Pine River runners set to open season

LEROY — It’s a long season but the Pine River Bucks hope to get off to a strong start Saturday when they open their cross country season at the Benzie Central Invitational.

Coming up, the Bucks also run at Kent City Aug. 28, at Manton Sept. 4, at McBain Sept. 7 and at Harrison Sept. 14 in the early stages of the season.

Their only home date is Oct. 5 with their home invitational.Ross Vrieze is coaching both teams again this season. He said he has 17 boys and 10 girls.

“We have more girls on the roster,” he said. “It’s just an issue of getting some physicals in. We’re still dealing with the death of a classmate (Valerie VanAvery in an Aug. 10 car

accident.)”

Top boys runners for the Bucks will include juniors Tony Moore and Ben Rigling plus seniors Elliot VanDruemel and Chris Terbergh and sophomore Derick Hartline.“I wouldn’t say we have any superstars,” Vrieze said. “But we had a pretty solid core group of guys that want to work hard.”

The Highland Conference for boys will be competitive with the likes of Evart and Beal City, Vrieze noted.

“My goal is to finish in the top three,” Vrieze said.

The girls “can be competitive once we get some work out of them,” Vrieze said. “We want to make sure we stay injury free.”

Key PR girl runners will be Devyn Powell in her fourth season plus Cheyanna Rizor who played volleyball in the past. Jasmine Blackrick, a senior, has been running consistently for the Bucks. Vrieze expects junior Julia Lucas and sophomore Alyssa Geer to have strong seasons.