Last year, both the boys and girls cross country teams at Bryan County High School made it to the state Class A meet.
Coach Cindy Bennett expects more of the same this fall, or more.
Now in her 12th season, Bennett is upbeat about the prospects for her runners.
"I think my team is farther along right now than they've been at this point in the season in about eight years," Bennett said. "I'm optimistic about how we're going to do and look forward to good things."
There could be good reason.
Led by senior Rachel Anderson, who is "running really, really strong this year," Bennett said, the Lady Redskins won their first two meets of the 2011 season.
They made it three straight with the return of multi-sport standout Tiffany Howard, a two-time Region 3-A cross country champ, who along with softball teammates Sierra Newman and Macy Newman competed Sept. 21.
Without practice, Howard turned in time of 21 minutes, 50 seconds over the 5k course to run away from the competition and finish more than two minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, Claxton's Sallie Aguilar, who posted a 24:36.
Anderson placed third with a time of 24:43 while Marissa Whitaker and Courtney Markles rounded out the top five with times of 24:56 and 26:34, respectively.
On the boys' side, Claxton's Juan Salis took first with a 18:49, but Redskin Trent Minus, Justin Jones and Terry Hardy earned top five finishes to lead Bryan County to a team win. Minus placed second with a 19:24 while Jones was fourth at 20:10 and Hardy turned in a 20:17.
Metter's Jose Martinez was third with a 19:24.
Bennett expects Minus and Jones, both juniors, to lead the boys' team while Howard and Anderson will pace the girls.
"I was real impressed with the kids' times," Bennett said, noting every runner on her roster who competed Wednesday improved their time. "I'm pretty pleased with that. I think they're getting stronger."
But in cross country, much like track, regular season meets are really a series of tuneups for what really matters - which for Bryan County starts with the Region 3-A meet and a chance to knock off private school rivals Calvary Day, Savannah Christian and Savannah Country Day. The comes state.
"That's what I tell my kids," Bennett said. "They'll ask me why we run the day before a meet and I'll tell them nothing counts until we get to region, even the meets -- it's all practice to that point. And if they continue to work, I'm really optimistic about our ability to be competitive when we get to the region meet in October."
Girls: Bryan 23, Claxton 51, Metter no score
Boys: Bryan 26, Claxton 50, Metter 66
Amber Patterson, Kirsten Ford, Marissa Whitaker, Alyssa Holden, Samantha Dopp, Courtney Markles, Rachel Anderson, Brooke Edwards, Melissa Campbell, Amber Taylor, Tiffany Howard, Sierra Newman, Macy Newman
Collin Scott, Terry Hardy, Nick Wilkerson, Justin Jones, Trent Minis, Josh Crosby, Devan Sharpe, Jabari Fields, Kevin Achen, Anthony Blitch, Leevi Palmer, James Nichols, Xavier Turpin, James Sanderson, Stanley Hood