Prep track: Mid Peninsula gears up for season

PERKINS – After a reasonably successful track opener, the Mid Peninsula girls are searching for ways to climb a little further up the standings.

The Wolverines scored 56 3/4 points in last Thursday’s Superior Central Division 3 Invitational, good for fourth place among 13 teams.

Mid Pen, which has 17 on its roster, resumes in the Delta County Invitational at Rapid River, set for Thursday at 2 p.m.

A key returner is senior Kelsey Shope, the reigning Upper Peninsula Division 3 high jump champion. Her leap of five feet was enough to win at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome last week.

“I think she’ll be real good,” said coach Julie Beauchamp. “She has been close to the school record and her jumping ability has improved. Hopefully, she can reach that this year. With Kelsey being our lone senior, we’ll rely on her for leadership.”

Shope also won the 400-meter dash at one minute, 7.36 seconds in Marquette.

Junior hopefuls include Chrissy Hanson in the middle distances, Britney Reese (hurdles), Kaitlyn Klenow (high jump, long jump and sprints) and Hunter Branstrom and Chloe Cox (weight events).

“Hunter is really improving and Chrissy ran a lot on her own during the off-season,” said Beauchamp. “She’s pretty motivated and looking pretty strong. This is a very athletic class. We have some kids who are pretty versatile.”

Leading sophomores are Brittany Salmi (pole vault), Kiisa Deese (weight events) and Cori Nummilien (middle distance).

Returning freshman Sarah Hanson is Mid Pen’s pacesetter in the distances, with Madison Bagwell among the leaders in the middle distances.

“Sarah is looking real good and Madison did long jump and high jump in junior high track last year and broke our junior high record in the 800,” said Beauchamp. “Many of the girls are in shape from basketball. I think the conditioning will help them.”

The boys scored 16 1/2 points in the Dome, with junior Trey Branstrom placing third in high jump and senior Evan Winkelbauer taking fifth in long jump.

Gone through graduation is Brett Branstrom, who captured U.P. titles in shot put, discus and high jump a year ago.

“Brett will be missed,” said coach Bobby Reichel. “Hopefully, we can get a few more people to step up. The weather has been a hinderance, but it’s the same for everybody.”

Senior Chad Branstrom is entered in the hurdles and high jump. Winkelbauer, who missed most of last season due to a broken ankle, will also doing high jump.

“I think Evan will be a big help for us this year,” said Reichel. “He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve been around. He really wants to break the (school) long jump record. With track also being a team sport, we’re looking for our two seniors to provide leadership.”

Promising underclassmen on a squad of 13 are sophomore returners Damian Richmond (long jump) and Cody Cayer (long jump and 800) and newcomer Tim Newcombe (distance) and freshman Keith Newcombe (middle distance and weight events).

“Damian will go anywhere we put him and Cody is a vocal leader,” said Reichel. “They’re willing to do anything we ask of them. Tim is a hard worker who knows how to push himself. Keith had been out with a knee injury, but is a big, strong kid. We’re excited to see what he can do.”