By John Vrancic
MANISTIQUE - Fielding a full cross country team had been a challenge for the Manistique girls the past three seasons.
That's not the case this year as the Emeralds have six on their team, with a few more expected to join in the days to come.
"I think we have some depth among our girls for the first time," said fourth-year coach Laurie Lindstrom. "This will be a fun season. We're definitely looking forward to it."
Gone through graduation is All-Upper Peninsula Division 2 selection Darby Demers, one of just two Emerald harriers last season.
Aug. 24 - at Newberry; Aug. 27 - at Munising; Aug. 29 - at Marquette.
Sept. 7 - at Sault Ste. Marie; Sept. 14 - at Newberry; Sept. 18 - Manistique Invitational; Sept. 21 - at Stephenson; Sept. 24 - at Munising; Sept. 26 - at St. Ignace; Sept. 28 - at Escanaba.
Oct. 3 - At Gladstone (Flat Rock); Oct. 10 - M-PC meet at Norway; Oct. 19 - U.P. Finals at Marquette (Harvey).
"Darby was a quiet leader and a very consistent runner," said Lindstrom. "We'll miss her this year."
But the Emeralds, who open in Saturday's Newberry Invitational, return all-state sophomore Holly Blowers.
"Holly has been working hard in the off-season," said Lindstrom. "I think having a year under her belt is helping. Holly's a fast runner who's used to setting an early, fast pace. But she seems to be pacing herself more this year. I think she'll step up as a leader."
The rest, who are newcomers, include juniors Olivia Holmberg and Brittany Beckman, sophomores Elise Frye and Michaela Beckman and freshman Kelsey Dehanke.
"All these girls are hard workers," said Lindstrom. "For Elise, this is the first time out for any sport and I'm looking forward to seeing what Kelsey has to offer."
The boys will be represented by senior All-U.P. picks Ryan Ramey and Robert Ayotte, who missed much of his junior track season due to a broken collarbone.
"This is the first time we've had four-year seniors," said Lindstrom. "Ryan has aspirations of doing indoor track in Arkansas in December. He's one of those kids who loves to run. I think he's on a mission this year. It's also nice to have Robert back. We're hoping to pick up a few more guys within the next few weeks."