Coaches: Jennifer Fancher, head coach; Shea Barger, assistant coach.

Returning starters, other key runners: Junior sophomore Averie Akin and sophomores Katie Harper and Hailey Tedder return to lead the girls’ team. Akin was the team’s top runner a year ago as a sophomore but was forced to miss the GHSA Region 8-AAAAA championship meet due to a COVID-related quarantine and thus missed out on qualifying for the state meet. Fancher said a pair of newcomers, freshmen Anna Carter and Hailey Parzanese are showing “great potential.” Meanwhile, the boys’ team returns all of its varsity runners, with brothers senior Austin Sigman and junior Luke Sigman leading the pack. Junior Liam Graham and sophomore Jacob Galamo are in their first year running cross country, but Fancher said they are showing “a lot of promise.”

Team strengths and areas most in need of improvement: “Our area of strength is a lot of our team ran track (last spring) and dropped time really well,” Fancher said. “Our runners have really invested in training year-round and put a lot of hard work in this summer. This group was small last year, so they have become really close to one another and that has allowed for a true team atmosphere to exist. As for areas of improvement, we need to drop our splits. We have some very talented runners, but in order to score well we need them crossing the finish line closer together. We have to work harder for the pack mentality when race day comes.”

Region outlook: After COVID quarantines kept the teams from having everyone available for the region championship meet last year, Apalachee is hoping for better luck this season. Apalachee has its first meet Saturday, Aug. 21, at home, and Fancher said by then they should have times to compare to other region opponents. “We didn’t lose many of our top runners, so I know we still have a highly competitive team in the region,” she said.

Season outlook: “This season we plan to focus on our goal of making it to state,” Fancher said. “We have more freshmen this year than last so we have to work on running with a younger team and teaching them how to run smart as well as fast. With Coach Barger returning, we have a great coaching staff to push and challenge each of our runners to reach their full potential. Last year was a disappointing ending so we just want to finish strong. I am very excited to see what each of these kids can do as they are pushed further and harder than ever before. The best part is they have really bonded as a team so they will hold each other accountable.”

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