LEROY — It’s Ben Rigling’s senior season at Pine River for cross country and the Bucks are figuring it’s going to be a good one.

After the first two meets, Rigling wasn’t all that happy with his performance but realizes there’s plenty of time coming up.

Running at the state meet last season was a major highlight for the Bucks senior, along with breaking 17 minutes at 16:58.

This season he’d like to hit 16:30, qualify for state and place well in the Highland Conference.

“I need to start training harder and get more miles in and more speed work too,” he said.

Rigling said his kick is the best part of his running right now.

“I just want to maintain a faster pace,” he said.

Pine River was at the Ferris State Invitational Saturday. Rigling was 11th in 18:24.18

“We’re looking pretty good,” Rigling said. “The conference is looking tough right now. We can place second. I’m thinking Beal (City) will be pretty good this year.”

The strength of the team this season “is pretty much the same,” Rigling said. 

Another runner for the Bucks will be Brady Long, a senior, in his third year of cross country. He ran the last two seasons for the Bucks.

His best time has been 20:07. This season, he’s going for 19:30s.

“My main goal is to get in really good shape to place at state for wrestling,” Long said. “My secondary goal is to help the (cross country) team make it far.”

Long figures he put in a hundred miles of running during the summer, more so than previous summers.

“I usually keep a pretty even pace,” he said. “I just have to work on starting slower and picking my speed up throughout the race. Sometimes I start too strong and get tired throughout the race. If I start slower, I think I’ll do better.”

“We have to pick up a couple of spots we’re missing during races,” Long said. “Five seconds is a big deal for us.”

In the conference, Long thinks top two is possible for the Bucks, who seem to have good depth.

“One to four is a good mark for us,” Long said. “We’re pushing each other to keep the No. 5 spot.”