The four-time defending Class AA state boys’ champion Wildcats and three-time defending AA title-holder Lady Wildcats are both in their customary position — atop the state rankings — early in the 2012 season.
Maintaining that high perch may be more of a challenge for the Westminster boys, who lost six of their top seven runners from last year’s AA state titlists.
“Right now, the kids are working hard,” Westminster assistant boys coach Geoffrey Sudderth said. “But, six of our top seven runners graduated. In the varsity, group, we have juniors and seniors, but they don’t have a lot of experience.”
Westminster’s girls aren’t facing the same challenge as their male counterparts as the Lady Wildcats return most of their standouts from their 2011 AA championship squad.
“Everything is going quite well,” Westminster girls’ coach Amy Eubanks said. “We’re off to a good start and things are running smoothly.”
The Westminster boys have competed in three meets so far, finishing third at the Kosh Classic and Clara Bowl Invitational and ninth at the Carrollton Invitational.
The girls’ team also has appeared in three meets, defeating archrival Lovett 15-49 in a dual meet, finishing fourth at the Carrollton Invitational and beating Woodward Academy 15-50 last Wednesday.
Westminster’s boys are boosted by the return of defending AA individual state champion Jordan Flowers — the lone returner among the Wildcats’ top seven from last year.
Flowers finished ninth with a time of 17 minutes, 7 seconds at the Clara Bowl meet and was 21st (17:24) at the Carrollton meet.
“Jordan Flowers is our No. 1 guy,” Sudderth said. “He won the state championship last year and he’s ready to go out there and have another great season.”
The Wildcats do have a core of solid veteran leadership in senior co-captains Walker Green, Adam Willis, Joe Sheehan and Gaston Quantz.
“Those four guys have been running cross country here their whole high school careers,” Sudderth said. “We’re expecting leadership from them this year.”
First-year runner Jack Bondurant, a junior, is a promising newcomer for the Wildcats.
The Westminster girls return their star runner as three-time Class AA champion Sahara Fletcher seeks a fourth straight state title in her senior season.
Fletcher got her 2012 season off to a strong start with a time of 19:11 in the Lady Wildcats dual meet win over Woodward.
“She is just an excellent runner,” Eubanks said. “She’s very talented and works hard and wants to do well. She has had a very successful career here.”
Junior Kay Crawford is another one of the Lady Wildcats’ key runners, along with seniors Martha Stewart Fuqua ,Sara McGahan and Emily Fuqua.