Tom Nees has been through this challenge once before, but it is a new experience for Jon Agriesti.

Tom Nees has been through this challenge once before, but it is a new experience for Jon Agriesti.

Both will be building track programs at first-year Hilliard Bradley High School after being coaches at Hilliard Darby last season. Nees, who is Bradley's girls coach, headed up the Darby program from its inception. Agriesti had not coached a first-year program until becoming the Jaguars' boys coach.

Both teams will open Saturday in the Newark Invitational.

"There are some things which I've changed from when I started at Darby, but it's still pretty similar," Nees said. "I think the thing that helps is that there is some consistency. Many of our athletes also came from Darby. Even if they don't have much experience, they are familiar with us as coaches, our ideas and our basic fundamentals."

The girls team has some experience as junior Mackenzie Gill was a member of Darby's 800-meter relay that placed 10th (1 minute, 43.77 seconds) at the Division I state meet last year. She also competed in the 1,600 relay at regional, as did sophomore Lauren McCabe.

McCabe also competed in the regional cross country meet last fall for Bradley, finishing 32nd (22:12.17) after placing fifth (20:50.81) at district. She will lead a distance group which also includes juniors Alisha Mackintosh, Maddie McDonald and Becca Nikolaus.

"They will be our distance core and will likely (lead) both our mid-distance and distance events," Nees said. "I think we have some good athletes in distance and in sprints, but we won't have the depth we had at Darby. We could take our lumps as a team, but we have some kids who can do well in certain events."

Leading the sprinters will be Gill, junior Emily Lebsock and freshman Kayla Malik. Junior Jordyn Ebert will compete in the hurdles.

In field events, sophomore Courtney Braun and junior Emily Boyd will compete in the throws, Mackintosh in the high jump, Gill and Lebsock in the long jump and sophomore Celena Tunila in the pole vault.

"We've looked good in practice and we've gotten some things accomplished, but we won't get a true feeling until we've competed," Nees said. "We'll continue to re-evaluate probably three to four weeks into the season until we have everyone in the right positions and the girls have a little experience competing."

•The boys team also anticipates being stronger on the track than in the field events.

Sophomore Sam Darling was on the 1,600 relay that finished 16th (3:26.74) at state last season for Darby, as well as on the 400 relay at regional. Also, sophomores Alex Ken and Blake Scipio were on Darby's 800 relay at regional.

Darling will be joined in the long sprints by junior Corey Straight, who competed for Gallipolis Gallia Academy last season.

Joining Ken in the sprints will be junior Jeffie Johnson and sophomore Terrell Sandford.

Junior Jerry Briggs and sophomore Jesse McGraw will compete in the hurdles.

"It's a pretty good group of kids, but as in all sports at Bradley this season, we will be relying heavily on the sophomore class," Agriesti said. "I'm very excited about our sprints group. They are young but very talented, which I think could be said about our whole team.

"The one advantage the girls team has over us is that they are competing in Division II, which was like most of our other sports. But with only three divisions in track and field, we were six boys over the limit of Division II and so we're starting our first season in Division I."

The distance events will be comprised of five members of Bradley's cross country team last fall in junior Ahmed Duahel and sophomores Austin Alpeter, Troy Kelleher, Jacob Markusic and Mike McDunn.

In cross country, Alpeter was ninth (17:33.72) at district and 38th (18:24.64) at regional, as the Jaguars competed at regional as a team. Kelleher (15th, 17:44.63) and Markusic (18th, 17:52.78) also were in the top 20 at district.

"That is a very talented group and they've already got varsity competition experience in cross country," Agriesti said. "We do have many kids who have varsity experience in other sports at Bradley, like Jeffie Johnson and Blake Scipio in football. Johnson may be the best athlete in our school and Jerry Briggs is right there, too. Then we've got a guy like Corey Straight who comes from a strong program at Gallia Academy.

"We're trying to get all these athletes in the right events and we're trying to mix a bunch of kids from all over the board _ with track experience, with no track experience, with varsity experience, without varsity experience. There is a learning curve here, for the coaches and the kids. We're throwing bodies in different events and seeing what materializes. That's why we'll be a lot better in May than we are early in the season."

The field events may be a work in progress, but Agriesti said he expects junior Tyrone Ford to compete in the throws and sophomore P.J. Minjangos to join Scipio in the high jump.