Pine River runners ready for practice season

LEROY — Monday nights during the summer were designed for Pine River cross country runners to get ready for the 2015 season. That time has come, and in a major way.

The Bucks will officially start practices on Aug. 12. Throughout the summer, going through last week, various athletes would meet on Monday night at the school and do some running.

During the preseason, the Bucks will have Monday through Thursday practices, plus Friday mornings. The first meet is Aug. 22 at Benzie Central. School starts the day after Labor Day.

The Bucks have had 11 runners at the most and average around four or five most nights, Pine River coach Ross Vrieze said.

Wade Fullerton was among the runners at the last gathering on July 27. He’s run cross country five years. He struggled with hip problems last year. His best time has been 25 minutes and he’s looking to get that down to 20 minutes.

He ran in Austria during the summer, while attending a music activity.

Spencer Haskel also has been a summer runner and will be a junior this season. He’s been running seven years. Last season, he notched his personal record at the Pine River Invitational at 22 minutes, 47 seconds. He wants to get under 20 this season.

“It will take hard work and determination,” he said.

It’s been a busy summer for Haskel.

“This will help me run during the hotter times of the year,” he said of the Monday sessions. “We usually have only four or five people. But there have been times when we have half the team.”

It was hot last week, but Haskel said the 40s is an ideal temperature for runners. In the meantime, “you have to drink a lot of water and try to stay cool between races.”