Dee Brown has built the Iowa Central cross country program into a perennial national title contender in junior college.
This year should be no exception, as the Tritons are currently ranked No. 1 on both the men's and women's polls.
Fresh off a third NJCAA national crown, the women return eight regulars, including four-time track champion Ebeissa Nyandwi. Fiona McKenna and Jodi Miller each earned All-American status a year ago.
"We are looking very strong on the women's side," Brown said. "Even tougher than last year."
Brown saw Nyandwi make huge strides during the track season. She was the No. 4 runner last year, but "made leaps and bounds" in terms of improvement to pace the squad so far.
Jamie Neal, Cecilia Kumalalamene, Laura Condron and Eveline Niyokwizigigwa have also "improved significantly" from their freshman to sophomore campaigns.
2012 IOWA CENTRAL CROSS COUNTRY
Sophomores - Zach Bellingtier, Jamal Boma, Alex Deir, Austin Elm, Michael Fish, Stanley Kebenei, Saromo Mugisha, Brenice Ndayizeye, Anthony Plourde, Abbabiya Simbassa, Kevin White.
Freshmen - Kyle Blake, Colton Blay, Andrew Bolland, Matt Bunnell, Andrew Costello, Tor Gach, Laurent Hakizimana, Christian Magee, Ben Ostendorf, LaRon Rogers, Levin Storjohann, Derek Turner.
Sophomores - Laura Condron, Chantal Duncan, Peria Gutierrez, Cecilia Kumalalamene, Fiona McKenna, Jodi Miller, Jamie Neal, Eveline Niyokwizigigwa, Ebessia Nyandwi.
Freshmen - Steph Herrington, Tara Jackson, Cidni Latimer, Andrea Saavedra.
Sept. 15 - at Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. (women only); 29 - at Cowboy Jamoree in Stillwater, Oklah.
Oct. 13 - at Neubauer/Drews Invitational in LaCrosse, Wis.; 26 - at Region XI Championship in Marshaltown.
The Tritons captured the Dutch Invitational title earlier this year behind McKenna's individual crown. Miller, Nyandwi and Neal placed second, third and fourth.
Freshmen Tara Jackson of Fort Dodge and Steph Herrington from Eagle Grove have provided depth through the first month and great deals of progress, according to Brown.
Iowa Central's men are led by NJCAA Male Athlete of the Year Stanley Kebenei. Fellow sophomores Jamal Boma and Abbabiya Simbassa are also back.
"Our strength for the men is our sophomore class," Brown said. "Their experience will help a great deal in our bigger meets."
Anthony Plourde, Michael Fish, Saromo Mugisha and Brenice Ndayizeye have also helped with the adjustment from running in high school - which is just over three miles per meet - to the college level - which checks in at five miles.
"Right now, our focus is on getting our men healthier and stronger for our mid-season meets," Brown said. "It's a big adjustment (in going from high school to college)."
The Tritons also received a Div. I transfer, as Alex Deir joined the program after competing for the University of North Carolina. Other newcomers include Andrew Costello, Levi Storjohann, Colton Blay and Laurent Hakizimana.
Iowa Central will host the NJCAA National Championship races in 2013 at Lakeside Golf Course. This year, nationals are set for Levelland, Tex. on Nov. 17.