The first thing you notice about Ardmore's girls team is the numbers.

There are far more athletes going to Yukon today than there was last season. Chalk that up to a freshman class that has produced across all sports this season and the maturation of the returning runners and throwers.

At the forefront for Ardmore are two ends of the high schoo spectrum. Senior Destinee Howell and freshman Zoe Booker are two of the best in the state in their respective premier event — the 800 meters.

Booker was the regional champion in the 800, with Howell placing second. Howell was sixth in the 800 at state a year ago, one of just two Ardmore girls to take home a state medal.

"That pushes me, when someone is in front of me when I'm running," Booker said of running with Howell. "I think I've got a chance (at the 800). I did not expect that, but I've gotten better over practices for meets."

The other medalist from last season, sophomore Christin Russell, returns as a state qualifier in the 100 and 200. Russell placed fifth in the 200 at state as a freshman.

"I think we have a good chance at placing as a team," Russell said. "We're gonna have to work hard and just remember all the things we did in practice and do them better in the meet."

In distance races, sophomore Celia Caro qualified for the 3,200 for the second consecutive year, and adds the 1,600 this season.

Then there's the 4x800, a race that Howell and Booker think the Tigers have a chance to place among the top teams in state. Caro and Kevi Davis complete the team that won at 5A regionals by a wide margin.

"I have a feeling that we'll be top 2," Howell said of the Tigers' chances in the 4x800. "Shawnee is gonna be pretty tough to beat. First or second would be nice."

Something that Ardmore has this year that it lacked in last year's meet is depth in field events. The Tigers qualified Kristin Benson in the pole vault and both Brittany Harrison and Kaitlyn Cronemeyer in the shot put.

The Tigers also qualified in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Deer Creek is the prohibitive favorite in both 5A boys and girls, but Ardmore's girls were second to the Antlers at the regional meet last week.

But Ardmore returns nearly all of its team next season. The Tigers only lose Howell to graduation.

"This is the second year that I've actually had more than four people make it," Howell said. "It's good. We have things everywhere. This will be way better."

Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD