Bark River-Harris track: Demers leads promising group

HARRIS – A new head track coach will make her debut today as Bark River-Harris opens it season at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome.

Katina Demers is leading a program which includes 27 boys and 23 girls. She takes over for Al Bellefeuille, who has retired from coaching.

“I’m curious to see how our relay teams are going to do,” said Demers. “We also have a lot of boys in the open 800 (meter run). It will be interesting to see how they do.”

The boys were Upper Peninsula Division 3 runners-up to Pickford last season. Gone through graduation is U.P. 110 and 300 hurdles champ Trevor Cochrane, who also took the D-2 title in the 110s as a junior.

Seniors include long jumper Dane Messersmith, who will also anchor the 400, 800 and 1600 relays, Jeff Moore (hurdles, open 400 and 1600 relay), Mike Tebear (sprints), Caleb Wandahsega (middle distance) and newcomer Zach Derocher (weight events).

“We’ll rely a lot on these guys for leadership, and they’re really stepped up to the plate,” said Demers. “No doubt, there will be big shoes to fill.”

Junior hopefuls are Alex Emmes (sprints and hurdles), Brian Latta (sprints and long jump) and Aaron Asplund (400).

Promising underclassmen include sophomore sprinter Hunter Messersmith and freshmen Jacob Greenfield and Alex Mathias (pole vault and sprints). Mathias, however, will not vault in early-season meets following shoulder surgery in late February.

“We have a huge freshman class which were pretty excited about,” said Demers. “We have 4-5 trying out for the middle and longer distances. I think we’ll be very competitive this year. Although, we need pole vaulters and high jumpers. We’re a little thin on numbers in those events.”

Dustin DeGrave, serving as a volunteer assistant coach, is working mainly with the pole vaulters and distance runners.

The girls also have five seniors, including Alex Parrotta (sprints and high jump), Karleigh Sundquist (open 800 and relays), Emily Draze (hurdles, long jump and pole vault), Kim Palo (long jump and pole vault) and Sydnie Petrie (weight events).

Juniors include Sarah Lanaville (distance), Sydney Victorson (weight events and hurdles), Alyson Barra (hurdles), Mallory Peterson (pole vault) and Amanda Kleiman, Aleesa Madalinski, Kortney Jenshak and newcomer Adrianne Ault (sprints).

“I think we’ll be okay in the field events, but we need people in high jump,” said Demers. “We have good senior leadership. We also have a lot of experience, which should help.”

Other promising newcomers are sophomore Emily Johnson (distance) and freshmen Linnea Johnson (distance) and Katie Schultz (sprints).

“Linnea also has sprinter’s speed,” said Demers. “It will be interesting to see where she fits in. Plus, three of our freshmen want to try pole vaulting, which is encouraging.”

Also serving as volunteer assistant coaches are Justina Liss (distance) and Chantel Wolf (hurdles).

“It’s nice to have the extra hands,” said Demers.