PENDLETON - With 34 runners out for the Pendleton Buckaroos cross country team, first-year coach Nicole Stewart says she is excited with the prospects this season.
Stewart, a 1992 Pendleton High graduate, ran cross country and track for the school before making her mark at Montana State.
Although the boys team lost a few runners to graduation, they have young newcomers and some with varsity experience.
James Harwood, John Campbell, Kyle Burnside and Darren Burnside all return with varsity experience.
"Kyle and Darren are very tough and getting stronger," Stewart said. "We also have Robert Thorne, the school's top sprinter, out for cross country. He has great potential."
Lost to graduation last year was Robert Johlke, but younger brother Ryan, a freshman, has come out for the team and according to Stewart, "has the same talent as his brother."
Stewart is pleased with the hard work of Sam Spino and Brian McBee, but is excited to have Andrew Crowder out for the team.
"The boys have a lot of potential," Stewart said. "We're setting goals for the season so we can make a respectable show at districts."
The girls team did not suffer any losses to graduation and return virtually their whole team. Fourteen girls have come out for cross country this year.
Some of the top returnees are Alina Haberstroh, Keri Kordatsky and Jaymi Grant. Krystal Pond and Jessica Harrison also bring some experience to the team.
"Jamie has a strong running background," Stewart said. "She ran the 1500 and 300 at district and Jessica ran the 800."
With the addition of Rosalee McMurrian and freshman Hillary Harshman, the Bucks should have a strong team.
"The girls team is looking good with all the returning runners," Stewart said. "I'm pretty excited about having 14 girls out."