The Mark Twain girls track and field team looks almost the exact same this season as when it claimed a district title last year.

The Mark Twain girls track and field team looks almost the exact same this season as when it claimed a district title last year.

The Lady Tigers return their full roster with the exception of standout Destini Linderman, who was an all-district sprinter and jumper.

While her absence leaves a hole that needs filled, Mark Twain maintains high expectations heading into the 2017 campaign, which kicks off Tuesday at Montgomery County.

“We have a strong team again this year,” Mark Twain coach Erin Mack said. “I look for us to be very competitive only losing one and having a full team of returners. There is the opportunity that we could be back-to-back district champions. That is their ultimate goal, and it's up to them to get up to that point.”

McKenzie Lathrom, who holds the school record in the triple jump and long jump, returns after placing top-12 in each event at the Class 2 state meet a year ago. Lathrom was also a key member of the 4-by-400 and 4-by-800 meter relays, the latter of which took 11th at state in 2016.

“I look for her to do well again this year,” Mack said of the junior. “She's coming back strong.”

Katie Neff, Maddy Ford and Kelsey Kendall — Lathrom's teammates on the 4-by-800 state relay last year — all return as well.

Neff won the district title in the 3,200 meters in 13:37.85 last season, while Ford placed third in the 1,600 meters with a time of 6:20.17.

Neff said her primary personal goal is to lower her 2-mile time to “13 or below.”

“I'm ready to start off senior year strong,” she said. “I'm ready for it. I'm excited.”

Hannah Spoonhower anchors a group of throwers hoping to make strides this season. The senior, who is battling a foot injury that may keep her out until the district meet, hopes to reach state for the first time in her final high school season.

She placed fifth in districts in both the shot put (33-05.00) and discus (97-04) last year.

“I plan on still working while I'm on crutches and hopefully come back and get some medals,” she said.

Mack said the future of the program appears bright — especially considering the rising talent coming up the pipeline.

“We have some young ones who are ready to step up to the plate,” she said. “We've got a slew of incoming freshmen that look really, really good on our sprinter side.”