ESCANABA — It appears the Escanaba girls have plenty of senior leadership on their track team this year.
The Eskymos, who open at Menominee Tuesday, have 12 on their team of 44.
“We have a good turnover and mixture,” said coach Dan DeLong, who’s entering his 23rd season. “This is probably the biggest senior turnout I’ve had.”
Esky returns three from last year’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 championship 3200-meter relay.
They include seniors Ciara Ostrenga and Ava Gardner and junior Morgan Makosky.
Ostrenga was UP runner-up in the 400 a year ago, and senior Gabi LaCosse is ready to help in the distances.
“Ciara placed 10th in the UP Cross Country Finals last fall,” said DeLong. “She’ll be leading our distance runners, and we have a lot of senior leadership in the sprints. Gabi is a good inspirational leader. She can encourage younger girls to keep moving on.”
Leading sprinters include seniors Caitlyn Davenport, Daelyn Anderson and Violet Hawn and junior Mari Bink.
“Mari provides depth in the sprints and does long jumps,” said DeLong. “We can put together strong sprint relays. We have the team. The girls are working very hard. The weather hasn’t been the greatest, but the kids have fought through it. We look for our team to be competitive at every level. This is one of the more well-rounded teams I’ve had in the last 10-15 years.”
Senior Bailey Barron is the leading hurdler, followed by sophomore Mara Liss.
The weight events are also led by seniors. They include Allison Korpi, Morgan Gartland, Abby Rexford and Caitlin Druding.
Also entered in the field events are Bailey Barron (long jump) and classmate Alivia Royer (pole vault), junior Katelyn Stalboerger (high jump and weight events), sophomores Adrianna Getzloff (high jump) and Sophia Wagner (pole vault) and freshman Sophia Weaver (pole vault).
Assistant coaches include Joe Royer (pole vault), Dan Flynn (weight events), Stephanie Ostrenga and Kathy CIbula (sprints) and Courtney Boyle (hurdles).
“They make my job a lot easier, which also gives me more time to work with the distance people,” said DeLong.
Although the Eskymos expect to be very competitive this year, DeLong knows they’ll be provided with plenty of competition throughout the UP and Great Northern Conference.
“Marquette may be down a little in the distances, but we know they have plenty of speed,” he said. “Sault will be tough in the weight events, and you can never count Negaunee out. Vickie (coach Paupore) always gets the best out of her athletes. Houghton usually dominates the distances, and Calumet always has throwers and high jumpers. Menominee has good athletes, and Gladstone has Jamisyn Bergeron, who can run anywhere. Right now, we don’t know where Westwood is at, and Kingsford has a new coach.”
The Eskymos make their first home appearance against Marquette and Menominee April 26, followed by the Delta County Invitational at Rapid River and Manistique Kiwanis Invite (April 28-29).
“We’re looking forward to going to Manistique,” said DeLong. “That will give us a chance to see some of the best teams in the UP”
April 19 — at Menominee; April 26 — Menominee and Marquette; April 28 — Delta County Invitational at Rapid River; April 29 — Manistic Kiwanis Invitational.
May 3 — at Kingsford; May 6 — Escanaba Invitational or Relays; May 10—Gladstone and Iron Mountain; May 13 — Negaunee Invitational; May 19 — D-1 regional at Marquette; May 24 — at Menominee; May 26 — GNC meet at Marquette.
June 4 — UP Finals at Kingsford.