Pine River boys team defending its conference championship

LEROY — Pine River enters this track season as defending Highland Conference champions with hopes of having another title-winning season.

“We had several individuals make the state finals, where we placed in three different events,” Eric Gebhard, in his 14th year as coach, said. “Cole Gingrich, Colten Rawson, Ben Rigling, and Nick Truax made up a group of athletes that are almost impossible to replace. They represented a large portion of our points on a daily basis, and were leaders in their individual events.”

Key athletes this season for the Bucks will be senior Derek Hartline who returns as a leader in our middle distance and distance events. Junior sprinter Joe Rigling is a versatile athlete who will be in multiple relays and running events throughout the season.

Sophomore hurdler Aaron Arnold “will be a strong asset to us,” Gebhard said, while adding he has several talented newcomers. “Elijah Lewis is looking strong early, adding some depth to the jumps as well as our sprint crew. Christopher Rehleopf and Jeffrey Johnson are a great combination in our sprints and on our sprint relays.

“Hunter Esline also adds some strength to our jumps, and should lend some speed to our sprints and middle distance. Hunter Moffit is new to our throws, and looks strong early in the shot.”

Gebhard expects to have depth in almost every event.

“Points will be available to us across a variety of events in each head to head meet,” he said. “We have a lot of potential for growth throughout the season.

Gebhard likes his team’s potential.

“There is plenty of it with this group, and those putting in the effort during practice should see this improvement shape up before the season’s conclusion,” he said, adding that a key factor will be “hard work and enthusiasm for their team’s success.”

The Bucks hope to be a factor in the league again.

“Evart and Lake City should have good returning teams, while McBain also shows up for every meet with plenty of talent on board,” Gebhard said.