Gladstone ready for answers in new season

High school boys track

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone coaching staff is seeking answers to some questions as the school’s boys’ track team prepares to open its season.

Gladstone, which has 52 on its roster, makes its season debut in Tuesday’s Marquette Invitational at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome.

The elements have provided more than their share of challenges. The athletes had shoveled much of the snow off the track a week ago, but had practiced there just a few times. The area again received a substantial amount of new snow this weekend.

“It’s hard to tell where we stand right now,” said coach Gary Whitmer. “The weather has held us back, but it’s the same for everybody. Once we get on the track a little more we’ll get a better idea of what we have. I think there’s some potential, but we’re looking for a fourth runner in our sprint relays. We have a lot of underclassmen in the sprints.”

The Braves return senior Spencer Husbye and sophomores Luke VanBrocklin and Louie Berube to those relays, with junior James Greenlund and sophomores Ian Schwalbach and Jarret St. John vying for a spot.

Junior James McKnight is the school recordholder in the 110-meter hurdles (16.7 seconds). Joining him are freshmen Calvin Thibault and Blake Servant, with senior Mike Keeker doing the 300s.

The Braves have a defending Upper Peninsula Division 1 3200-meter champion in junior Adam Bruce, who’s also the school recordholder in the 1600 at four minutes, 31 seconds.

Junior Jake Strasler, who leads off the 3200 relay, has proven a worthy competitor in the distances. Joining him in the relay are senior Trent Marenger, junior Quinn Downey and freshman Lucas Hughes.

“Adam is a very talented runner and Jake will probably concentrate on the (open) 3200,” said Whitmer.

Bay College cross country recruit James Young returns after missing much of last season due to IT Band Syndrome. The senior harrier is resuming in pole vault, the 400 dash and 1600 relay.

Junior Nick Dawson is also doing pole vault with seniors Jared Demeuse, Jeff Stenson. Eric Leonoff, junior Christian Creten and sophomore Craig Chenier entered in the weight events.

“Jeff also wants to do some sprints,” said Whitmer. “We’re looking for people in high jump and long jump. We’re really an unknown quantity. We have some kids we think are going to come along.”

After competing in the Great Northern Conference for 35 years, the Braves are in the Mid-Peninsula Conference for their first and final year. They will return to the GNC next season.

“It will be kind of nice competing with schools our size,” said Whitmer. “Marquette (GNC member) always has big numbers and Houghton should have a strong team In D-1.”

Whitmer, who works mostly with the running events, is joined by longtime assistant and hurdles coach Mick Maslowski. Other assistants are Dylan Bowie (hurdles), Casey Young (pole vault) and Kent King (weight events).

“Mick has been here for more than 30 years and is real good with the kids,” said Whitmer. “Casey is very helpful with the pole vaulters and Kent and Dylan help out where they can.”

The schedule:

April 17 — at Marquette (Superior Dome); April 26 — Delta County Invitational at Escanaba.

May 1 — at Marquette; May 4 — jayvees at Escanaba; May 8 — at Escanaba; May 10 — Escanaba, Marquette and Iron Mountain; May 18 — D-1 regional at Marquette; May 22 — jayvees at Menominee; May 24 — M-PC meet at Westwood.

June 2 — U.P. Finals at Kingsford.