The goal is clear for senior Jeremy Reckner of the Central Crossing High School boys cross country team.

The goal is clear for senior Jeremy Reckner of the Central Crossing High School boys cross country team.

He and classmates Chris Aldea and Matt Shaffer feel as though the last three seasons have been part of a construction project of sorts, working toward a trip to the Division I state meet this year. If that happens, it would be a program-first.

"Our team has been building for a few years now," Reckner said. "This is the time we can show it."

Last year, Central Crossing finished second (72 points) in the OCC-Central Division meet behind Pickerington North (27) and was third (140) of 18 teams in the Division I, district 2 meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (45). The Comets finished 11th (270) of 16 teams behind champion North (96) at the regional.

Coach Mark Tremayne said nerves might have played a part in what the team felt was a sub-par day at the regional. Aldea was 53rd (17 minutes, 15 seconds), followed by graduate Corey Roberts (64th, 17:22), Reckner (66th, 17:23), graduate Zane Miller (70th, 17:25, Shaffer (81st, 17:32), graduate Lucas Murphy (86th, 17:38) and junior Chris Yanichko (117th, 18:12).

"They didn't have their best race," Tremayne said. "But they got a taste of it."

Tremayne believes it helps that Aldea and Shaffer were part of the 1,600-meter relay that advanced to the Division I state meet in track and field last spring.

"Those boys saw what it's like to run with the big boys," said Tremayne, whose team was fourth (129) behind champion Pickerington North (69) in the Panther Division of the Pickerington Classic last Saturday at North.

Sophomore Kelly Jones is expected to score on a consistent basis, with sophomore Andrew McCloud and junior Lance Gardner also in the mix.

"Our boys have lofty goals," Tremayne said. "But they are very hard-working and talented. I think (advancing to state) is realistic."

"Me, Chris and Matt have been working almost four years for state" Reckner said. "That would be the ultimate goal. It would be a dream come true."

•The girls team, however, may have a tough time continuing its six-year streak of regional qualification. The Comets lost eight graduates, including four who were among the top seven at the regional. Three are running in college.

Last year, Central Crossing was fourth (92) in the OCC-Central behind champion Thomas Worthington (28), sixth (159) in the Division I, district 1 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (38) and last (406) in the 16-team regional behind champion Mason (111).

"With the lack of experience we have it's going to be a challenge," Tremayne said."We're still trying to find leaders on our team."

The three regional participants who are back are juniors Hannah Weber (98th at regional, 21:41), Lauren Worthington (113th, 22:21) and Rebecca Miller (120th, 22:51).

Tremayne believes senior Jenny Galvin can be among the top three, with others in the mix for a varsity spot behind junior Christina Mills, sophomore Tia Smith and freshman Jessica Reckner.

"We'll be OK, but it will be tough," Tremayne said. "As our leadership develops and we get stronger, the better our chances are."

The Comets finished fourth (144) in of 14 teams behind champion Sandy Valley (96) last Saturday in the Tiger Division of the Pickerington Classic.

At a glance

•Coach: Mark Tremayne, seventh season

•Next meet: Saturday at Lebanon Invitational

•Key runners: Boys -- Chris Aldea, Jeremy Reckner and Matt Shaffer; Girls -- Jenny Galvin, Becky Miller and Lauren Worthington