Prep track: Rockets have depth, experience

RAPID RIVER – It was a solid track opener for the Rapid River boys last Thursday as they earned runner-up honors in the Superior Central Division 3 Invitational with 118 1/2 points.

Munising was crowned champion of the 13-team field with 144.

The Rockets, who have 31 on their team, hope to make another strong showing Wednesday when they host the Delta County Invitational at 2 p.m.

Gone through graduation are last year’s Upper Peninsula Division 3 pole vault champ Robert Metter and Zach Dominique, part of the U.P. runner-up 3200-meter relay.

Senior Jake Pearson won shot put last week at the Superior Dome with a toss of 47 feet, two inches. Classmate Hayden Hardwick was runner-up at 42-7. Pearson also placed fourth in the 200-meter dash and helped the Rockets place second in the 800 relay.

Additional senior returners are Pat Pryal in the sprints and Mike Boyer, who underwent shoulder surgery last year, and Jared Schwartz, who’s also experiencing shoulder problems.

Junior hopefuls are Mike Casey, Sawyer Johnson and Ben Rubick in the sprints, Steve Johnson (hurdles), David Hough and Josh Parrett (middle distance) and Lucas Bero and Robert Brodock (weight events).

“The kids are really working hard,” said coach Steve Ostrenga. “This is also a great reflection on their parents because they have that work ethic. We’ll have to rely heavily on our seniors and juniors, and they are good leaders. We can’t ask for any more from the five seniors we have.”

Sophomore Dan Blair won the 800 (2:12.94) and was runner-up in the 1600 (5:05.05) and helped the Rockets take second in the 3200 relay at the Dome.

Other sophomore hopefuls are Brody Schroeder and Craig Martin (distance), Jim Moore (middle distance) and John Stropich (pole vault).

“We have several other promising, young athletes,” said Ostrenga. “I give these kids credit because they also work real hard. We have to credit Paul Brunngraeber, who led many of our workouts in the gym. It’s a blessing to have the coaches working together like that.

“Tyler Crossman (a 2008 Rapid River graduate) is coaching our junior high girls and helping out a little with our distance people. He brings a wealth of experience from running in high school and college (at Ferris State University). We can always use middle distance guys and we’re thin in some of the field events.”

The girls, with 16 on their team, scored 31 points and shared ninth with Bark River-Harris in the Dome.

“We’ve been averaging 12-20 for the past 4-5 years,” said coach Greg Rubick. “We lost Neena Brockway (through graduation) who was a big part of what we did, especially in the field events.

“The Dome meet gave us a chance to see where we fit in. Hats off to Superior Central for running a class event.”

The Rockets are led by four seniors. They include Erin Anderson (open 800 and three relays), Hannah Micheau (100 hurdles and sprint relays), Josie Miller (weight events) and Cassidy Gould (distance).

“Erin is a four-year runner who has always been in the relays,” said Rubick. “But she found some success in the 800 and embraced it. She has done a lot of good things for us. Hannah is also a fourth-year runner who’s a leader. Both of these girls have shown a good example to the younger runners. Josie didn’t come out last year, but she’s working hard. We’re happy to have her and Cassidy on the team.”

Junior Aslynn Brockway, who experienced back problems last year, is entered in the 1600 run and 3200 relay.

Other juniors include Taylor Hedges and Emily Hickman (weight events), Kendra LaMarque (sprints) and Rachel LaCosse (sprint relays).

“I think Rachel will be very efficient for us in the relays,” said Rubick. “We’ll have some depth in the field events, but we’re still looking for a distance runner who can compete with the top girls in our conference.”

Leading the sophomore class are returner Shannon Gould (hurdles and sprint relays), Erika Schwartz (1600 and 3200 relays), Reinna Blair (weight events and middle distance) and Hayley Brockway (distance), who overcame a serious illness in recent months.

“A virus attacked Hayley’s spinal cord (last fall) and she recuperated during the winter,” said Rubick. “We’re tickled to have her out. It’s a blessing she can participate in track after what could have been a tragedy.”

Promising freshmen are Erica Rubick (middle distance), who’s battling an ankle injury from volleyball last fall, and Aslynn Pryal (sprints).

“Erica is going to be strong,” said coach Rubick. “We’re hoping to see some good things from her.”

The remaining schedule: