With just two seniors lost from last year's boys team and no seniors lost for the girls team, the outlook for the Storm Lake High cross country team looks bright, according to coach John Brostad.
The two seniors lost on the boys team from 2003 were co-captains Sam Becker and Adam Sievers.
A two year letterwinner, Brostad said Becker "was an extremely hard worker and solid team leader who will be greatly missed."
Sievers was also a co-captain and a four year letterwinner for the Tornadoes in cross country.
"Adam is attending the Air Force Academy this fall," Brostad said. "He was also a very hard worker and a solid team leader who will be greatly missed.'
The returning letterwinners for the boys team include seniors Erik Borke and Brett Miller, juniors Phil Becker, Dan Christiansen, Adam Kelly, Eric Sievers and Kevin Wulfekuhler and sophomore Joe Cullen.
"We have our top four runners returning and eight letterwinners returning so we have plenty of varsity experience," Brostad said. "We have four or five guys who could all challenge for the number one spot so we have good depth overall.
"The guys have been running more this summer so we should have a stronger team."
On the less positive side, Brostad added that "we need more middle school, freshman and sophomore boys out to continue to have a solid program."
Newcomers out for the boys team include senior Alfredo Aldana, junior Tony Bedel, a freshmen Derek Brock, Justin Cullen, Geoff Ullerich, Jesse Munger and Daren Koehler.
Hull Western Christian won the Lakes Conference title last season and they return three all-conference runners who finished in the top ten of the conference meet.
"Spirit Lake, Cherokee and Spencer all return one Lakes Conference performer and Sheldon should also be solid," Brostad said.
Last season, the Tornado boys finished sixth and had no All-Lakes performers but three were close.
"We should be competitive for a top half finish and I'd like to think we could finish in the top three if we remain healthy.
"Estherville has one All-Lakes returnee and is looking to move up from seventh," Brostad added. "LeMars and Emmetsburg will round out the conference. The unknown is if there are any freshmen who come in and give a particular team a big boost."
Experience is the byword for the 2004 Tornado girls cross country team, according to Brostad.
"If we are to improve on our ninth-place finish the gals will have had to put in a lot of summer miles," Brostad said. "Heather Henrich had knee surgery this summer and may miss part or all of the season. We also need more middle school, freshman and sophomore gals gals to be out for cross country."
The returning letterwinners for the girls team are seniors Katie Barragan, Alison Douglas, Henrich, Grace Kohl, Robyn Kruse and Anna Paulsen. Juniors returning include Lindsey Dreher, Abby Mohr and Ashley Solem while sophomore Julie Manatham also returns.
New to cross country for the Tornado girls in 2004 are senior Shannon Walsh, sophomore Levina Williams and freshmen Heather Douglas and Amanda Cavanaugh.
"We have everyone back from last season," Brostad said. "We have a lot of varsity experience coming back."
Brostad added that Sheldon and Spirit Lake have two All-Lakes returnees and Spirit Lake has the defending individual champion in Caedryn Schrunk.
"Sheldon is the defending Lakes Conference team champion," he added. "Cherokee and Emmetsburg each have an All-Lakes returnee which placed in the top five so they'll also be in the mix for a top four finish.
"Estherville placed fourth last year and has three All-Lakes runners returning so they could be a threat for the title. Those five teams will be very good.
"I think Spencer, LeMars, Hull Western Christian and Storm Lake will be competitive for the sixth through ninth spots. Again, injuries and incoming freshmen will made a difference in the outcome for each of the teams."