Air Academy Girls XC, 2017

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Tatum Miller takes her turn at leading the Kadet parade this fall.

It's tough when you lose Katie Rainsberger and Maria Mettler in back-to-back years of graduation. But, don't get to feeling too badly for Air Academy. This isn't exactly a team on the brink of collapse.

There's plenty coming back. 

Heir apparent to the driver's seat at Air Academy is sophomore Tatum Miller. Miller made a considerable splash as a freshman last year (both in cross country and in track) and figures to be next in the line of dominant Air Academy front runners. That much of the beat goes on. 

What isn't as clear is how the ranks will likely fall in behind Miller. 

Lilli Hamilton will be a senior this fall. Paige Embaugh and Mackenzie Moss will be juniors this year. All three are highly capable runners. Each have experienced some highs and lows in their high school careers. If the lows are behind them, this group is as good as any 2-3-4 you'll see in the state. 

Ella Jane Urschel came up with Tatum Miller in last year's freshman class and enjoyed a solid debut season in cross country. In an abbreviated track season, at least from the standpoint of rankings meets, she ran 5:55 and 13:08. 

If Urschel comes back like she ran last fall, it's very good news for Air Academy's cross country fortunes. 

Another strong roster-filling possibility is Sophia Braza, who didn't run track this spring, but did run 19:11 at Desert Twilight last fall.

One thing Air Academy will be trying to avoid this year is the late-season sluggishness that plagued last year's Kadet squad. Early in the season last fall, Air Academy had the look and swagger of a team that would blow through and win it all. Even as late as the week leading up to State, Air Academy had a lot of folks believing it was their race to lose. But, the Kadets couldn't deliver the goods at State. That should be a motivating memory for this year's team.


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