The Carver High girls cross country team is gearing up for another league championship this fall. But it will be a tougher assignment for the Crusaders, who have captured the South Shore League Small Division crown the past two years.

CARVER – The Carver High girls cross country team is gearing up for another league championship this fall. But it will be a tougher assignment for the Crusaders, who have captured the South Shore League Small Division crown the past two years. With the decision by Mashpee to drop its cross country program, the Small School Division has been eliminated, which means the Crusaders must now compete against schools with far greater enrollment.

"We must compete against Norwell and East Bridgewater," Head Coach Stacy Waitner said. "We definitely have a shot. We were competitive against Norwell last season, and they lost their top runner, while we have everybody back. East Bridgewater will be really hard, probably the hardest meet of the season. They have a lot more depth than we do."

The Crusaders return their top five runners from last season’s 6-2 team, including four league all-stars. All seniors, they are virtually interchangeable as to who runs No. 1 and who is at No. 4.

"They are the dominant force that won us the last two titles," Waitner said. "They are such a powerful group, and we are so excited to see what they can do as seniors."

Katelyn Rudnik and Maddie Kenn will alternate at the No. 1 position, while Meaghan Nickerson and Chelsey Pierce will battle it out for the second spot. Pierce is currently battling a hip injury. Coming home in the fifth spot is likely to be senior Zoe Magnunson. Freshman Maya Magnunson could also slip into the top five.

On the boys side, the Crusaders remain in rebuilding mode following a 2-6 season. With only seven boys on the squad, depth is definitely an issue.

"We’ve had a lot of turnover, but we’re really hoping to have a much stronger season," Waitner said. "Our depth is lacking this year, but we’re looking to pick up, some eighth graders next year."

Junior Chris Showan leads the list of returning runners and could make some noise this fall. At No. 2 is junior Josh Kennedy, with sophomore Jared Millman running third. Matt Roberts, one of only two seniors on the squad, is at No. 4, with senior Nate Miller, running track for the first time, in the fifth spot.