Prep Track: North Central preps to kick off season

POWERS – Opening the 2014 track season has become a difficult task for the North Central Jets.

On April 17, the Jets were on their way to Marquette for the Superior Central Division 3 Indoor Invitational and had reached Escanaba when the team was instructed by school officials to return due to poor weather and road conditions.

They were then scheduled to visit Stephenson on Monday, but that meet was cancelled because the Eagles’ facility wasn’t ready.

The Jets will try again this weekend when they travel to Pickford for Saturday’s Web Morrison Invitational.

There are 23 boys out for track at North Central this spring, including five seniors. They are Josh Granquist in the middle distances, Travis Vincent (sprints and long jump) and Eric Prestay, Joe Mahoney and Zach Ryan (weight events).

Junior hopefuls are Rob Granquist and Tristen Harper (sprints) and Dylan Robinson (distance).

“Our captains (Josh Granquist, Prestay and Robinson) have really provided good leadership,” said coach Jerry Root. “I really believe we can be a competitive team. We have some numbers in the weight events and distances. Right now, we just want to get some times on kids and see how we do against other teams.”

Joining Robinson in the distances are freshman Seth Polfus and sophomore Bryce Holle, who led the Jets to the U.P. D-3 cross country title last fall. Polfus was runner-up and Holle placed fourth in the Finals.

Remaining sophomores are Morgan Cox and Jared Gerlach (sprints), Justin Stenberg (weight events) and Brenden Gatien (shot put).

Other promising freshmen include Tyler Bentley, Jon King and Brandon Johnson (distance), Jason Whitens (high jump and middle distance), Bob Kleiman (sprints) and Dylan Gagne (hurdles and sprints).

“We’re a relative young team, but we still want to focus on this year,” said Root. “We would like to get a little momentum going right away, which I think is important for a young team.”

The girls have 11 on their team, including three seniors and five juniors.

“We’re low on numbers, but the girls are working hard,” said first-year coach Dave Granquist. “The juniors competed well in jayvee meets (as sophomores) at Bark River-Harris and Norway last year.”

Seniors include Paige Whitens (relay specialist), Skye Triest (sprints) and Morgan Wells (shot put, long jump, 800 relay and 200 or 400 dash).

“Morgan is pretty versatile,” said Granquist. “She does what we ask her to do.”

Junior hopefuls are MaCaela Arnold (sprints and long jump), Sam Cryderman (sprints and pole vault), Kayla Arkens (300 hurdles), Bailee Wells (high jump, 1600 run and relays) and Laura Gogolewski (middle distance).

“Bailee is also pretty versatile and Sam has come a long way with her starts,” said Granquist. “I think Sam is going to surprise some people this year. The girls are working well together. Everybody encourages one another. We want to make sure everybody warms up well and stays away from injuries. We need to have a starting point.”

North Central’s lone sophomore, Jaycee Faccio, is entered in shot put and sprints.

Representing the freshman class are Mady Wells (sprints, 300 hurdles and high jump) and Sarah Granquist (distance and shot put).

“Jaycee has been throwing pretty well in practice and Mady is another versatile athlete,” said Granquist. “Overall, I feel this team is a question mark because of the (chilly) weather. It’s tough to get information when you don’t have a track and been outside only a few times so far. We could have three hurdlers, although we’re stretching ourselves out a little. We’re going to compete and compete hard. I think we can get a few more kids to the U.P Finals this year, although our regional is really going to be tough now that Forest Park and North Dickinson are in it.”