LEROY\u00a0\u2014\u00a0Pine River enters this track season as defending Highland Conference champions with hopes of having another title-winning season. \u201cWe had several individuals make the state finals, where we placed in three different events,\u201d Eric Gebhard, in his 14th year as coach, said. \u201cCole Gingrich, Colten Rawson, Ben Rigling, and Nick Truax made up a group of athletes that are almost impossible to replace. They represented a large portion of our points on a daily basis, and were leaders in their individual events.\u201d Key athletes this season for the Bucks will be senior Derek Hartline who returns as a leader in our middle distance and distance events. Junior sprinter Joe Rigling is a versatile athlete who will be in multiple relays and running events throughout the season. Sophomore hurdler Aaron Arnold \u201cwill be a strong asset to us,\u201d Gebhard said, while adding he has several talented newcomers. \u201cElijah Lewis is looking strong early, adding some depth to the jumps as well as our sprint crew. Christopher Rehleopf and Jeffrey Johnson are a great combination in our sprints and on our sprint relays. \u201cHunter Esline also adds some strength to our jumps, and should lend some speed to our sprints and middle distance. Hunter Moffit is new to our throws, and looks strong early in the shot.\u201d Gebhard expects to have depth in almost every event. \u201cPoints will be available to us across a variety of events in each head to head meet,\u201d he said. \u201cWe have a lot of potential for growth throughout the season. Gebhard likes his team\u2019s potential. \u201cThere is plenty of it with this group, and those putting in the effort during practice should see this improvement shape up before the season\u2019s conclusion,\u201d he said, adding that a key factor will be \u201chard work and enthusiasm for their team\u2019s success.\u201d The Bucks hope to be a factor in the league again. \u201cEvart and Lake City should have good returning teams, while McBain also shows up for every meet with plenty of talent on board,\u201d Gebhard said.