Greenwood Christian Academy senior Allie Dalton has always set very high standards for herself.

“She is very driven,” Cougars coach Joseph Slater said. “To some extent, some of my job is to keep that in check. She’s a girl that in the past has been prone to overtraining a bit. We’re trying not to put too much physical or emotional stress on her.”

Dalton ran for Greenwood Community her first two seasons before transferring to Greenwood Christian for the 2014-15 school year, when she won the Franklin Sectional, South Dearborn Regional titles. She had her best time in winning the regional with a personal-best time of 18:02. Dalton finished sixth in the Carmel Semistate and then placed 21st in the girls state meet in 18:35.06.

“She was one position out of being an All-State runner, and it was a pretty loaded girls field,” Slater said. “It was probably one of the most competitive fields in years.”

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However, Dalton is quick to point out it wasn’t her best season by any means — since she had finished fourth in the state meet as a sophomore with a time of 18:03.1 and 10th in the state meet as a freshman.

“Last season was kind of more of a struggle,” Dalton said. “I’m hoping this season will be better than the last. I didn’t finish as high in the state meet, and my times weren’t as high as I wanted them to be, either.”

Dalton was hampered by illness issues in the spring.

“Her track season was not what she wanted it to be, but still qualified for the state meet in the 3,200 (finishing 26th),” Slater said. “To me, getting to the state meet in a loaded girls class is not a bad year, but she still will tell you she was disappointed. She was off her best times from the year before by a little bit.”

Dalton said it was disappointing not to make the podium at both the cross-country and track meets.

“I’m hoping God blesses me with a better season and a chance to get on the podium again,” Dalton said. “I dealt with a few health issues this summer. But I feel better. It might take a couple of weeks until I’m 100 percent. I feel a lot more healthy than I did last season.”

Her goal is to get as close as she can to the 17-minute mark.

“She has a good energy level,” Slater said of her recent workouts. “The second half of the summer she has been training very well. She has ambition and believes she can be one of the top (state) finishers. We don’t talk about that a lot. We don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on her. We want to focus on the journey. We want her to take each week, each meet at a time knowing there is something big in front of you. We’re not dwelling on that end result as much as making progress.”

Dalton’s older sister Lauren, a 2016 graduate, ran cross-country at Greenwood Christian last season. Her younger sisters, Hannah, a freshman, and Emma, a sophomore, are competing this season.

“Hannah is playing volleyball as well, so she’s doing two sports,” Allie Dalton said. “Emma is trying to stay in shape and stay healthy. She is doing it for me because I like having a good team of girls.”

Girls cross country preview capsules

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Wes Dodson

Last year: Won the Johnson County, sectional and regional championships; second in Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference meet; eighth in semistate meet

Who’s back: Rachel Chan, Maddie Keeley and Morgan Wright, seniors; Tori Martin, junior; Valerie Clark, Stephanie Embree and Nina Fujii, sophomores

Who’s gone: Taylor Hickey, Alexa Kovacs

New kids on the block: Lorenda Godfrey, senior; Julia Falcone and Gabrielle Harrell, freshmen

Outlook: The Trojans have five girls with varsity experience from last season, including Clark, who placed fourth in the sectional and fifth in the regional. “The ultimate goal for our team is to qualify for the state meet,” Dodson said. “We were close last year and return some very good runners.” The Trojans are shooting for their 16th county title in a row as well as their fifth consecutive sectional and third consecutive regional crown.

Dodson says: “These girls have worked their butts off this summer and are excited and driven to make our goals come true. I’m excited to see how our season turns out.”

Edinburgh Lancers

Coach: Ashley Myers

Last year: Fourth in Johnson County meet

Who’s back: Allie Schooler, Emily Davis and Blythe Carman

Who’s gone: Lilia Perez

New kids on the block: Lili Irvin, Bailey Woodall, Abby Schooler, Destiney Ramey, Brooke Link, Ciera Myers, Jillian Turner, Cholee Brittain and Amber Belser

Outlook: There are a lot of new runners who are coming out this year, but Myers says they are already showing dedication and determination to get better. This is Myers’ first year as Edinburgh’s coach.

Myers says: “For many, the season will be a learning experience, and for all it will be a sport full of persevering, believing, and achieving. We are small, but that doesn’t make us have any less determination than the biggest team we will face.”

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: Ray Lane

Last year: Second in Johnson County and Mid-State Conference meets, third in sectional

Who’s back: Carly Sandrock, senior; Emma Treibic, junior; Alexandra Boardman, Kendyl Harrison, Chloe Selking and Abby Burton, sophomores

Who’s gone: Zosia Piotrowski, Sydney Fears and Bianca Tisdale

New kids on the block: Maggie Auger, Piper Reed, and Megan Tennell, freshmen

Outlook: The Grizzly Cubs return five girls that shared seven spots at some point last season. Lane said the three departed seniors left big shoes to fill, but the three freshmen — Auger, Reed and Tennell — have the potential to fight for varsity spots. “We’ve had a good summer of training, and I feel like we have a majority of our roster that is capable of competing for top seven spots when we get to the state tournament,” Lane said.

