Rockets’ track team has depth

RAPID RIVER — With a large turnout of track athletes, it appears the Rapid River boys won’t have to worry about filling events this season.

The Rockets, with 40 on their squad, opened Tuesday at Menominee where they placed third among six teams.

“We lost a lot of guys (through graduation) last year, but we have quite a few new guys. Beside the freshmen, we have some guys who decided to give it a try,” Rockets’ coach Steve Ostrenga said. “We saw a lot of good things from our younger guys and leadership from our seniors. It’s nice to get the first one in. The guys and girls stepped up to the plate.”

Among the graduates are Upper Peninsula Division 3 champions Logan Hardwick (discus) and Lucas Sundling (400-meter dash).

The Rockets resume by hosting Mid Peninsula, Big Bay de Noc and Manistique Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Senior Gunner Larson won discus at 145 feet, nine inches and took fourth in shot at Menominee.

“He’s such a hard worker in the weight room,” said Ostrenga. “Only, I’d like to see his shot come up a little. We have 12-14 guys in shot put or discus. If they’re self-motivated and work at it, the sky’s the limit.”

Also returning in the weight events are seniors Nate Schwartz, Zach Narkooli and Nathan Sundling (shot), junior Jackson Hooten and sophomore Parker Dausey.

Among the new throwers are senior P.J. Monticello, junior Tony DeMars and freshman James Gillmore.

Other senior returners are Brent Lundquist (middle distance and sprints), Noah Gustafson (sprints and high jump) and hurdler Lenny Menary, who ran a personal-best 19.1 seconds in the 110-meter race Tuesday.

Additional senior newcomers include Nate Olson, Steven Taylor and William Shope.

“Nate is a very versatile athlete,” said Ostrenga. “We can enter him in sprints. Steven and William have good speed and endurance. It’s just a matter of where they can help us the most.”

Other junior returners are Tyler Sundling and Miguel Isaac (sprints and middle distance), Brayden Moss (middle distance and pole vault), Noah Sefcik and Lucas Gendron (middle distance), Avery Closs and Garrett Novak (distance) and Azariah Hernandez (pole vault and hurdles). Joining them are sophomore Griffin Flath (sprints) and freshman Reese Dawley (sprints and relays).

“We have some open spots in hurdles,” said Ostrenga. “We have a lot of throwers, but it would be nice to add to our pole vault and hurdles. Everybody wants to improve. I think (defending U.P. champ) Bessemer is the team to beat again this year.”

The girls, who have 17 on their team, took sixth in Menominee.

Rapid River has five seniors. They include Erica Proehl and Riley Christianson (weight events), Emily Thibault (hurdles and high jump) and Jenna Rubick and Sherry Vandeville (relay specialists).

“It’s kind of nice to see five seniors make it all the way through,” said coach Greg Rubick. “They’ll provide some leadership.”

Returning juniors are Mya Paulin (sprints) and Aerianna Spriks (middle distance).

Sophomore returners include Morgan Anderson and Myah Pearson (weight events), Kathy Hickman (pole vault), Quenna Spriks (sprints), Emily Goodacre (middle distance) and Taylor VanOss (distance).

“Emily is in real good shape this year,” said coach Rubick. “She appears to be a little stronger than last year.”

Newcomers are sophomores Shania Pore (middle distance or sprints) and Jacquie Gillman (long jump and sprints) and freshmen Addie Christoff (sprints and pole vault) and Gabby Moss (sprints and long jump).

“I think Addie and Gabby will be solid additions to our team,” said coach Rubick. “I think they’ll give us some of the speed we’ve been lacking the past couple years. This is going to be one of those teams which will be struggling against larger schools, but I think we’ll be competitive with schools our size. We’re right at that number where we can fill every event, but we’re not going to have multiple people which I believe is pretty commonplace among Class D schools.”

The remaining schedule:

April 23 — Mid Peninsula, Big Bay de Noc and Manistique; April 25 — Delta County Invitational at Escanaba; April 30 — at Munising.

May 3 — at Stephenson Invitational; May 9 — Rapid River Invitational; May 14 — at Bark River-Harris Relays; May 15 — D-3 regional; May 21 — Skyline Central Conference at Bark River-Harris.

June 1 — U.P. Finals at Kingsford.