Ruppert leads attack for Pine River girls track

LEROY — Hurdler Shiloh Ruppert is among the key performers the Pine River girls track team has on its roster this season.

Eric Gebhard is in his second season as the girls skipper.

“Last year we had three individuals and a relay team qualify for the state finals,” Gebhard recalled. “We had a strong showing in the conference, and made great improvements as a young team.”

The Bucks sustained key losses from graduation.

“Mary Ware and Robyn Peppey were always sure points in the throws,” Gebhard said. “Cheyanna Rizor was strong in the distance for us.”

Ruppert is expected to give the Bucks plenty of points.

“She has been a mainstay in the hurdles over her career, and will continue to lead us this year,” Gebhard said. “Anna Lindquist (junior middle distance runner) has had state finals experience, and will continue to grow as a middle distance runner and vaulter.

“Olivia Thompson (sophomore middle distance runner) has had great early success in her track career, and should build off a strong freshman season. Kenzie Ruppert and Brooklyn Stephens (sophomore sprinters) work the sprint open and relay events very well.”

Promising new track members include freshman Logan Powell.

“She has jumped right out of the starting gate, and should post some outstanding numbers as a freshman in the sprints,” Gebhard said. “Selma Barnett and Kelsi Charles are great additions to our distance team, and will do well for us in those events. Sydney Bousquet and Dallas Snider have joined the hurdle group and lend us some depth there.”

Gebhard likes his team’s attitude and potential. 

“As young as this team is, the potential for growth both this year, and into next year, is great,” Gebhard said. “Our successes throughout the season will be based on the hard work put in by the individuals that make up this team.

“We have many new faces on the team, and the key to our success will be how quickly the learning curve can be mastered by our new members.”

Gebhard is hoping his team can be a factor in the Highland Conference.

“The conference has a lot of strong teams, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” he said. “Marion and Beal City were really strong last year, with Evart and Manton having a host of great athletes. The rest of us look to push our way back into the top of the conference.”