After fading down the stretch a bit in 2018, a seasoned West Fargo girls cross country team seems primed to build on the early success it tasted last season.
After opening the season unranked, a Packer team with no seniors rose all the way to No. 2 in the Class A poll in October, coming in behind only state powerhouse Fargo Davies.
But after entering the postseason at less than 100 percent, West Fargo's production dipped slightly, as the Packers placed third at the Eastern Dakota Conference race before taking seventh at the state tournament.
Hopes for a bounce back are high this season, thanks largely to a strong senior class led by 2018 All-State runner Hope Pringle, who followed up a third-place run at EDC with a ninth-place finish at state.
Pringle will be joined by classmates Abby Klaman and Emily Hansen, who returns after missing both EDC and state with an injury.
"This year we have the most experienced crew of seniors since I have started coaching and that experience could prove helpful," fifth-year Packer coach Brad Amundson said."
Amundson is also confident that juniors Clare Boldingh and Paige Erbstoesser and sophomore Kaelyn Berg, who was second on the team with a run of 20:24.42 at state, will provide quality depth.
"We also have a great crew of younger athletes coming in" he said. "If the effort is there and they follow the lead of the seniors they could be great additions to our team."
A trio of seniors will lead the charge on the boys team as well, after West Fargo lost its top runner in Minnesota State Moorhead commit Braxton Bruer.
Aiden Biwer headlines a senior group that also includes Ryan Orth and Keller Lee. Biwer is the top returning state placer for the Packers, after finishing 45th in 17:17.07 last fall.
Junior Noah Vaagene is also hoping to show improvement after finishing just over four seconds behind Biwer (17:21.22) at state in 2018.
"(We) have experienced runners that have put in a lot of effort over the summer and years to help step into any roles we may have lost from last year," Amundson said.
The Packer boys and girls open the season this Saturday at 10 a.m. and an Invitational race in Hillsboro.