CHATHAM, NJ - Since her freshman year, Abbie Bigham always had someone to look up to as the leader, the one setting the pace for the Chatham girls cross-country team.
Now that she's a senior, Bigham has noticed that she's no longer chasing someone.
"It's different because for the first time we're the oldest ones," Bigham said. "I've always had someone like Laura (Walsh) and last year Alex Frenzel. I always had someone to look to or work towards, but now we're at the top."
Tri-captains Bigham, Julie Hamilton and Keren Hynes will be the ones setting the pace for Chatham, which will count on a large senior class in the 2016 cross-country season.
A year ago, Chatham finished sixth at the state sectional meet, just two points out of fifth place. The goal this year is to be one of the top five teams at the state sectionals, earning a spot in the Group 3 meet.
Chatham will be led by first-year coach Stephanie Frost, who is taking over while Julie Guerriero is on maternity leave. Frost was a middle-distance runner during her running days at Randolph High.
Other seniors looking to form the pack for Chatham are Yulan Zhang, Brigid Horan and Catherine McNiff. Horan, who ran track last spring, is making the switch after three years as a field hockey player. McNiff is out for the first time after making the transition from soccer.
Rising sophomores Leila Kirton and Leigh McCaffrey figure to challenge for top-seven positions.
"A lot of girls are showing improvement from last year, so we should be in good shape," Frost said.
Chatham girls cross-country team heads up an incline as part of their training for the season