When his team competed at the Suburban League Super Duals last year, Cuyahoga Falls 28th-year head boys cross country coach Bob Koch's team looked a bit overmatched.
"We didn't beat anybody," he said.
Fortunately, the Black Tigers made significant strides as the season progressed. As a result, Falls ended up finishing sixth at the National Conference meet in its 2015 regular-season finale.
"We ended up moving up two places," Koch said. "We ran much stronger at the end of the year."
Koch hopes such momentum can continue this fall. If the Black Tigers are going to do just that, they will have to do so without the services of three seniors.
They are Caleb Freeman, Alex Mayes and Sean Markovic.
"We have some shoes to fill," Koch said.
Falls will have its top runner back in the mix. Senior Kyle Wilson, who was the team's No. 1 runner in all of the Black Tigers' 2015 races, returns.
"We're hope Kyle can lower his PR [personal record]," Koch said. "He's at 16:38."
The other returning seniors are Tommy Hillyer and Cody Zrelak, who ran on the varsity team as a sophomore.
Senior Jacob Strausser, a standout in the 400-meter race during the track and field season, will give 5K running a try.
"Jacob told me he's not just doing this to get in shape for track," Koch said. "He wants to get on varsity. I love hearing that."
The two returning juniors are Bronson Luksza and Jay Wilson.
"Bronson was our second man in every race," Koch said. "Jay made great strides in track."
Other team members include junior Dylan Campbell, a 400 runner during the spring, and sophomores Tom Gregory and Justin Hinkle.
"Justin did a great job as a member of the 4x8 [3,200-meter relay] in track," Koch said.
Koch also has a plethora of freshmen on the roster. They are Sterling Hansleman, who ran for his eighth-grade team, Andrew Kuntz, who ran during his last two years in middle school, Zach Langbein, who enters his third year of running cross country, Anthony Nichols, Tony Sondles and Jack Wilcoxson.
"Andrew shows strength beyond his years," Koch said. "He has a good shot of getting on varsity. Zach broke his arm at the beginning of the summer. He shows a lot of potential.
"Anthony was in the top five in our preview meet at Goodyear Park. Tony was in our top seven at our preview meet.
"Jack was our No. 1 runner most of the time in middle school. He broke five minutes as an eighth-grader. His dad, Chris, ran for me during my first year . He was an All-Metro League runner."
Koch's assistant coach is Falls' graduate Stuart Davis.
Hudson won the National Conference title last year.
The Black Tigers are scheduled to make their 2016 debut against Firestone Aug. 23 at Bolich Middle School. The race is set to begin at 5 p.m.
Falls is scheduled to run at the Seneca Tiger Classic Aug. 27 in Attica. The race is set to begin at 9 a.m.