Lane says: “With how competitive all the teams in the area are, we’ve just got to focus on improving as much as we can throughout the season, and hopefully, we’ll be in good position when it counts.”

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Blaine Williams

Last year: Did not post a team score in the Johnson County meet or sectional

Who’s back: Hannah Henderson and Tatiana Andrade, sophomores.

Who’s gone: Jessica Isley

New kids on the block: Janae Johnson and Lauren Spencer, sophomores; Julia Arruda, Alexa Ashmore, Mallory Watson, and Riley Weber, freshmen

Outlook: Williams is thrilled the Woodmen will have a full team this season, even though a couple of girls who ran last year decided to play soccer this fall. “Even though we will be very young, these girls have put in a lot of hard work this summer to achieve their goals,” Williams said.

Williams says: “I think our young talent will lead the way for us this year, and I think they’ll do well adapting to the longer high school distance. We have no juniors or seniors on the team, so this group has the potential to be really special in the next couple of years.”

Greenwood Christian Cougars

Coach: Joseph Slater

Last year: Didn’t have enough runners to score

Who’s back: Allie Dalton, senior; Anna Simons, junior

Who’s gone: Lauren Dalton

New kids on the block: Anna Subris and Anna Dalton

Outlook: The Cougars will have eight girls, four more than last season. Allie Dalton, a state qualifier, won sectional and regional titles last season. Simons is a 400-meter runner in the spring who has always run cross country to stay in shape.

Slater says: “We’ve converted a couple of other track runners to being cross-country runners as well. If Anna Subris stays healthy, she will run well for us. We have depth that we’ve not had. If we develop, we should have an outside chance to win the conference, which is always a starting goal.”

Indian Creek Braves

Coach: Steve Fleenor

Last year: Did not post a team score in Johnson County or sectional meet

Who’s back: Izzy Dawson, senior; Marissa Smith, sophomore

Who’s gone: Rowan Hayden

New kids on the block: Micaela Lovins, senior; Shaelyn Biddle, sophomore; Sierra Bowman, freshman

Outlook: Depending on the meet, Fleenor said the Braves had between two to four runners last fall due to some injuries. Dawson was the team’s top runner last year, finishing 17th in the county meet. “Izzy had a PR in the mile during track season, so any time you are improving there, that’s good,” Fleenor said, adding that Smith has also made offseason strides. The Braves have more depth with five to seven girls and Fleenor expects to have a full team at each meet.

Fleenor says: “We’ll have a score at every meet, so that’s making progress from last year.”

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Michele McNeill

Last year: Fourth in Mid-State Conference, third in Johnson County, third in sectional

Who’s back: Kaley Brewer, senior; Abby Buckler, junior; Delsi Fraser, Shelby Kress, Kelsey Ross and McKenzie Waidlich, sophomores

Who’s gone: McKenna Gold, Katie Ross and Alexis Howell

New kids on the block: Katie Dennis, junior; Nicole Leighton, sophomore; Heidi Brewer, Ashley Buckler, Alex Halle, Shelby Keller, Taylor Leytham, Catawna Silvers and Erika Walling, freshmen

Outlook: The Warriors are optimistic about the season. Brewer returns as the No. 1 runner, with strong support from Buckler and Dennis. Brewer was fourth in the Johnson County meet. McNeill said the goal is to advance out of regionals as a team. “The ladies have been working hard over the summer in the weight room and on the course,” McNeill said. “We look forward to seeing their hard work and dedication to their sport pay off.”

McNeill says: If we can compete as a team, we have a good chance of advancing. I’m excited to see what this group of young ladies can accomplish this season.”

Boys cross country preview capsules

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Howard Harrell

Last year: Sixth in Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference; third in Johnson County, sectional and regional.

Who’s back: Nolan Miller, senior; Adam Russell, Christopher Jones and Steven Mills, junior; J.T. Hodges, sophomore

Who’s gone: Riley Turk, Nathan Fill.

New kids on the block: Sebastian Martin, sophomore; Luke Schmitt, freshman

Outlook: Hodges captured the sectional title as a freshman last season, and there’s a deep roster behind him. Harrell, in his 16th season with the Trojans, said his squad will have to outwork other teams in order to reach their big goals at the end of the season. Martin, a swimmer, switched from football to cross-country this season.

