Braves’ girls track eager to get season started

GLADSTONE — Their numbers may be a little low, but the Gladstone girls are ready to make do with what they have this track season.

The Braves, with 21 on their team, open today at 4 at Escanaba in a triangular meet which includes Menominee.

“The kids are ready to run,” said coach Jim Murtha. “Even though our numbers are a little low, we’re happy with our team. The girls are doing real well. Everybody is a hard worker. The girls have good attitudes. It’s a good atmosphere.”

Santana Wells, who’s entered in the weight events, is the lone returning senior. Also returning in the throwing events are juniors Mackenzie Parish and Heidi Mitchell.

“I hope Mackenzie continues to improve from the last two years,” said Murtha. “It has been hard. We haven’t been able to get outside much because of the weather. We didn’t get on our track until last week.”

Remaining returners include sophomores Ahna Larson (hurdles, sprints and long jump), Abby Stephenson (middle distance) and Chloe Charlebois and Lydia Tembreull (distance).

“Ahna is a very good athlete,” said Murtha. “She’s a hard worker and very good leader.”

Among Gladstone’s newcomers are seniors Lexus Howard (sprints and shot put), Kaleia Lawrence (weight events, high jump and long jump), Taleise Lawrence (weight events) and junior Sara Petric (weight events), an exchange student from Italy.

The rest are freshmen. They include Keeley Angsten, Lilly Karl and Riley Siebert (pole vault), Lilly Karl (pole vault and distance), Taylor Brunette (hurdles), Brianna DeLaney (sprints), Jamisyn Bergeron (distance and sprints) and Jadyn Bovin, Sam Strasler and Aleyna Wetthuhn (distance).

“I’m real excited about this group,” said Murtha.

“We have a lot of youth on the team and they’ll get some experience tomorrow (today). We’ll be experimenting early in the season. We’ve got to find their strengths and I think Ahna in the hurdles, our distance people and distance relays will be our strengths. We’re also excited about our pole vaulters. Coach (Casey) Young does a great job with them. All the girls on this team are quality. They’re a hard working group and fun to work with.”

Among the other teams, Murtha points to Marquette as the team to beat in Division 1 in the Upper Peninsula.

“That’s based on their numbers, although Negaunee won it (U.P. title) last year,” he said. “Marquette always comes up with good underclassmen. They just seem to reload. In our conference, every team will be tough.”

After today’s opener, the Braves return to Esky for Thursday’s Delta County Invitational.

Gladstone also hosts the Mid-Peninsula Conference meet for the first time May 20 and heads to Menominee for the Great Northern Conference meet May 23.

The schedule:

April 23 — at Escanaba; April 25 — Delta County Invitational at Escanaba; April 30 — at Marquette.

May 3 — Escanaba Jayvee Invitational; May 7 — Iron Mountain and Escanaba; May 9 – Escanaba, Iron Mountain and Marquette; May 16 — D-1 regional at Escanaba; May 20 — M-PC meet; May 23 — GNC meet at Menominee.

June 1 — U.P. Finals at Kingsford.