The Casa Grande High School cross country team has both quality and quantity.
Coach Carl Triola welcomed 60 runners this fall. "This is the most kids we've ever had out," he said. "We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores."
Among the returners is the entire varsity boys team, but the best of the bunch this year is a newcomer.
Freshman Matt Salazar, moving up to the prep ranks after a spectacular run in youth competition, is not only an outstanding runner, but already a team leader with is determination and dedication.
"He has a lot of talent," said Triola. "He has a drive I haven't seen in a long time. The way he attacks a workout inspires everyone. He pulls the other kids along. He has already had a tremendous impact."
The Gauchos also have several talented runners behind the freshman.
Juniors Harrison Weistock, Griffin Wiegert and Jack Jones are joined by Nicolas Rauch, Adam Harwood, Dakota Iribarne and Kevin Moffett to form a solid group.
An interesting newcomer is Andrew Langwell, who is running cross country for the first time as a senior. "Coming out for cross country as a senior is difficult, but Andrew has bee a surprise," Triola said. "He seems to be learning very quickly."
The coach and the team have high expectations, but Triola cautions that it is a new season and a new league.
"Moving to the NBL will be a different story," he said.