EVART — The Evart Wildcats saw some very nice success in 2016.

The Wildcats earned a Highland Conference title, a Division 4 regional title and finished second in the MHSAA Division 4 state meet and third in Division 4 MITCA state championship action.

With a strong nucleus returning, things are looking bright in 2017 as well.

Evart will field a strong sprint group, led by seniors Cody Pritchard and Danny Griffin as well as sophomore Kyle Stokes. The trio is three-fourths of last season’s 800-meter relay team that placed sixth overall at the state meet. Pritchard and Stokes were members of the 400-meter relay team and Griffin was last year’s regional champion in the 400-meter dash.

With the distance events, the Wildcats will miss the presence of 1600-meter and 3200-meter state champion Santana Scott. However, senior Josh Woods and sophomores Nate Woods and Austin Hamilton return to make the distance events a strength for Evart.

“Austin Hamilton really came on last year,” Evart head coach Dennis Peacock said. “He looks really good early this year. We look for those guys to give us a nice distance crew.”

Pritchard figures to be one of the team’s best long jumpers this season. Ben Randle will contribute with the high jump, long jump and potentially some relays.

“Ben has a great attitude and works hard,” Peacock said. “He’ll be our Swiss Army knife. He’ll do a lot of things for us, really.”

While returning the core of success from last season, the Wildcats are hoping to develop some younger athletes with senior leadership in hopes of making a run at another Highland Conference Championship.

The Wildcats have won four of the last five Highland Conference boys track and field titles.

“Our goal is always to try to win the Highland Conference,” Peacock said. “If we don’t get hurt, I think we can be in that conversation.

“Right now, it’s early to see who the newcomers will be to stand out.”