The Fairfield Warde girls indoor track team will have to deal with some important losses in its 2010-11 season.

The girls team suffered the departure of two Division I caliber runners in Meg Ryan and Carly Birkhold. Ryan is running at the University of Notre Dame and Birkhold is a competitive runner at American University. Warde finished fifth in the Class L meet in girls indoor track, and 14th at the state open.

"We lost some incredibly intense talent," Warde girls indoor track coach Shawn Sorbello said. "It's going to be hard to replace."

However, despite its departures, Sorbello is confident in what he has returning. Entering the school is highly touted runner, freshman Cate Allen, who will be pushed to run four events, including the much anticipated 4x400 relay team.

"She's looking as strong as she's ever looked," Sorbello said of Allen. "We've got a strong freshman group coming in."

Joining Allen in the 4x400 team will be senior Mackenzie Dancho. Dancho and senior Alison Van De Berghe will also try to lift the Mustangs in the high jump event. Both girls finished in the top-10 at the Class L meet in high jump as Van De Berghe jumped a 4-10 and Dancho lept 4-8.

"We want Mackenzie and Alison to reach five feet in the high jump," Sorbello said. "We've got a good core."

Sarah Collins and Samantha Scheetz will lead the short distance runners for Warde, including the 4x200 relay. Collins will also run the 55-meter and Scheetz will take on the 300.

Alyson Leppela also returns to throw the shotput. She finished third at the Class L meet a year ago, with a throw of 33-03.

"We want her to get closer to 40 feet in the shotput," Sorbello said of Leppela.

Sorbello also made mention of the fact that the girls learned a lot from the departed Division I runners, by learning from the leadership that Ryan and Birkhold instilled.

"We're indebted to them for at least two decades," Sorbello said. "Success breeds success and people want to be part of a program that is successful."

On the boys side, Warde returns its entire 4x200 team, which finished 19th at Class L. Paul Reid anchored that last year, and should do it again this year.

Chris Bartlett will lead the squad on the 4x400 relay and Bobby Giesken will also be asked to lead as a senior.

"We're well-rounded," Warde boys coach Justin Ottavio said. "We have at least one competitive athlete at each event."

Harry Warnick will take the lead again for Warde in the distance events, and Kevin Krug has the goal of 5-10 in his mind.

For both squads, despite the losses, the goals don't change.

"I'm not going to waiver with the goals I have for the team," Sorbello said. "The goal is to be top-three in the FCIAC."

"The team is ready and focused to meet its potential," Ottavio said.