The St. Joseph High boys cross country team looks to improve upon last season's fifth place finish in the Class M state championship race.

The Cadets are led by senior tri-captains Nick Maltese, James Mas and Nick Zannis.

Mas, last year's Class M individual state champion, will lead the team and look to advance to this year's New England Championships.

Zannis was consistently one of the Cadets' top runners last season and will provide the team with a solid 1-2 punch with Mas.

Maltese will be expected to provide the team with depth in both regular-season and post-season meets.

"I'm excited about our group of runners this season," said St. Joseph 16th year head coach David Scrivines.  "We have a lot of work to do to build up depth in our lineup but we are looking forward to the challenge."

That depth will start with sophomore Ryan Haack and junior Will Whitlock. Haack competed in the state championship meet last season, while Whitlock is running cross country for the first season. St. Joseph will also look to sophomore Brian Dineen and freshman Mike Zannis to provide key places this season.

"We have a gap where (last year's graduating seniors) Kyle O'Brien, Evan Aldo, and Will Gallagher provided us strong finishes in our top group last season. Our goal is to rebuild that depth this season and utilize the front of the pack as a benchmark for the rest of the runners to strive for," Scrivines said.

Senior Jacob Russell, junior Nicholas Russo, sophomore Michael Pleszko and freshman Dante Criscio and Manuel Garzon have had solid pre-seasons and could be in the mix to challenge for a top-seven spot on the varsity team.

Junior John Wypchoski and sophomores Mark Kendziorski and Anthony Crocco return for the Cadets, while junior first-year runner Jack Moulder has had a strong pre-season as well.

Juniors Joe Griffin and Stephen Garber, sophomores Daniel Marchetti and Kevin Frattaroli, and freshman Luke Healy, Ben Kallsen, Sean Yankocy, Igor Poliwoda and Garrett Kalker are all participating on the team this season.

St. Joseph opens the season with a four-team meet at Fairfield Ludlowe that includes Darien and Bridgeport Central on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 4:30 p.m.

The Cadets will also host the 5th annual Alumni and Friends 5K race on Saturday Sept. 12, at 10:30 a.m.. Anyone interested can register at St. Joseph High School: 2015 SJ Cross Country Alumni & Friends 5K Race or contact Coach Scrivines at dscrivines@sjcadets.org for more information.