EAST WENATCHEE — A massive turnout spells good fortune for the Wildcats cross country team as 82 kids showed up on the first day of practice.

“We had 56 ids last year and graduated 23, so I was a little concerned but 82 is far bigger than we have ever had,” head coach Gary Millard said Tuesday. “Somewhere in those numbers we’ll get some talent.”

Of course, Millard won’t have to look too far with multiple-time state qualifiers Jarred Barnes and Ashlyn Hill returning for another season — though Millard said Barnes is still recovering from knee soreness and might be held out the first meet.

“He might not run, he has a little knee thing and we’re trying to be cautious but he’ll be fine when we get rolling,” Millard said. “(And) Ashlyn looks really good.”

Aside from those two, Millard is expecting a big season from Adrian Cabrera, Marco Gonzalez, Sara Bradshaw and Daniela Cazares.

“They are going to be much improved and on the girls team we’re almost replacing the team with some young new talent,” Millard said. “That will help us for sure.”

As they do every year, Eastmont opens its season at the Highlander Invitational in Spokane.

“We’re just getting kids ready to run,” Millard said. “We’re making joggers into runners and runners into racers. The kids will just run in their grade class, so there is no sort of varsity or JV thing. We’re just looking for competitiveness or kids that look totally lost because we want them to leave with the feeling that they can do this and improve.”