ESCANABA - It appears the numbers will be plentiful enough for the Escanaba girls to field a competitive track team this spring.
The Eskymos, who have 44 on their roster, open Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the Marquette Invitational at the Superior Dome.
"We have real good numbers," said coach Dan DeLong, who's entering his 11th season. "I don't think I ever had this many seniors (10). Plus, our numbers are pretty evenly distributed among the four classes, which is nice to see."
The seniors are led by three-time defending Upper Peninsula Division 1 high jump champion Olivia Nash and last year's runner-up Meredith Marlett. Both are also entered in long jump, with Nash also in the sprints and Marlett in hurdles.
"That's a pretty good 1-2 punch," said DeLong. "They're hard workers and leaders on and off the field. The other girls look up to them."
Remaining seniors are Elise Oswald, Mollee Ostrenga, Dominque Bougie, Trista Barron and Megan Thomma in the distances, Lauren Beversluis (sprints), Drew Mattson (sprints and pole vault) and Morgan Mathieson (weight events and pole vault).
April 17 - at Marquette (Superior Dome); April 24 - Marquette and Menominee; April 26 - Delta County Invitational.
May 1 - Kingsford; May 4 - Escanaba Jayvee Invitational; May 8 - at Gladstone; May 12 - at Negaunee; May 17 - Division 1 regional at Gladstone; May 22 - Jayvees at Menominee; May 24 - GNC meet at Marquette.
June 2 - U.P. Finals at Kingsford.
"It's nice to have senior leadership spread out through the whole team," said DeLong.
Leading juniors are Holly Ettenhofer (weight events and pole vault) and Joanie Stacey (distance).
Promising sophomores include Aubree Peterson (middle distance), Taylor Oswald (distance), Kayla Harris and Haley Martineau (sprints), Jade Heliin, Lynsey Collins and Aalysiah Spencer (hurdles) and Marlie Gillis (weight events and pole vault).
"I think we'll be alright in the hurdles," said DeLong. "And as long as we keep everyone healthy, we should be strong in the field events. Only, we lack a little speed on the team."
DeLong says the Eskymos are looking forward to Tuesday's opener.
"We'll get a chance to see many of the schools we normally don't see," he added. "We just want all the girls to get into the competitive spirit. This will be an eye-opener for some. Others may be surprised by how good shape they're really in."
DeLong points to Marquette as the team to beat in the Great Northern Conference and the U.P.
"Marquette lost some good seniors from last year, but they always seem to find some good freshmen to fill in," he said. "Gladstone always has good numbers, too. They'll be competitive and Menominee could be a sleeper. Menominee is very well-rounded. They have all their bases covered and Kingsford has some good athletes.
"Negaunee should be good in the weight events. Houghton is always strong in the field events and Calumet will be tough in the distances. I think it will be very competitive this year."