Zoe Miller made her presence known as a freshman last year and is now the seniormost member of the Mark Twain cross country program.

Zoe Miller made her presence known as a freshman last year.

The Mark Twain runner finished in the top 15 at the Eastern Missouri Conference championships and 22nd at the Class 2 District 3 meet. 

“With how well Zoe performed, you would have thought she were a junior,” said Mark Twain coach Erin Mack. “She missed going to state by five places, so she's got goals and expectations this season if she can stay healthy.”

Miller is the only returner for Mark Twain in a program that features four freshmen and a total of five runners this year. Elizabeth Northcutt and Hannah Mallory join Miller for the girls, while the boys team comprises Will Owen and Jackson Jung. 

Mark Twain is scheduled to compete in its third meet of 2018 on Tuesday at the Running Raider Invitational in Quincy. 

“We're young and small in number,” Mack said. “We've graduated eight kids in the past two years and they were part of a core group that we started the program with four years ago.

"Hopefully we can continue to build.” 

Northcutt impressed at the Van-Far Invitational last Tuesday with a fourth-place finish, one spot behind Miller.

Northcutt and the other freshmen benefit from the experience of running in middle school.

“There is nobody new to the sport, just new to the high school program,” Mack said. “And our junior high team has seven kids and five of them are eighth graders.”

This fall, the focus will be on individual improvement for the Mark Twain runners.

“We'll see how they continue to grow over the course of the season,” Mack said of Miller and the high school newcomers. “They've been working hard, they've logged a lot of miles and they're a very determined young group.”