In reality, last season was full of unexpected surprises. And now, with a year to ponder the Wallowa High School girls' cross country team's successful 2005 campaign and the return of its rising star, Monique McKenzie, who qualified for the state meet last year, head coach Jess Turner has a plan to make sure the Cougs' cross country program continues to grow.
The strategy is simple, really.
"I'm just trying to make sure that they're training smart, and that they're resting when they need to, but working hard when they need to," Turner said.
Turner returns a small group - seniors Riley Wortman, and Victoria Silveira and sophomores McKenzie and Price Both - but his expectations remain high.
Even though WHS doesn't have enough runners to field a complete team, Turner says has three goals. The first is to have McKenzie return to the state meet, where she placed 44th last season. He not only wants her to qualify again, but finish in the top ten among the elite runners.
Another one of his goals is to have his two seniors place in the top seven at district, which would give them a spot at the state meet. His final objective for the 2006 season is to help each of his runners improve their times each meet they participate in.
"I have a great bunch of kids running for me and I want them to reach their potential and more," Turner said.
Some of the training methods Turner says he's been working on with his team are multiple conditioning workouts, which focus on the full body and the core.
Since the season is young he says that he will increase his runners' road miles week by week and he hopes it will help them to improve their times.
Wallowa's first meet, the Vale Invitational, is set for Saturday at Vale. Runners begin the course at noon, Mountain Time.