(last year’s record in parentheses)
Absegami (2-6): Absegami looks to returning varsity runners Katie Juniewicz, Hannah Kuharik, Tiffant Parra and Katie Flournoy for leadership and experience this year. Juniewicz is the Braves’ No. 1 runner.
Atlantic City (4-5): New head coach Colleen O’Donnell will take over for her father, Tim, this season. The Vikings have a strong six running together and are working well as a pack. However the team is looking for their No. 7. Top newcomer Molly Kinghorn comes from Arizona and is currently the team’s No. 2. Atlantic City looks to be a contender in the CAL and at counties.
Bridgeton (6-4): Bridgeton moves into the American Conference this season. Third-year coach Nick Brown expects the competition to be a lot tougher and will take some getting used to. The team lacks in experience and has a lot of first-time runners.
Egg Harbor Township (6-2): The Eagles lost just two of their top five from last season, Chelsea Conover and Devon Miller. Press All-Star Abigail Shafer will lead the Eagles. Senior Megan Devlin, the team’s No. 2, will return after her season was cut short last year due to a foot injury. Sophomore Morgan Shick and senior Eryn Reed are also expected to contribute. Newcomer Ashley Gerald, a senior, runs track and comes from the soccer team. The team is motivated to carry the success from last season and from the spring over into this year. Boys head coach Mike Caiazza takes over while coach Erika Switzer is on maternity leave until November.
Hammonton (3-3): Hammonton returns with a very young team. The Blue Devils lost Press All-Star and standout Christin Bettis, but have a strong top five led by juniors Valerie Pagano and Tabby MacKenzie.
Lower Cape May Regional (3-8): The Caper Tigers will try to rebound in 2012. Returning starter Alyse Johnstone was a CAL honorable mention in 2011.
Mainland Regional (6-3): The Mustangs are somewhat rebuilding this year with a smaller team. Corrine Mooney, Emma Bean, Jen Casale and Shannon Meglathery return from last season, but the Mustangs have just one freshman.
Millville (7-1): The Thunderbolts do not have as much depth as they have had in the past, but still plan on being contenders in the conference. They return a solid top four in junior twin sisters Victoria and Valerie Thaler, junior Kaitlyn Dermen and senior Meaghan Williams. Coach Bob Porch is still looking for a closer pack and a solid No. 5. Junior Elizabeth Sooy returns after a successful freshman year, but missed last season due to a stress fracture. Senior Tai Wiggins comes from track and freshman Mackenzie Springsteadah joins the team this year.
Ocean City (9-0): After finishing undefeated for the first time in five years, defending conference champion Ocean City hopes to continue its success from last season. MaryKate Brelsford will lead the Red Raiders along with returning seniors Tess Solazzo, Kirsten Kershbaumer and Natalie Landi. Junior Bridget Flynn transfers to Ocean City from Holy Spirit. Flynn was a major contributor for the Spartans and is expected to do the same for Ocean City.
Oakcrest (1-8): Coach Jaclyn Tantum returns for her second year. The Falcons lost just one runner, Sally Hu, to graduation and will return nine, including Taylor Phy, Jessica Hutter and Nicole Littlefield, the team’s top three. They also welcome six newcomers.
Vineland (0-8): The team is returning 10 letter winners from last year, including senior Salena Muzzarelli and juniors Anna Karen Mejia, Dani Fanfarillo, Amanda Grissman and Alexia Clark. Seniors Renee Androckitis and Alley Guzman will return from missing last season due to injuries. Guzman is expected to be a part of the Fighting Clan’s top three. Adding to the team’s depth is 24 incoming freshmen.
Buena Regional (11-0): The defending conference champions return three of their top five in twin sisters Gina and Lisa Testa and Janeesa Boinbi. The team added seven new freshman to provide some depth. Freshmen Kristin Siegle and Geena Difor are already standing out to new head coach Mike Falciani. Falciani comes to Buena from St. Joe.
Cape May Tech (6-5): Cape May Tech’s team is young, but has depth and is very capable. Coach Gerald Chretien said the team is running more as a pack this year. Sophomores Hannah Dietrich and Monica Powers are the Hawks’ top two.
Cedar Creek (2-8): The Pirates are in their third year of existence and have seniors with leadership and experience for the first time. Top runner and Press All-Star Michelina Hesse returns for her senior year. Almost all of last year’s team returns. Coach Steve Ferguson expects continued growth and success for the upcoming season.
Holy Spirit (9-2): The Spartans are much smaller in numbers than they have been in the past. They lost their No. 1 runner, Bridget Flynn, to Ocean City. Senior Emily Giegerich is one of the few returning to the team.
Middle Township (8-3): A good core of varsity runners from last year will be back this season. However, there isn’t much depth after the top seven runners. Senior Alex Walsh, a Press All-Star, returns.
Pleasantville (0-10): The Greyhounds will be led by seniors April Prevard and Joy Martinez. Prevard is a returning starter and Martinez is running her first year of cross country.
St. Joseph (7-2): Track and field coach Barry Jackson takes over the cross country team. The team is very small, with just two varsity returners, sophomores Alexis Hoerter and Dana Donahue and some prospects. A goal is to have a full team by the end of the season.
Wildwood Catholic (10-1): The team is very talented and capable of contending this season, but has just five members. Emily Johnson and Grace Lederer both return as the top two for the Crusaders.
Barnegat (3-2): Will be going through a rebuilding process under first-year head coach Emily Cherry. Senior Samantha Morris will be counted on as a leader and should be competitive with the top runners in the conference. Sophomore Allison Larkin is also a returning starter, and freshman Erin O’Connor joins the team.
Southern Regional (5-1): Southern is expected to continue its tradition of success as it returns a veteran team. Seniors Jillian Smith, Courtney Muraczewski and Danielle Smolyn are key returnees. Depth never seems to be a problem for the Rams as seven newcomers join the team, including track and field standout Carly Burnup.