Anna Busath was new to Palmer Ridge cross country and track and field last year, but you wouldn't have guessed it by her performances.
You're already accustomed to thinking of the Palmer Ridge boys as a dominant team. You might soon need to get the same thought started with the girls. Their time is just about here.
Sure, Battle Mountain is the 4A Girls favorite until someone knocks them off that pedestal, but Palmer Ridge stakes a pretty good claim to being a very competitive team this fall. too.
Specifically, the Bears bring back five sub-20s from cross country last fall, seven 5:40-or-better 1600s, and six 12:03-or-better 3200s. That's a pretty good foundation. Coaches dream of teams with this kind of pack running potential.
Add incoming freshmen Isabella Prosceno and Maren Busath to that mix and you have all the elements, plus a few, of a very competitive team this fall.
Nicole Phaneuf just might have jumped to the front of the pack of returning runners last spring. But, this is a tight group. Anna Busath, Shelby Wood, Madeleine Bonneau, Aubrey Wood, Katie Cole, Emily Gentry, and Caitlin O'Grady all tend to run in fairly close company.
Shelby Wood missed the outdoor season, so we'll have to wait and see where she picks up this fall.
It's a shame here that seven runners makes a varsity roster. The biggest issue Coach Rob Collins faces this fall just might be getting this group down to seven by State. The decisions don't figure to be easy.
The team also happens to have a nice mix of ages. Bonneau, Phaneuf, O'Grady and Aubrey Wood check in as seniors this fall. Cole and Gentry will be juniors. Anna Busath and Shelby Wood will be sophomores. Plenty of senior leadership; plenty of youthful enthusiasm to greet the new season.
This team doesn't figure to be especially flashy. At this moment, there are no obvious go-to-the-front-and-pound-the-field-into-submission types, but this is a team that should be very good at getting its sixth and seventh runners across before even a lot of good teams have their fourth across.
This is a team that can beat you deep in the order. And that is a team to be feared.