“When I took the job it was with the expectation that things wouldn't change,” said new coach Phil Yoder. “And the girls on this team expect to keep on winning as well.”
Yoder takes over for Raber, who had a remarkable 10-year run leading the Chargers. And even with heavy graduation losses from a team that finished a disappointing sixth at last year's state meet, Carroll should continue the streaks.
Like the most recent Carroll teams, the 2013 version doesn't have a dominant front-runner. The strength is in the pack, even if it is a little inexperienced.
“We had a few girls run their first real big race and they were solid,” Yoder said after Saturday's Huntington North Invitational. “We've got two (varsity) girls out, but still have a strong top six. Any of them are capable of leading us in a race.”
Among that group are senior Londyn Wise; juniors Stacey Metzger, Megan Doty and Kate Morris; sophomore Madison Fruchey; and freshman Allison Thomas.
That group will be chasing area front-runners Samantha Roush (Columbia City) and Marina Konow (Concordia), who led the area at last year's state meet with 24th and 25th place (All-State) finishes respectively. Roush is going for her fourth All-State recognition this fall.
Konow leads a Cadets team that will be Carroll's biggest challenge in the area. Concordia returns four of its top seven from a team that placed 14th at the state meet.
“Marina is running really tough right now,” Concordia coach Gregg Osborn said. “She's had a great summer and is ready to go.”
Osborn said that while his Cadets do not have Carroll's depth, they are very strong up front.
“Our top three are going to be real strong,” Osborn said, alluding to Michaela Harrison, Anna Greene and Konow. “After that, we have two more who are solid and then a couple of more after that.”
Challenging Carroll and Concordia will be Homestead, which returns six of its top seven from last year's 17th-place team at the state meet.
The Spartans add the area's top freshman: Madison Distelrath.
“We have great leaders on our team,” said Homestead coach Sara Wyss. “They've welcomed Maddie with open arms. There's less pressure on them now and we are so deep with our pack.”
Homestead's pack includes Grace Walther, Mary Podlaski, Taylor Busch and Shannon Didier.