For the past 14 years, the McDonald High School boys and girls cross country teams have been a staple at the state meet.
This year is no different as both teams qualified for this Saturday's state meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Both teams compete in Division III.
McDonald's boys team took second at Saturday's regional at Boardman High School, while the girls were third. The top four teams in each regional race advanced to state.
Both Blue Devil teams, rain or shine, practice together.
"We'd like to think our girls program is our biggest supporter of our boys program and our boys are supportive of our girls," said boys coach Chris Rupe, whose teams have made state every year since 1999. "We work hard to make it as much of a family atmosphere as we can. When our junior high teams are around, we all train together at the same place every day. We enjoy it that way. It brings out the best in everybody.
"If we do it right, it brings out the best in all of them."
Girls coach Mike Richards, whose team made it every year aside from 2008 when the regional meet was run at GlenOak High School, said the workouts test both the boys and girls.
"We set up the workouts that there's someone you're striving to push against or we set them up so that there's somebody catching you so that you're pushing yourself harder," Richards said. "It works out nice because you're always there encouraging each other, cheering for each other. All four teams get to know each other real well."
There's been a lot more McDonald runners to get to know. Rupe said there are 61 runners in the varsity and junior high programs.
"Involvement-wise, it was our biggest year ever of number of runners we've had," Rupe said. "It's neat to have kids take interest in the sport and enjoy what it's about and enjoy the success of their teammates. We've had a lot of our younger runners come down to regionals to support the older kids. That's neat to see and keep things going over the years."
The state meet hasn't been too kind to the girls team. They haven't finished in the top 10 since the 2002 season when the Blue Devils took third - the highest finish for a McDonald girls team in school history.
"I guess this week has been more of a celebration," Richards said. "Yea, we're there. That's what happened the last couple of years on the girls side. We really haven't run that well down at state."
This year's team, which is mostly made up of underclassmen runners, are prepared to change McDonald's outlook.
"This year has been totally different," Richards said. "The group of girls we have are on a mission to be the first group of McDonald girls to place in the top 10 (in a while). We haven't done that for 10 years. We want to finish top seven, possibly.
"It isn't about getting down there and that's enough."
As for the boys team, which are the defending Division III state champions, they know the task ahead. They are in a four-team race with Garaway, Seneca East and Maplewood, the current top-ranked team in the state according to the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches.
"I think we need to run a determined kind of a race," Rupe said.
Every year, it seems both McDonald teams are determined to not let the other one down and make the trip to the state meet.
"It's a neat experience for our programs and our teams to go down and compete with the rest of the teams in the state," Rupe said. "Some of those best teams are from around here. We know them well and seen them often."