With Panger in the lead, Cougars sophomores Riley Simmerman and Mary Keeton Lane figure to follow, as well as others, as Capital expects to contend both today and at the regional meet. "My girls team all around, we're very sound," Smith said. "I have two sophomores that are very strong that are right behind Peyton and I think that we have the best team in the region."
For GW, seniors Adrienne Arnold and Rowan Maher hope to derail Capital's plans, as the Patriots' top threats.
On the boys side, GW expects to compete for today's team championship, as well as at regional, though Capital and Ripley will provide plenty of competition.
"You see the times and stuff online, but when you see it in person, it's a little bit more revealing," Bias said of stacking against the opposition.
For eighth-year coach Bias, he said he's confident in his boys squad, but health has been a concern.
"I've just been trying to be patient on my boys so they can get back healthy and hopefully, by regionals, we'll all be peaking at the right team," he said.
Both Chad Hollandsworth and Will Walker have battled mononucleosis symptoms, though are expected to return to full form by regionals. Senior Ryan Humphrey is also expected to miss until conference championships. Meanwhile, Cai Carena and Connor McKinney have contributed solid performances throughout the season.
Likewise, Capital's Michael Ruhnke has worked to overcome setbacks with plantar fasciitis this season.
With improving health, Ruhnke and fellow Cougars runner Marshall Sharp will look to lead a hopeful Capital bunch.
"We're going to keep on fighting and we can only do what we can do," Smith said. "These are talented teams, but we're going to go down with a fight to the end. My kids are talented and they rise up for big occasions.
No matter the outcome today, Smith, like Bias, is confident his athletes will give their best as they move toward the postseason.
"If all goes well, we'll come out the victors and if not, we're going to do everything that we can do to get there," Smith said.