On your marks, get set … the Astoria cross-country program is ready to go.

The running Fishermen could be going places in 2019, as head coach Andrew Fick heads into the season with one of his most talented rosters ever.

Astoria lost very few athletes to graduation and a few others to transfers, but at the 5,000-meter distance, the Fishermen still return their top three (and nine of their top 11) girls, and three of their top six boys, with some special newcomers.

For the boys, Astoria's top finisher in the district meet was Anton Heinrich, who has transferred out of district.

Nikolai Boisvert (18th) returns as a junior, and Elias Harding-Coe (23rd) is back for his sophomore year.

The numbers usually increase once school starts.

“I would guess that I'll have more turn out since we're not in season yet,” Fick said a week before official practices began. “I've also had a couple runners transfer (Abby Groncki, Steven Blankenship, Anton Heinrich) which will affect our roster.

“Early on, we've had a solid group of student-athletes coming out for the preseason conditioning, with several them coming off of running camps this summer as well.”

The coach said, “for the boys, Jacob Matlock (Jr.) has been doing a lot of summer running and is coming off some big improvements in track, which is giving him a really solid base to start the season from. His hard work and leadership will help set a positive tone as we launch into the early season.”

Elsewhere, “I expect that Nikolai will be a contributor again. He and Jacob have been working well in early conditioning with some of our younger guys.”

Senior Dalton Somers, as well as Harding-Coe and Cole Hudnall (So.) “all had good seasons last year and know how to put in the work to keep improving.”

Then it gets exciting, Fick said.

“Freshmen John Clement, Jack Colquhoun and Tommy Laman will be exciting to work with this year,” he said. “They are looking strong coming in and have been working well with the older guys during our conditioning runs. Their ability to all run together as a unit is really what will make us a stronger team. It's pretty fun to have a group of guys who are competitive and can push each other.”

For the girls, “we're shaping up to be a strong team again this year, and I'm hopeful we'll continue to build on our successes,” Fick said. “Sophie Long (Jr., 800-meter champion in state track), Lindsay Riutta and Ally Pritchard are all returning and running well, which gives us a solid foundation.

“Having our fourth runner (Groncki) move is a loss for us, but Emma Roe (Jr.) and Annalyse Steele (Jr.) have been doing good work in preseason conditioning and are looking ready to help fill our top seven.

“I expect Ella Zilli (Fr.) will be a varsity contributor and will help push the pace with Sophie, Lindsay and Ally,” he said. “McKenna Long and Julie Hale are returning seniors, and they bring a strong work ethic and a lot of positivity to the team, which is critical for our team to work hard and have fun together.”

Freshman Brooke O'Connor “has also been working hard in preseason conditioning and I think has a lot of potential moving forward.”

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.

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