Coming off an eighth-place finish in Class 2, Mark Twain enters the upcoming season with several key returners but reliant on new faces.

Mark Twain senior speedsters Terry Monroe, Brandon Hamilton and Blake Curry have twice advanced to the state sectionals as part of a 4x200 meter relay team.

Now they're looking for a fourth piece to the puzzle to help them reach state this season — a spot that remains an unknown but has several prospects in contention.

“Our relay team, we're hoping to set a personal record this year,” Hamilton said. “We have been three of the original members since freshman year.”

Coming off an eighth-place overall finish at the Class 2 state meet last year, Mark Twain enters the upcoming season with several key returners but reliant on new faces to step up in order to continue the program's success.

The Tigers open their 2017 schedule with a meet at Montgomery County at 4:15 p.m. next Tuesday.

“A lot of it is just trying to get in shape and get ready for that first meet and then throughout the season keep getting better and better,” coach Karl Asbury said. “Don't put it all on the first one. Just strive to get better and better as we go. Districts are what counts because it's what decides whether you keep going on or not.”

Mark Twain finished third in Class 2 District 2 last season, finishing behind first-place area rival Monroe City and Cleveland NJROTC.

Senior Dalton Hill, a football standout who doubles as a thrower, was a big reason why the Tigers pulled off the top-3 district finish. Hill placed second in the shot put at 43-05.50 and sixth in the discuss at 111-02, while teammate Colten Barnes also finished top-10 in the same events.

Hill barely missed the cut for the state meet a year ago — something he uses as fuel to get better this time around.

“I'd like to improve my shot put by at least five feet throughout the season,” he said. “My goal is at least winning the district meet.”

Additionally, junior Devin Neff returns and hopes to improve upon his 10th-place state finish in the 3,200 meters, when he clocked in with a time of 10:36.82.

Senior Andrew Ogle, who will compete in several of the longer relays, said the squad has kept it light during preseason practice but will be ready to compete once the first meet comes.

“We joke around and whatnot but we also push each other and motivate each other to do the best we can,” he said.