Evart track teams enjoy strong numbers

EVART — It almost seems strange that with 70 and 80 degree weather on tap this week, track teams like Evart will be going to an indoor meet Thursday at Central Michigan University.

But that’s what was scheduled several months ago when high school athletic directors expected typical mid-March weather with temperatures in the mid-30s or 40s and possible snow on the ground.

But Evart coaches Jim Crawford for the boys and Rene Ward for the girls had their athletes outdoors last week to get ready for what they both anticipate will be a special season for the Wildcats.

Crawford is excited over his team’s Highland Conference title prospects. He had 47 boys come out for the first week of practice.

“We have a good core back from last year,” he said. “We should be in contention for the conference crown.”

Key athletes include top runners from the league championship boys cross country team with Logan Hammer, Andrew Militello and David Zinger. They’ll be in the distances.

Jesse Lang is on the 3,200-meter relay team that set the school record last season. Ricky Miller returns after qualifying for the state meet in the pole vault last season.

“Distances is going to be our strong point,” Crawford said, adding that the warm weather should be a boost to his team’s practice schedule. “Last year we weren’t on the track until after the spring break. Our pole vaulters are going to get to jump (the first week). That’s a major help.”

Crawford said his team should have plenty of depth.

“Last year, we missed winning the conference by 11 points to Lake City,” Crawford. “We were second in the conference last year and basically have everyone back.”

Ward is anticipating 24 girls on her track roster.

“We’re up a few this year,” she said. “We have Katelyne VanMourik and Jessica Tea back.”

VanMourik, an outstanding cross country runner, is expected to help the Wildcats in the 1,600, 3,200 and 400 and the long jump while Tea will be in the high jump and 400.

Ward said she has six freshmen on the roster.

“There’s two really good ones,” Ward said, “Kristin Kullman broke the mile record last year (in middle school). Alexis Pylman is a pole vaulter.”

Ward expects the Wildcats to be competitive all-season long. “We finally have our depth,” she said. “Weather like this is wonderful. They’re not freezing while they’re running.”

Good weather will also help with field events.

“(Wednesday, March 13) was only our third day of practice and we’re already at the track,” Ward noted.