FELCH - Track season begins at the Niagara Invitational Thursday for the North Dickinson Nordics.
The girls team shows good numbers with 27 girls participating but only nine returning letter winners. North Dickinson has 10 freshman and four other newcomers.
"At this point we are inexperienced in several events," head coach Mike Roell said. "Hopefully our upperclassmen can help lead this team and we have some freshman and sophomores step up and have good years. But it is going to take some time."
Time is something the Nordics haven't yet this spring. The team has only been on the track for one practice.
"The first few meets are going to be experimental to some degree," Roell said.
The Nordic girls do not possess as much speed as years past, but Roell hopes his team's depth can make up that.
Of the group's nine varsity returners, North Dickinson does bring back top point getter and team MVP Deborah Starnes. She competes in pole vault, long jump and sprints.
Other returners include seniors Gina Rotter, Kimberly Cary, Abigail Steinbrecher, Winter Steinbrecher, along with juniors Miranda Jacobson, Maria Roell, Frankie Preistap and sophomore Elizabeth Charlevoix.
"This is a great group of girls who are working hard considering the weather," Roell said. "I am looking forward to getting the meets started and watching improvement throughout the season."
Like the girls, the boys have decent numbers with 27 total athletes.
Coach Mike Lindholm's team, which dominated en route to a U.P. Division 3 title last spring has 15 returning letter winners to help absorb the loss of six seniors from last year's squad.
"That will be helpful in filling all events," Lindholm said of the numbers. "We have lost a decent portion, in terms of points, and U.P. qualifiers due to graduation. We also have several from last year's team which contributed a large portion of our points to win the U.P. Finals."
Six returners make up North Dickinson's senior class, including Tim Hruska who won the 100, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles at last year's U.P. meet. Fellow seniors are Logan O'Neil, Justin Clark, Blake Lindeman, Bradley Gustafson and Matthew Schultz.
"I'm hoping the seniors show leadership for the younger athletes," Lindholm said.
Juniors Colin Roell, Jordan Neumann, Zack Balmes and sophomores Walton Reiner, Lucas Jauquet, Noah Berg and Gavin Johnson complete the Nordics list of returners.
"I'm expecting Hruska, Gustafson, Schultz, Clark, Roell, Lindeman, Wagner, Neumann, and O'Neil to be strong in their U.P. qualifying events from last year," Lindholm said.
North Dickinson's roster has four sophomores and 10 freshmen.
"Some of the freshman, sophomores, and juniors from last year will begin to fill in the voids which are left," Lindholm said. "Like last year, the team will do well if they work hard in practice.
"I think they can be competative, which is all you can ask of a track athlete, just compete. They, individually, know if they are doing what they need to do to get better."
Like last year, Lindholm expects points to be spread out throughout the team.
"If we can find some good combinations in relays by the end of the year we should be alright," he said. "Hopefully, the underclassmen will improve throughout the year and prove helpful down the stretch."
North Dickinson's first home meet is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29.
SENIOR - Gina Rotter, Kimberly Cary, Deborah Starnes, Abigail Steinbrecher, Winter Steinbrecher, Abigail Reimer.
JUNIOR - Miranda Jacobson, Jade Driscoll, Maria Roell, Frankie Preistap.
SOPHOMORE - Elizabeth Charlevoix, Amber Chiamulera, McKenna Christian, Martha Nord, Mariana Smith, Kimberly Pekarek, Bailey St. Onge.
FRESHMAN - Haley Anderson, Alyssa Bates, Sara Borvin, Ciara Dario, Cassie Gustafson, Aleesha Carlson, Claire Lindholm, Cassidy Morkin, Veronica Nord, Kaitlyn Hood.
SENIOR - Logan O'Neil, Tim Hruska, Justin Clark, Blake Lindeman, Bradley Gustafson, Matthew Schultz.
JUNIOR - Derek Wagner, Jordan Bosma, Reggie Johnson, Colin Roell, Jordan Neumann, Zack Balmes, Jonas Christian.
SOPHOMORE - Walton Reimer, Lucas Jauquet, Noah Berg, Gavin Johnson.
FRESHMAN - Garrett O'Neil, Kory Williams, Austin Curtis, Jacob Roell, Hunter Mattson, A.J. Alexa, Max Williams, Kevin Cary, Tyler Smith, Dean Starnes.