The Northville girls track and field program nearly reached the pinnacle in 2014.

They proved they could almost go the distance as they finished as MHSAA Division 1 state runners-up only to Oak Park.

The Mustangs appear poised to make another strong run despite some key graduation losses which included distance star Rachel Coleman (Michigan), who accounted for over a third of the team's 50 points in last year's state meet in Rockford.

"We are going to need some kids to step up and show they are ready for the spotlight," Northville coach Tim Dalton said. "For us, the first step of the process is our division and making sure are ready to compete in our dual meets, followed by the conference, regional, and state finals."

The Mustangs, defending KLAA Central, Kensington Conference and Division 1 regional champions, are not showing any signs of slowing down as they opened their season March 31 with a 94-43 division dual meet victory over Livonia Stevenson.

And once again Dalton's squad will be anchored by a strong distance crew which finished third last fall in the Division 1 state cross country meet.

Among the talented returnees include sophomore Cayla Eckenroth, who placed eighth in the 3,200-meter run (10:44.6); junior Lexa Barrott, a state qualifier who posted a 4:57.1 in the 1,600 at the regional; and junior Emma Herrmann, another state qualifier who clocked an 11:24.7 in the 3,200 at the regional.

The Mustangs will also be strong in the sprints led by junior sprinter Chloe Abbott, a regional champion who placed sixth in the 100 dash at the state meet (12.39).

Also returning is senior Gracie Goble, who was part of the third-place state meet 800 relay team (1:41.38) and has already posted an impressive leap of 17 feet, 2.5 inches in the long jump, along with junior Lindsay Walters, who was regional champion and a state qualifier in the 400 (58.68).

Novi reloading

Last season the Wildcats were runner-up to Northville in the KLAA Central Division, Kensington Conference and Division 1 regional meets.

Novi coach Marsha Reid, entering her 15th season, lost two key field event performers in state qualifiers Kerri McMahan, who was Division 1 runner-up in the high school, and Taylor Pavlika, who was regional champion in the shot put and discus and fourth-place state meet finisher in the discus.

Hurdler Abby Downs, another state qualifier, and sprinter Jenny Chang will also be missed

Senior sprinter Eryka Ely is the lone returnee off Novi's state qualifying 4 x 100 relay team, while senior Hannah Lonergan will lead the way in the distance events after going 2:21.7 in the 800 en route to a fourth-place finish at the regional.

"We've got four new coaches this year and we're young," said Reid, whose team opened with a 87-49 KLAA Central Division dual meet win March 31 over host South Lyon. "We'll have a little bit different coaching. We're filling some gaps in the throws side. Marissa Dunn and Emma Hammelhuff will fill in on the throws and in the pole vault. High jump is up for grabs. You're filling the gap for Kerri McMahan, who was pretty much a point-getter in anything she did. So it will be fun to see how we shake out."

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