The New Albany High School girls track and field team might have graduated a strong senior class last year, but coach Otis Winston figures his team shouldn't miss a beat.

The New Albany High School girls track and field team might have graduated a strong senior class last year, but coach Otis Winston figures his team shouldn't miss a beat.

"I really believe that this year's team is going to be extremely good," said Winston, in his fourth season. "We have a young team. We only have three seniors, but three seniors that I believe can help us defend the district title and be league champions."

The seniors are Taneisha Cordell, Mycah Mason and Rachel Reed. Cordell won the Division I state championship in the 800 meters as a sophomore at Reynoldsburg, but she fell during the final 150 meters of the race at state last season and didn't finish. She also is expected to compete in the long jump.

Mason, a versatile runner who can compete in the 200 through 800, was 12th at state in the 400 (58.18 seconds) last year. Cordell and Mason return to a 1,600 relay that was 12th at state (3:50.21).

The Eagles also have proven talent in the distance events. Sophomores Mirra Galbreath, Haley McLellan and Hannah Inman return to a 3,200 relay that was ninth (9:50.07) at regional last season. Galbreath also was 12th at regional in the 1,600 (5:30.73) and 13th in the 3,200 (12:26.78).

The regional performances helped the Eagles score 46 points and finish second behind Reynoldsburg (95). At state, New Albany scored six points to tie six others for 34th behind champion Reynoldsburg (56).

The main question at the beginning of the season is who will score points for the Eagles in the 100 and 100 hurdles. They are relying on a group of freshmen to bolster those events.

"Our team is going to be strong from the 200 and up," Winston said. "I believe we'll get some shockers in the 100. This is where as coaches we really have to put our heads together and try to get everyone in the right spots."

New Albany won a second consecutive district title last season, scoring 120 points to edge runner-up Dublin Scioto (118). The Eagles placed second (138) in the OCC-Capital Division meet, behind Watkins Memorial (145.5) and ahead of Mount Vernon (82.5), Olentangy Orange (82), Big Walnut (72), Franklin Heights (62), Hilliard Bradley (56) and Delaware (25).

•The boys team started to come on toward the end of last season, and third-year coach Chad Olinger hopes it carries over.

"I wish the season could have gone about a month longer last year," he said. "I think this year we have the potential to have five or six events that could go to state."

Aiding the Eagles' cause is a boost in numbers. There are about 75 athletes on the team this season.

The season for the boys and girls teams begins in a home meet against Orange on Tuesday, April 5.

"We're only going to need kids to run two or three events," Olinger said of the boys team. "It definitely makes it better all the way around. All of a sudden you can keep kids fresh and not having to worry about doing so many things."

Like last season, the Eagles expect to excel in mid- to long-distance events. The Eagles return all competitors from a 3,200 relay that won the OCC-Capital title (8:15.38) and eventually advanced to regional. That relay consisted of seniors Blake Taneff and Drew Windle and juniors Kraig Manion and Eric Macchi. Windle also was a regional qualifier in the 800 (10th, 2:00.23). Taneff is seeking a return to state in the 3,200 after making it as a sophomore.

Senior Clark Hillenbrand returns after finishing eighth at regional in discus (137 feet, 1 inch). New Albany scored nine points at regional to tie four others for 21st behind champion Gahanna (63). It was fourth at district (71) behind champion Brookhaven (89).

Senior Travon Bodrick returns to defend his OCC-Capital title in the long jump (20-7). The Eagles placed third (109) in the OCC-Capital meet last year, behind Watkins Memorial (184) and Big Walnut (137) and ahead of Orange (71), Bradley (52), Mount Vernon (41), Delaware (40) and Franklin Heights (24).

The Eagles have had to replace their lone state qualifier last year in Jordan Williams, who was 11th (49.61) in the 400. The Eagles did not score at state as Warren Harding (47) won the title.

The Eagles also return junior Adam Bodrick, who helped the 800 relay finish 11th (1:31.65) at regional.

being a regional qualifier in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters last season.