LEROY – Pine River runners used their recent home invitational to gear up for some critical meetings coming up for the remainder of the season.

Erica Loop has usually been the No. 2 runner for the Bucks in her senior season. Junior Devyn Powell has usually been the No. 2 runner for the Bucks. Loop had a strong race at the home invitational despite cold conditions.

Her home course is a hard one “because of all the hills,” Loop said.

She’s having her best of four seasons and has improved from last year when she battled shin splints and tendinitis. But Loop said she’s at 100 percent after taking some time off from running. Her best time this season has been 23:13 two seconds lower than her all-time best.

“I’d like to get a 22:59,” she said. “I think I can get that. I have to make myself go hard.”

The Bucks have been competitive in the Highland.

Elliott VanDrumel, a junior, has been among the top runners for the Pine River boys. He admitted a cold, windy day at the Pine River meet wasn’t to his liking.

“I don’t mind the cold,” VanDrumel said. “I just don’t like the wind in my face. I’ve been having good races and bad races. Some races I start off too fast and other races I start off too slow.”

VanDrumel has usually been No. 3 or 4 in the Pine River lineup. It’s been his best season so far. His best time has been an 18.22. He wants to get into the 17s before the season ends and says it will take “hard work and dedication and being willing to push myself beyond my breaking point.

“I like the finish but I feel that my second mile is always my hardest,” he said. “Our team has been picking it up. We all can get better.”