LINDSBORG — Another year, another top-three finish for the Smoky Valley High School boys cross country team. 

The Vikings brought home state hardware last season by finishing third at the 3A State Cross Country Meet. Smoky Valley finished one point ahead of fourth-place Halstead and was five points behind runner-up Hugoton. 

Southeast of Saline won state with relative ease. 

While the loss of Josh Peterson will leave a hole to fill, the Vikings are in good hands with junior Ryan Heline back. Heline took seventh place at state last season with a time of 16:56.4.

The Vikings will also count on state-qualifier Stephen Peterson, who finished 48th at state as a sophomore last season. 

Smoky Valley also returns a sophomore trio of Lukas Apel and Garret Huffman and Trayton Miller, who qualified for state as freshmen last season.

“The boys team ended on a good note last season,” 13th-year head coach Holly Toll said. “We hope to be in those same shoes or better at the end of this season.”

The girls will be led by junior Ellise Peterson, who missed out on a state medal by seven-tenths of a second last season; Peterson finished in 21st place with a time of 21.02.7.

Although Peterson is the only state qualifier from last season returning on the girls team, look for Kajsa Peterson, Gracie Lambert, Lydia Peterson, and Savannah Phillips to round out the varsity lineup. 

“The girls have a great shot at placing higher at many meets,” Toll said. “We have a solid group of runners who are motivated to do great things.”

The Vikings open their season on Sept. 5 at the Lindsborg Golf Course.