Both squads made it to the NCHSAA regionals last season, and both squads have key members back from those teams.
The Raider men finished 16th at the regional meet last year; the Lady Raider women were 19th.
Both finishes were well short of the top-four showing needed to advance as a team to the state meet.
So, there is room for improvement for coach Reggie Miller’s runners in 2010.
Just three men’s runner’s and three women were lost from the 2009 team, Miller said.
“We’ve got a lot of experience back, and I feel like we’re ahead of last season,” Miller said.
Miller’s instinct was confirmed by both teams’ showing in Tuesday’s first meet of the year – a three-way Southeastern Conference affair at Hoke featuring Richmond, Hoke and Pinecrest.
The Raider men and women each finished second in the meet, and a number of times were well ahead of last year’s opening meet, Miller said.
On the men’s side, the Raiders went 1-2 in the race, with Eli Locklear winning (18:14) and teammate Randy Altman second (18:21).
Miller was a bit surprised. But the surprise was a pleasant one.
“I think it showed we’ll have quite a potent 1-2 punch,” Miller said.
Locklear, a senior, said work on hilly courses will help the Raiders take their efforts to the next level.
“That will help is with our speed and endurance,” Locklear said. “We need to keep working hard.”
For Raider senior women’s runner Shani Nicholson, making it to the state meet as a team is a key team goal.
“We can do it, if we work on pushing ourselves during the race and not slowing down,” Nicholson said.
The Raider men’s squad also includes Christian Smith, Javon Nicholson and Phillip Waddell Jr.
The Lady Raiders’ team also includes Belle Hillenburg, Katie Farries, Hannah Roberts, Keyshawn Jones, Jenna Sedberry and Marissa McRae.
For Miller, steady improvement each time out is the goal.
“We’ve got a good baseline here to start the season,” Miller said. “We need to keep working, and getting those times down each race. We want to be peaking at the end of the season. We’re committed to excellence.”
Richmond hosts a home meet at its Hinson Lake course on Tuesday.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 97-3111, ext. 14 or via email at email@example.com