Last season, the New Canaan girls cross country chopped more than a minute off its average time in the FCIAC championship, improving from 17:34 in 2011 to 16:10.

Fourth-year coach Art Brown is looking for that trend to continue. If it does, he sees no reason why the Rams can't better last year's ninth-place showing in the FCIAC meet.

"We don't have any superstars," he said. "But we have a good nucleus and I expect to get a lot better as the season goes on."

While the Rams graduated their top two runners in Lana Delvecchio and Olivia Hompe, who each broke 16 minutes in the FCIAC championship, they return four of their top seven from last year and boast a deep and experienced team.

"It's a big team," said senior co-captain Emily Wood, who is hoping to run in the Class L meet this season after missing out last year due to a twisted ankle. "We have (more than) 50 girls. We have increased team unity and hopefully we'll get some good times under our belt."

Headlining the returnees is senior Elizabeth Perry, another one of the Rams' four co-captains, who posted a personal best time of 16:16 in the FCIAC meet, which was good for 39th overall. Perry is hoping to lower her PR to the mid-15s this fall.

More Information

Fact box

The other top returnees are senior Isabel Hetherington and co-captain Jenna Sachs, who were 45th and 50th in the league championship. Wood was 73rd while competing at less than 100 percent.

Jane Reed, who was part of New Canaan's top seven last year as a freshman, is not running cross country to concentrate on the indoor track season.

"We're looking for PRs among all the girls," said Cassie Miller, the Rams' other captain. "Last year, I got 17:30 for my PR, so I'm hoping to break 17 (minutes)."

The Rams lack a true No. 1 and Brown was still trying to formulate his top seven as of the early part of the week.

"Our top seven is a very competitive group that is constantly changing just because we have around 15 girls who run competitive times," said Wood, whose PR is 16:30.

In addition to the captains, the other top seniors include Allie Bel Bruno, Elizabeth Gordon, Keaton McAuliffe and Alexandra Naughton. The top juniors are Lily Baer, Emma Crowley, Hannah Neeleman, Sarah Owen, Emma Rosenstein and Corinne Vietorisz.

"This is my second year running cross country and I'm so excited to be back here for the fall," said Sachs, who ran 16:32 in the FCIAC meet a year ago. "I really think our team is going to do well. We have some excellent freshmen. We're been practicing really hard all summer and I think it will really pay off."

The Rams were 11-7 in dual meets and 10th in the Class L meet, a mark they also would like to improve while Perry points to one more goal.

"Last season, we were first in the varsity small school race at the Wilton Invitational," she said. "I think we'd like to repeat that. We've had some good races there."

New Canaan opens its season Tuesday at Trumbull in a meet that also includes Trinity Catholic, Norwalk, Harding and Bridgeport Central.