Delta County track invitational: Braves look to continue success

ESCANABA – With a track victory already under their belts this season, the Gladstone boys hope to continue their success in Thursday’s Delta County Invitational.

The Braves won the Superior Dome Invitational in Marquette April 16 and are visiting the Escanaba High School track in search of their 10th consecutive county title.

Despite their success, coach Gary Whitmer knows the Braves can’t afford to take anything for granted.

“You never know what can happen with the mix of teams,” he said. “You have to take care of business. The smaller schools always have good athletes.”

Also entered are Rapid River, Big Bay de Noc, Mid Peninsula, Bark River-Harris and Hannahville.

Field events begin at 2:30 p.m. Running events start at 3.

In Marquette, the Gladstone boys scored 57 of their 101 points in the field events.

Senior Jared Vuksan recorded a winning toss of 54 feet, six inches in shot put, where the Braves grabbed the top three spots. Justin Pederson added a first in long jump (21-0), with Zach Sturdy taking pole vault (12-0).

“Jared threw well for the first meet, and going 1-2-3 in shot was nice,” said Whitmer. “Justin is doing a nice job in long jump and our sprints and sprint relays are coming along. We had a few things go wrong, but I think winning at the Dome gave us a lot of confidence. Once the kids got going, they were fine. Hopefully, Thursday’s meet will give our distance kids a chance to gain some confidence.”

Vuksan and Mid Pen senior Brett Branstrom loom as leading contenders in discus, with Rapid River senior Robert Metter a possible contender in pole vault after placing second in the Division 3 Dome Invitational at 12-3 on April 18.

The 400-meter dash could prove interesting with Gladstone junior Chris Sedenquist and Big Bay junior Cole Potvin listed among the frontrunners. Both won in Marquette last week, with Sedenquist clocked in 53.66 seconds and Potvin at 54.72.

Esky’s main strength is its distances, where it’s led by senior Andrew Stenberg.

The Esky girls, shooting for their third straight championship, are coming off a fourth-place finish in Marquette.

At the Dome, senior Holly Ettenhofer provided the Eskymos their lone first with a leap of 7-6 in pole vault.

“We’re still trying to figure out our lineup,” said Esky coach Dan DeLong. “The postponement of Tuesday’s meet (a home triangular with Marquette and Menominee) didn’t help any. Lynsey Collins is looking pretty strong in the hurdles. Aubree Peterson will be up there in the 400 and 800, and we’re pretty solid in the distance. But the relays are a big question mark for us right now.”

Esky’s pacesetters in the distances are sophomore Aimee Giese and junior Brittinie Larson.

DeLong expressed concern about Esky’s field events. Its pole vault pits were moved outside Tuesday and its high jump pits will become available today.

“Those are our shakiest events right now,” he said. “We just haven’t been able to practice much with those. I know Gladstone is strong in the field events, although a lot of teams are going to rob points from others. Holly did well for us in pole vault at the Dome. Yet, she’s very capable of going higher.”

Ettenhofer represents Esky’s best bet in the weight events, with Mid Pen senior Krysta VanDamme and Rapid River senior Neena Brockway also expected to contend.

Mid Pen junior Kelsey Shope and BR-H senior Alex Parrotta soared the highest among area high jumpers last week, both clearing 4-10.

Sophomores Iris Robare and Jaime Snowaert provided Gladstone with their highest finishes in Marquette. Robare placed third in long jump (14-11) and Snowaert tied for third in pole vault (7-0).