by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
It would be easy to think that this is a make-or-break season for the Streetsboro girls cross country team.
When you know more than half your team isn't going to return in 2014, that is probably a safe assumption.
The Rockets have 20 girls on their roster, including 12 seniors.
"This is the biggest senior group I've ever had," Streetsboro 13th-year head coach Robb Kidd said. "We have several four-year runners and some first-year runners. That gives us an interesting dynamic."
Last year, Streetsboro finished sixth at a Division II district meet in Akron.
The Rockets also placed third in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division. This year, Streetsboro returns to the County Division. The Rockets spent the last two years in the Metro Division.
"It would be easy to think that moving down to the County would mean we have an easier schedule," Kidd said. "That is not the case. The County is loaded with talent. Woodridge always is the team to beat until someone proves otherwise.
"Garfield is very good and Southeast is good. I think our girls are excited about it. I think we can be in the mix."
Kidd's main priority is the postseason. The team's motto is "4, 16."
"The top four teams and top 16 individuals get out of districts," Kidd said. "We use that as bulletin-board material. It will be a major, major hill to climb, but our girls have embraced the challenge."
Streetsboro will pursue this challenge without several seniors. The Rockets' top senior contributors from last year were Paige Verma, Ciera Lanterman and Jen Basich.
As of press time, Streetsboro's top runner was senior Dana Bindus.
"Dana has been having a great summer," Kidd said.
"She's starting to understand what it's like to be a competitive runner. I'm expecting great things from her."
Senior Heather Cummings also expects to be one of the top five runners.
"Heather is one of my experienced seniors," Kidd said.
Senior Megan Melice has been battling hip and knee injuries. If everything is right, she will be one of the team's top performers.
"Megan could be anywhere from our No. 1 to No. 3," Kidd said.
Rounding out the top five are junior twins Madison Westerh and Meghan Westerh.
"Madison and Meghan are my most experienced girls coming back," Kidd said.
Others who expect to contribute are seniors Kaitlyn Nuber and Kailyn Williams and freshman Rachel Woods.
"Those three girls are first-year runners who have shown the most potential thus far," Kidd said.
Kidd likes what his team can offer. But several girls lack varsity experience.
"That's good and bad," Kidd said. "It's good because there are no bad habits, but it's bad because we have a lot of work to do.
"We have a lot of potential, but I'm not sure where it's going to take us. I'm trying to get my girls to take things. If they want something, they have to take it. That means taking an aggressive approach and running with confidence."
The Rockets are scheduled to run at the Dick Malloy 3K Aug. 21 at Goodyear Metro Park in Akron. The race is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. They are set to compete at the Billy Goat Challenge Aug. 24 at Woodland Park in McDonald. The race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.