WESTPORT -- Tom Owen believes that the Staples High girls ski team is talented enough to defend its state title.

The Wreckers soon will get the chance to show it.

Owen, who is in his 32nd year coaching --24th over two stints at Staples-- returns a deep, experienced roster coming off the State Open championship. Junior Alli Thomson, who missed last season with a torn ACL, enters this year as the team's top skiier. Sophomores Jacqueline Chappo (all-state honorable mention last year) and Alex Collins (Team Connecticut), and senior Caroline Corbally, are also expected to be top performers for Staples.

"I can see any one of those top three to four girls pushing (Thomson) a little bit," Owen said.

Corbally will also serve as one of the team's captains along with fellow seniors Haley Garrison, Jackie Lawrence and Julia Kaner.

"They've really demonstrated good leadership coming into the season," Owen said.

Owen is pleased with the amount of training his team, including the sophomores and juniors, has built up in the last year. Sophomore Lizzie Cooperstone and juniors Caitlin Hartman, Cecila Kiker and Emily Borner add depth to an already deep roster.

"They have a lot of time in their belts in terms of race training," Owen said of his underclassmen.

The Wreckers, who race at Mount Southington, are hopeful that their talent will lead them a long way. Fairfield placed second at the Open last year and is again expected to serve as one of the Wreckers' primary competitors.

"Certainly that's our goal," Owen said of defending the State Open title. "You never really know who's coming into another team."

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