MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University indoor track team looks to use its youthful experience for big gains this season. On the roster the majority of the team is either a freshmen or sophomore. The Wildcats look to be strong in the sprints and a couple of the field events (long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault.). Entering the season the ‘Cats look to improve in the distance events.
At last year’s Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships the ‘Cats finished in fifth place with 47.50 points. Grand Valley State was first with 205 points as the Lakers were followed by Ashland (134), Hillsdale (77) and Ferris State (51).
“We have a young team. A lot of freshmen and sophomores,” said Tom Barnes, the head track and field coach at NMU. “With our training times we look pretty good.”
Catherine Angeli looks to lead the sprint group. She was fifth in the 200-meter dash at last year’s GLIAC Championships with teammate Brittnee Balbierz ninth. Angeli can run anywhere from the 55 dash to the 400. Balbierz can run a 55 and up for the ‘Cats. Breanna DeBruin, a freshman from Wisconsin, should contribute in the sprint events and a place on one of the relays. Alyssa Erspamer from Marquette is another freshman sprinter who should contribute. Look for newcomer Rebecca Rotter in the 200 and 400.
The hurdles will find newcomers Colby West along with Stephanie Hahn.
In the middle distance and distance events the ‘Cats have returning Maegan Hendershot, Erin VanEnkevort and Kristen Schulz leading the way. Jessica Krob, Erin McCulloch and Kristen Hoklas return after running in the 3,000 and 5,000 last year. “We were a little weak in the distance last year,” said Barnes. “We should be stronger this year.” A couple of freshmen could contribute in the distance events and they include Olivia Juntila and Rita Woitas.
Krista Squiers was the lone member of the team to participate at the 2009 NCAA Division II Indoor Championships as she was 12th in the weight throw (53-11.75). She was fifth at the GLIAC Championships in the event. According to Barnes she could have a great season.
Bailey Franklin who can do multi-events for the ‘Cats was sixth in the high jump at the GLIAC Championships last year is back. She won the triple jump at the GLIAC meet and was third in the pentathlon last year. Karin Diebold returns as she was eighth in the pole vault. Melissa Christensen placed in the long jump with a sixth-place showing at the GLIAC Championships and was fourth in the triple jump. A newcomer to look for is Jamie Gotshall in the pole vault. Newcomer Brooke Granquist will give the pentathlon a try. Mariah Beaman, a freshman, should contribute in the weight throw. In the high jump another freshman who could contribute is Kayleigh Coulson.
According to Barnes the ‘Cats could finish as high as fourth place in the GLIAC race. “It is hard to say,” said Barnes. “It is going to be tight, but we are going to be stronger this year.” The top teams according to Barnes are Grand Valley State, Ashland and Hillsdale.
NMU opens the season with the St. Scholastica Opener (Dec. 5). The team does not compete then until January at the LSSU Classic (Jan. 16). NMU hosts the Northern Challenge Jan. 23 in the Superior Dome. February finds the ‘Cats at the Pointer Invitational (Feb. 5-6) and at the Lake Superior Challenge (Feb. 13). The championship season begins with the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships (Feb. 26-27) which will be followed by the NCAA Division II National Championships (March 12-13).
NMU has proved that they have improved year in and year out. With the nucleus of the team young the experience they gain in the meets leading to the conference meet will prove to be very valuable.
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Sports Information Director