GARDEN CORNERS - Many newcomers are on hand at Big Bay de Noc this spring as the Black Bears prepare for their track season.
Their opener, the Division 3 Invitational, is set for Thursday at 1 p.m. in Marquette's Superior Dome.
The boys have 18 on their squad, marking one of their better turnouts in recent years.
"I'm excited about our turnout," said coach Dave Partyka. "We have athletic underclassmen. Only, it will take a few meets to see where everybody fits in."
The Black Bears are led by seniors Holden Pelletier and Kyle Reidenga in the weight events and sophomore Cole Potvin, the school's 400-meter dash recordholder (at 53.03 seconds).
"Holden and Kyle improved a lot last year," said Partyka. "Kyle is a very talented runner. For the other guys, we'll have to find out where their niche is."
April 19 - at Marquette (Superior Dome); April 24 - at Rapid River; April 26 - Delta County Invitational at Escanaba; April 28 - at Manistique.
May 1 - CUP meet at Mid Pen; May 8 - at Manistique; May 10 - at Rapid River; May 17 - Division 3 regional at Munising; May 23 - CUP jayvee meet at Bark River-Harris.
June 2 - U.P. Finals at Kingsford.
Juniors include Ryan Minor (middle distance) and Brandon Rochefort (sprints and middle distance).
The girls have eight on their team, led by seniors Brittany Richard (distance) and Laura Channel (sprints).
"Both are good leaders and have a lot of experience," said Partyka. "Brittany has really put in a lot of time on her own this winter and is doing very well in the road races. We're happy with where she's at right now. We don't have to worry about her getting into shape."
Junior Rachel Leckson, out for the first time since junior high, is entered in the sprints and high jump.
"Rachel is a good jumper," said Partyka, noting she holds Big Bay's junior high record in high jump. "Many of our underclassmen are first-year runners. We're trying different things for them. We're looking forward to seeing how the younger kids do, I think we have an opportunity to build the next few years."