Harrell says: “We have a nice collection of runners. J.T. Hodges will pace our team up front. This year, we’ll be very deep from fifth to 10th position. I expect we’ll have an ever-changing top seven athletes run in the varsity race as the season goes.”

Edinburgh Lancers

Coach: Ashley Myers

Last year: Did not score as a team in Johnson County meet

Who’s back: None

Who’s gone: Addison Lollar, Austin Burton

New kid on the block: Isaiah Estes, freshman

Outlook: Barring late additions, Estes will be a one-man show. Two runners from last season’s team (Lollar and Burton) will play football.

Myers says: “Isaiah Estes will be joining us on the varsity squad this year coming from middle school. From open runs this summer he has already shown improvement and will be doing some great things for us this season.”

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: Adam Schwartz

Last year: Won Mid-State conference meet, Johnson County, sectional and regional titles; placed 10th in semistate

Who’s back: Josh Campbell, Chandler McGaha, Andrew Bixler and Caleb McCort

Who’s gone: Luke Tucker, Peter Hostetter

New kids on the block: Drew Hargis and William Tucker

Outlook: Campbell and McGaha qualified for the state track meet in the spring. Schwartz said those two, along with Bixler and McCort, should help the team early. Schwartz said Bixler and McCort did a great job training over the summer. The addition of Isaiah Lindsey, when he returns from a broken arm in the next few weeks, should also help solidify the lineup. Newcomers Hargis and Tucker have shown a lot of potential.

Schwartz says: “Heading into this year we are short on some of our depth we relied on last year. This year, we have six seniors who on any given day could run varsity for us. I’m sure they will keep me on my toes as a coach when I try to set the best lineups possible for early in the season.”

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Blaine Williams

Last year: Second in Johnson County, Mid-State Conference, sectional and regional meets; placed 11th in semistate

Who’s back: Lucas Oskins, senior; Ethan Pine, Conner Terhune, and Ian Rimer, juniors

Who’s gone: Hunter Smith, Zeke Neihart, Garrett Henderson, Seth Irons and Micah Graber

New kids on the block: Justin Johnson, junior; Keith Alford, freshman

Outlook: Williams said he hopes junior Brandon Albin and sophomores Joshua Alfrey, Shane Paswater and Hunter Walden can move into the varsity lineup. Smith, a state qualifier in 2015, is gone, but the Woodmen had a strong summer, and the upperclassmen are committed to building on last year’s success.

Williams says: “This is a fun group of boys. Everyone gets along well, and they have really jelled this summer into a strong team. I am excited to see what they can do on the course, and I really hope to get back to the state meet with at least one of them.”

Greenwood Christian Cougars

Coach: Joseph Slater

Last year: Third in Pioneer Conference meet

Who’s back: Grant Slater, senior; Mitchell Bowling, junior; Zane Stout, sophomore

Who’s gone: Hunter Slater, Jared Davenport, Joel Stinnett

New kids on the block: None

Outlook: The Cougars head into the season with five runners. Grant Slater, the coach’s son, will be the No. 1 runner after running last year behind his brother, Hunter, who is now competing for the University of Tampa.

Slater says: “We have to replace some talent and work to develop it. We have to build the program from the ground up.”

Indian Creek Braves

Coach: Steve Fleenor

Last year: Fifth in Johnson County meet; second in Mid-Hoosier Conference meet

Who’s back: Sean Bowman, senior; Nate Decker, Zach Pugh and Jace Russell, sophomores

Who’s gone: Tucker Dawson, Dalton Spruill

New kids on the block: Hunter Ellis, Mitchell Ellis, Aiden Marlow

Outlook: The Braves are in their first year in the Western Indiana Conference. Top runner Dawson was 13th in the county meet in 2015. Fleenor isn’t sure this squad is as deep as last year, saying that “it depends on how much these guys improve and if we find a No. 5 (runner).”

Fleenor says: “Bowman and Decker ran quite a bit over the summer. They could be all right, because they had a pretty good track season and made progress there.”

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Gerry Emerson

Last year: Fourth in Johnson County and Mid-State Conference; sixth in sectional; six individuals advanced to regional and one to semistate

Who’s back: Jacob Fendley, senior; David Ryan, junior; Garrett Seawright, Mika Long and Riley McMahon, sophomores

Who’s gone: Jared Williams, Jared Canary

New kids on the block: Conner McMillan, senior; Bailey McMahon, junior

Outlook: McMahon, who ran at Greenwood the last two seasons, appears to the No. 1 runner in the preseason. Emerson said the team’s goals are to finish in the top three in the county and conference meets and top five in the sectional.

Emerson says: “With a couple of new additions to the team, and having the majority of our top seven runners back from last season, we believe we will be a stronger team this season. The team has been working very hard this summer, and we are hoping to move up in all of our meets.”