The Palmyra boys cross country team is coming off its first district title, while a pair of sophomores return for the Lady Panthers after reaching state.

The Palmyra boys cross country team advanced further last season than it ever had before.

The Panthers raced to the district title a year ago en route to finishing 12th overall in the team standings at the Class 2 state championships.

The district crown was the first in team history.

Four of Palmyra's top seven runners return for 2018, led by senior Brett Griesbaum. Aaron Stamper, Spencer Locke and Boyd Triplett are all expected to help lead the way. 

Palmyra was scheduled to open the season Saturday with a home invitational, but it was rained out.

“We set it as our goal to repeat and defend the district title,” Palmyra coach Nick Koetters said. “But we're not really looking at it right now at this point in the year.”

Griesbaum, Stamper and Locke all crossed the finish line within 10 seconds of each other at the Class 2 District 3 meet last year, when they each placed in the top 16.

Stamper led the squad at the state meet last November with a 69th-place finish of 18 minutes, 31 seconds. 

The returning experience bodes well for the Panthers.

“We should be pretty competitive,” Koetters said. “We've got a good top four, and we've just been trying to figure out who our fifth guy is going to be.” 

Triplett appears ready to cement his place in the varsity mix this season after splitting time at junior varsity last season. 

“Boyd (Triplett) has put in some good work and is running well so far," Koetters said. "If he keeps that up, he can be up there with everybody else.”

Seniors Jared DeHann and Zach Rosenkrans are also among a group of boys vying to contribute at the varsity level. 

Lydia Szarka and Lauren Reid both return as sophomores to lead the Lady Panthers after each competed at the state meet in their first year of high school.

Szarka placed 43rd in Class 2 in 21 minutes, 54 seconds for the best individual finish in team history, while Reid was 84th in 22:59. 

“So far, they've looked even better,” Koetters said of his young standouts. “They've both been putting in a lot of work over the summer.”

Bella Perkins is back as part of the Lady Panthers' six-member sophomore class after posting the team's third-best individual time at districts. 

Kinsey Tiemann is the lone senior girl. She is expected to contribute again on varsity.

“Kinsey is always in the mix for us,” Koetters said. “She's gotten better every year she's been out here, so that's what we expect this year too.”