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Rockdale counting on experience

CONYERS - New Rockdale cross country coach Chester Fuller is hoping experience pays big dividends this fall.

Both the Rockdale boys and girls squads have plenty of veteran runners for the 2009 campaign.

"We have an experienced squad with most of the female runners returning." Fuller said. "Our strength is our experience. Most of our runners have participated for two to three years and should be able to bring our younger runners along. I expect some of our JV runners to compete for varsity spots. Internal competition will be the focus during the season."

On the girls side, the Lady Bulldogs' key returning runners are Emily Boyer, Lauren Coursey, Sophia Tuttle and Lindsey Geise. For the boys, Ken Shinmura and Kari Logan are back for the Bulldogs.

Fuller is also looking for good things on the boys team from newcomers Ferris Barber and Bobby Lewis.

"Our main concern is keeping all of our runners healthy," Fuller said. "We expect to be an improved team with each meet. As with other teams, we hope to peak during regional competition. Our top five for both the boys and girls should be competitive with anyone of them finishing first on the team."

Last season, the Rockdale girls placed ninth in the Region 8-AAAA meet, while the Rockdale boys did not post a team score.

So far this year, Rockdale has competed in one race, the Jaguar Invitational, held last Saturday in Griffin.

The Rockdale girls finished seventh in their season-opening meet. Coursey posted the best time at 26 minutes, 6 seconds.

The Rockdale boys finished ninth in their first race. Sophomore Forest Freeman turned in the Bulldogs' best effort at 22:11.

Both squads return to action Saturday in the Stage Races at Peachtree Ridge High School.

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

SideBar: At a glance

· Teams: Rockdale cross country

· Coach: Chester Fuller (first season)

· Last year: Girls finished ninth in Region 8-AAAA; boys did not post team score in region meet

· Next meet: Saturday in the Stages Races at Peachtree Ridge