DALLAS -- Dallas' hopes for the 2005 cross country season received a serious jolt when 2004 state qualifier Vita Picchi-Dobson elected to spend her senior year as a foreign exchange student in Africa.
"She just wanted a change, something different," Dragons cross country coach Monique Lankheet said. "She's an adventurer. She said she's going to keep running. She's going to try to run in college. She definitely will be missed."
With Picchi-Dobson visiting another continent, the team's top returning runner will be Chelsea Wiens.
"Chelsea has trained hard all summer and is looking really, really good," Lankheet said. "We just ran a preseason 5K at Bush Park and she was just under 21 (minutes). That's awesome for her. With a couple months of intensive training, she has great potential to go to state. In my opinion, she has earned it."
Nate Anderson looks to be the top runner for the boys squad, but it appears Wiens is the only contender for state.
"Our boys team is really young," Lankheet said. "We had a lot of kids graduate last year. We're kind of in flux. It's hard to know what to expect. They could improve a lot, but young kids tend to get hurt, too. They're very eager, and they're willing to work hard. We'll see what happens."
Dallas opens the cross country season Thursday, Sept. 8 in the Tillamook Invitational at Camp McGruder in Rockway. Lankheet said the team is looking forward to its overnight stay on the coast for the Sept. 24 Seaside Three Course Challenge.
"It's always a fun event," Lankheet said. "The kids have a big past feed the night before, and they have a big dance for all the participants. It's not really about PR-ing (setting a personal record). it's just about having fun."