Pine River boys track team eager to get season started

LEROY — It’s spring break for Pine River’s cross country team.

But coach Eric Gebhard and his squad are hoping that when they return for practices on Monday, it will truly be spring and track season can begin.

The Bucks have been practicing since March 14. The first meet is set for April 6 at home against Manistee, weather permitting. The Bucks are also slated to run April 9 at the St. Louis Relays.

“We’ve had a couple of outdoor practices,” Gebhard said. “We try to keep it inside as much as we can so muscles don’t tighten up.”

Gebhard has 40 on his roster.

“That’s the same as usual,” he said. “We usually have right around 40. I’ve got an equal number of sophomores and seniors, just over a dozen of each of those. We have a lot of new faces that should be able to chip in off the bat too. It’s nice to have a big sophomore class but returning that many seniors is a big help too.”

Devon Walker and Caleb Whitley return after placing fourth on the 1,600-meter relay team last year. Levi Riker is back after performing in the 400 and 800 relays last year and placing fourth in the 800 at the state level.

“We have some strong guys coming back,” Gebhard said. “We’re really excited about the season.”

Whitley, a senior, will be in the 400 and 1,600-relay this year.

“I want to PR in the open 400, win regionals and make it to state as a team,” Whitley said. “I do better in the team events. It’s a team thing, it pushes me.”

Whitley said this year’s team “is solid all the way around.”

Riker, a senior, will be in the 100, 200 and relays.

It was a pretty good season, he said of 2010. “We broke a couple of school records.”

He has the school 200-meter record of 22.7 and wouldn’t mind breaking that this year. Riker wants to qualify for the state finals in his individual events this year.

The 200 is his best event. “I maintain my pace around the curve and pick it up at the end,” he said. “Our team is solid all the way around.”