Tanner Johnson is a solid No. 3 runner and then things get a little murky. Sophomores Jake Jankoski and Cedar Mowrey are among the top candidates for the final starting spots.