As evidenced by Maryville's undefeated state championship season in football, former head coach Chris Holt left behind a pretty stacked roster upon exiting for Oak Park last year.
The same holds true of the boys and girls track teams which he coached in the spring.
Maryville's boys return three of their four state medalists, led by state champion shot putter Caleb Mather, from a team that took ninth at state last year and won its fourth consecutive MEC title. The girls have their entire state-medal winning 4 x 400M girls relay team back along with two additional state qualifiers.
With that level of firepower and a healthy amount of depth, both squads could challenge for team titles all season and a top 10 finish at the state meet.
"I think we really have a good group of seniors on the boys and girls side," said Maryville first-year head coach Lori Klaus. "We have a lot of good younger kids, too, that made it to districts last year and didn't make it out that we expect to make it to sectionals and state this year."
A Northwest Missouri State football and track signee, Mather is out to defend his state title in the shot put after becoming Maryville's boys state champion since 2000.
He won the event last year by over three feet, throwing close to his season-best at 55-9.
Mather also qualified for state in the discus and missed out on a medal by one spot.
Fellow senior state medalists Peyton Mizera and Derek Stiens aim to finish their careers as state champions as well.
Mizera, a two-time state qualifier in the triple jump, medaled for the first time last year with a fourth place finish. Stiens earned his second state medal in the pole vault with a career-best fifth place finish.
"Caleb was the state champion last year and wants to do that again," said Klaus. "The other two, both of their goals are to be state champions. They want to be the best they can be. They've been training hard already with that goal in mind."
Maryville's boys are deepest in the throwing events with Mather and sophomore Brendan Weybrew returning. Weybrew takes the place of graduated state qualifier Brent Martin.
The Hounds are also very well equipped in the jumping/hurdle events with both Mizera and senior Treyton Burch back in the fold.
Burch was a sectional qualifier in the long jump and only a fall at districts preventing him from making it there in the 300M hurdles.
He was also the MEC champion in both the 100M and 300M hurdles.
The Hounds graduated state medal winning 300M hurdler Chris Holtman who placed seventh at state, 400M dash MEC champion/sectional qualifier Ryan Vandivert and 200M dash MEC champion Shawn Scheffe.
Page 2 of 3 - Sophomore Brody McMahon, a first-year track athlete, will take Scheffe's place in the 100M and 200M dash, while the Hounds have yet to identify a permanent 400M dash runner.
Maryville's two main distance runners are sophomores Zac Carmichael and Dominic Mattock, while junior Adam Thompson is in position to take over for Eric Martin in the high jump.
The Hounds are still in the process of sorting out their new relay teams, a task made more difficult by limited practice time. They graduated their entire 4 x 800M team that qualified for state and three-fourths of their sectional qualifying 4 x 400M relay team.
On the girls side, Maryville is powered by its state-medal winning 4 x 400M relay team of McKenzie Wallace, Mikaila Wallace, Jessa Stiens and Sydney Rogers.
They finished fifth at state last year, accounting for five of the team's six points.
McKenzie was also a state qualifier in the 300M hurdles and finished 10th. Mikaila is one of the MEC's top sprinters and finished one spot out of going to state in the 200M dash.
Rogers made it to sectionals in the 800M run and Stiens got there in the pole vault.
Like the boys, the Lady Hounds should score big in the throwing events with state qualifier Baylee Scarbrough and 2011 state qualifier Jessica Pfost both returning as seniors.
Scarbrough finished ninth in the shot put at state and was a sectional qualifier in the discus. Pfost also qualified for sectionals in the discus.
The Lady Hounds graduated their only other state placer from a year ago and their top point scorer at state from two years ago, Holly Wilmarth.
She placed eighth in the triple jump, a year after taking second, and made it to state in the 100M hurdles, an event she medaled in as a junior.
"We'll definitely miss Holly," said Klaus. "She was a great track athlete for us for four years. I think we have some really good leaders stepping up. McKenzie will do really well in the 300M hurdles."
Senior Cynthia Swalley and McKenzie Wallace will cover the hurdle events, and McKenzie serves as a potential replacement for Wilmarth and Jamie Hasenkamp in the triple jump.
Freshman Jennifer Gullion and McKenzie Wallace are the team's two designated long jumpers, and junior Lindsey Suchan is likely to be the team's new high jumper.
Maryville's long distance contingent, other than Rogers, includes mostly freshmen.
Both teams will have a presence in every event but one—the 4 x 800M relay—when they begin their seasons today at the Nebraska City Invitational.
The Hounds have another meet Friday in Chillicothe and host the Northwest Invitational next Tuesday at Bearcat Stadium.
Page 3 of 3 - Their toughest regular season meet is Apr. 23 at Platte County and that comes two days before the MEC Meet.
Districts are May 11 in Excelsior Springs. Sectionals are the following Saturday in Blue Springs.
And the Missouri Track and Field Championships are May 24-25 in Jefferson City.
"It's hard to tell what kids are capable of," said Klaus. "We could get a lot of events through to state. There's a lot of talent at districts and sectionals and a lot of pressure. You don't know how they'll handle it."