Seminoles a blend of experience, youth

CONYERS - The Salem cross country teams are hoping a good mix of veterans and new energetic runners will pay dividends this fall.

On the boys side, the Seminoles boys return five runners from last season in Logan Gunzenhauser, Taylor Horton, Bo Bateman, Austin McCullers and Erin Penn. McCullers finished 51st last year in the region meet, while Horton placed 55th and Gunzenhauser was 66th

However, the Seminoles lost Mitch Purvis and Daniel Revo to graduation. Purvis and Revo finished in the top 25 at the Region 8-AAAA championships last year, leading the Salem boys to a seventh-place team finish.

For the girls team, junior Shannon Christian is coming off an impressive sophomore campaign. Christian finished 11th in the Region 8-AAAA championships and was a first-team selection on the 2007 All-Area Cross Country Team. Lindsay Kaiser and Taylor Perkins are also back off last year's squad for the Lady Seminoles.

Stacey Vinson was the only key loss to graduation for a Salem girls squad that finished 10th in last year's Region 8-AAAA meet.

"A team strength is that we have a good mix of veteran leadership and new energetic runners," Salem coach Kurt Peters said. "Our training has been light and serious at the same time. As the season unfolds, we'll be as competitive as we can be. But our goal remains that every runner improves and enjoys cross country. Assistant coach Ryan Baldassaro and I look forward to a successful season."

Salem opens the season today with a meet at Newton. This weekend, the Seminoles will make their first appearance in large meet, running in the Rock Ranch Invitational hosted by Pike County.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Salem cross country

Coach: Kurt Peters (First season)

Last year: Boys finished seventh in Region 8-AAAA, girls placed 10th

Key returning runners: Bo Bateman, Shannon Christian, Logan Gunzenhauser, Taylor Horton, Lindsay Kaiser, Austin McCullers, Eric Penn, Taylor Perkins

First meet: Today at Newton