CONYERS - Rockdale cross country coach Scott Bolen is optimistic about the 2008 season, especially when it comes to his girls squad.
This year, the Lady Bulldogs will feature a roster full of experienced runners when they open their season Saturday at the Jaguar Invitational at Spalding High School in Griffin.
"I think the girls have the opportunity to be one of the best teams Rockdale County High School has fielded in quite some time," Bolen said. "The boys will have to work hard to earn respect, but I am hopeful that they can improve from week to week, meet to meet."
The Lady Bulldogs will be led by juniors Emily Boyer and Lauren Coursey, who were mainstays on last year's squad that finished ninth in the Region 8-AAAA championship meet.
"Our girls team is full of returning runners, and that is exciting. Emily Boyer and Lauren Coursey will lead our girls lineup that is full of experienced juniors," Bolen said. "They know what to expect at a meet, and I think that will show in their results."
On the boys side, Bolen is looking for Jesus Martinez and Kari Logan to lead the way.
"As for the boys, we are relatively young," Bolen said. "However, I hope that senior Jesus Martinez and junior Kari Logan will provide the leadership needed to help our younger runners develop."
Last year, the Rockdale boys finished 11th in the region meet. They lost one of their top performers, Aaron Bullock, to graduation.
Bolen has two new runners in Caitlyn VanHeest and Ken Shinmura that he feels will make a huge impact for both his squads this season.
"For the girls, Caitlyn VanHeest will make an impact this year. She comes from a family of runners who competed at both Rockdale County High School and Heritage High School in the past," Bolen said. "As far as the boys are concerned, Ken Shinmura is showing a great deal of potential in practice. Our problem is that right now we don't have any boys who can run with him and help push him to get better. I hope that he can push our other boys by challenging them in practice each and every day."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
Team: Rockdale cross country
Coach: Scott Bolen (Fourth season)
Last year: Girls finished ninth in Region 8-AAAA, boys finished 11th
Key returning runners: Emily Boyer, Lauren Coursey, Kari Logan and Jesus Martinez
First meet: Saturday at Jaguar Invitational in Griffin