The members of the New Canaan boys cross country team have their legs under them just in time for the 2011 season.

And although they were hit hard by graduation, the returning Rams believe that they have a team that's ready to compete in 2012. One of the team's captains, Tucker Radecki has been especially encouraged by the amount of work that he and his teammates have put in over the summer.

"A bunch of our guys put in 300 or more miles over the summer. About a half dozen guys got that in, which is what we were hoping for," Radecki said. "A bunch of guys are looking really good, especially some underclassmen, which is great to see. I think it's going to be a good season."

While starting lineups are always at least somewhat subject to change, coach Evan Remley indicated that his eight-man starting varsity lineup for the Rams' first meet will include Kevin McEneaney, Kalan Lysenko, Radecki, Phil Arliss, Calvin Gaynor and Mike Shulte with the last two spots to be determined.

"The guys that are now the seniors and the leaders are ready to step up, but it's going to be a little bit of a transition filling that void," Remley said. "In the last two years, we've graduated a core of some of the best distance runners we've ever had at the high school."

Most notably, the Rams lost their entire 4x800 national championship relay team that included Alex Spinu, Pat Daly, Henson Orser and Taylor Parsons.

However, open competition for varsity spots certainly isn't the worst scenario in the world for the 10th-year coach.

"It's good. The only problem is that you don't want too much separation between your first guy and your fifth guy," Remley said. "We'll have to see for the first couple races how that all pans out."

"The competition definitely lifts everyone to push themselves harder," said sophomore Aidan Tuttle, one of several New Canaan runners vying for a varsity spot. "I think the fact that there are so many runners that could potentially be in the top-eight shows how good the team will be this year. I'd like to run at least one race with the varsity. One meet at a time."

New Canaan kicks off its season in familiar settings, home at Waveny Park against Danbury, Westhill, Brien McMahon and Ludlowe, and the Rams know they'll be facing some stiff competition come 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

"A bunch of those teams had a bunch of guys leave, which is very similar to our team. I have a lot of faith in our team, and I think we can place well," Radecki said. "I'm looking forward to the Wilton Invitational. I always like running there, and I think our team likes running there. Generally speaking, it's a very competitive meet and it brings out a bunch of the best times for our guys."

jchik@bcnnew.com

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