ESCANABA - After showing noticeable improvement last season (from 2011), the Escanaba boys' track team is looking to continue moving upward this year.
The Eskymos, who have 37 on their squad, open in Tuesday's Marquette Invitational inside Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome at 1:30 p.m.
"This is the best turnout we've had since I've been here," said third-year coach Ryan Wender. "The distances is where we'll be strong. We should be pretty good from 400 meters on up."
Defending Upper Peninsula Division 1 1600-meter champ Andrew Stenberg is Esky's pacesetter in the distances, where he is joined by juniors Jordan Ogren and Tyler Hosking and sophomore Gabe Ostrenga.
Entered in the middle distances are junior Jake Walker and sophomore Colin Barnhart, who's also doing sprints and long jump.
The Eskymos have just one other senior in hurdler Quinlan Hillesheim. The remaining junior is Tom Polishak in the weight events.
April 16 - at Marquette (Superior Dome); April 23 - Marquette and Menominee; April 25 - Delta County Invitational; April 30 - at Kingsford.
May 4 - jayvees at Munising; May 7 - Iron Mountain and Gladstone; May 11 - at Munising; May 16 - D-1 regional; May 21 - jayvees at Menominee; May 23 - GNC meet at Gladstone.
June 1 - U.P. Finals at Kingsford.
"We're still real young," said Wender. "Our senior leadership is good even though we have only two on the team. They're real good about showing the younger kids the right way to do stuff. Although, I look to depend on all our kids."
Other promising sophomores include Brian Kwarciany (pole vault), Brent Picord (pole vault and 300-meter hurdles), Brandon Schuenke (high jump and long jump) and Ryan Timler (weight events).
"We're hoping these guys can contribute in the field events," said Wender. "We'll be better than in the past. Where that puts us, I don't know. Just as long as we can get better. That's all we can control."
The Eskymos, like other U.P. teams, have been confined mainly to indoor workouts.
"It's hard to know what you have when you can't go outdoors," said Wender. "I have no idea how we'll do (on Tuesday), but I'm happy with how hard the kids have been working. At least we're going to be able to get times on some kids. This will give us a better idea where we stand."
Pat Gannon continues to serve as an assistant for the Eskymos, who are then scheduled to host Marquette and Menominee April 23 and the Delta County Invitational two days later.