Many of the runners on the New Canaan boys cross country team weren't satisfied with their performances last season, so they decided to do something about it over the summer.
Senior captain Ed Hughes epitomized that spirit, logging 304 miles after not running at all during the previous summer.
"It's a ton," Hughes said. "It took a big toll on your legs. On weekends, when you wanted to rest, you'd wake up early and have to run, and that was terrible."
Hughes said he put himself through the torture because he wanted to better represent the team. His grueling regimen paid off as he lowered his PR from 20 minutes to 17:20.
Fellow captain Sam Reynolds worked as a camp counselor, so he wasn't able to run 300 miles, but he still logged about 250 and feels a renewed sense of optimism about the team that perhaps was lacking in recent years.
"We've never had this big of a group work so hard over the summer in preparation for the season," Reynolds said. "This year, we had a group of eight to 10 guys who worked extremely hard over the summer and that group can make a huge difference for the entire team."
New Canaan was 9-9 in dual meets, then finished 10th in the FCIAC championship. First-year coach Bill Martin is looking for the Rams to climb to eighth or ninth this season in an always brutally competitive league.
"We still have a young team coming back, but we had a lot of talent on the team last year that either didn't show itself or didn't have the opportunity to show itself because we did have those three boys up top who ran very well for us," Martin said.
Lyman and fellow junior Alex Ellsworth were New Canaan's first two finishers in the L meet, placing 41st and 42nd, respectively, with a time of 18:12. New Canaan tied for ninth as a team.
Martin anticipates that Lyman and Ellsworth will battle for first and second among the Rams' top runners with Hoffman and McGough jockeying for third and fourth.
"The top two (Lyman and Ellsworth) have got me and Sam beat by at least two minutes," Hughes said.
Martin also has 15 freshmen on the roster, the most in recent memory for New Canaan, allowing him to run a freshman team, which should bode well for the future.
While Martin is officially taking over the Rams' cross country program after serving as an assistant under Evan Remley a year ago, he also coached track at New Canaan last spring.
"He had a chance to get to know us," Reynolds said. "The choice was up to us, but he really motivated us, made us want to get better."
New Canaan's first chance to see how much it has improved comes on Tuesday in the season-opening meet at Trumbull, which also includes Trinity Catholic, Norwalk, Harding and Bridgeport Central.