SPRING PREVIEW: Bobcat runners look to build from league championship

Front row, from left: Cheyanne Paynter, Meggan Macurio, Abbie Rittenhouse, Troy Macurio, Keisha Picklesimer, Whitney Dean, Alexis Tracy, Emily Agster, Abigail Shackley and Alandria Agster. Middle row, from left: Rhiannon Gillis, Charlee Hicks, Eleni Guenther, Eric Grismore, Pii Nordstroem, Hunter Wojciechowski, AJ Beldo, Justin Kissling and boys coach Kyle Griffin. Back row, from left: Nick Kemler, Jake Riggs, Noah Kemler, Anthony Beccaria, Logan Tighe, Hunter Guminey, Talon Luzier, Caleb Franz and Garrett Fraly. (Kyle Kotecki/For the News Advocate)

Front row, from left: Cheyanne Paynter, Meggan Macurio, Abbie Rittenhouse, Troy Macurio, Keisha Picklesimer, Whitney Dean, Alexis Tracy, Emily Agster, Abigail Shackley and Alandria Agster. Middle row, from left: Rhiannon Gillis, Charlee Hicks, Eleni Guenther, Eric Grismore, Pii Nordstroem, Hunter Wojciechowski, AJ Beldo, Justin Kissling and boys coach Kyle Griffin. Back row, from left: Nick Kemler, Jake Riggs, Noah Kemler, Anthony Beccaria, Logan Tighe, Hunter Guminey, Talon Luzier, Caleb Franz and Garrett Fraly. (Kyle Kotecki/For the News Advocate)

BRETHREN — Brethren track and field hopes to have a good 2018 season, with some quality athletes returning and some fresh faces that could go a long way in shoring up any weaknesses in the Bobcats’ roster.

The boys’ team is coming off a successful 2017 campaign that saw them finish first in the West Michigan D League, the school’s first track league championship since the 1960’s.

“Last season was my first year out here and we won the league,” said boys’ coach Kyle Griffin. “… We’re looking to build off that this year. We’re going to try to keep going.”

A key component of the Bobcats’ efforts will be Logan Tighe, who competed at states in the high jump last year and looks to return in 2018.

“We’re looking to build off last year with him,” Griffin said. “He should be able to take the league in the high jump, I would hope, and we’re looking to slide him into some sprints.”

Griffin believes the relay teams, paced by Nick Kemler and Diego Peterson, are looking strong. Jake Riggs is expected to make an impact in the shot put.

Though the Brethren boys’ team lost some of its top athletes from last season, the Bobcats should be able to offset those losses with some new additions to the team.

“We lost a decent amount of top-end talent from last year, but we have kids like Logan, who has grown immensely this year in terms of athletics,” Griffin said. “We have kids that came out for cross country that should be able to score where they didn’t score last year. We’ll be able to fill those gaps.”

The future appears bright for the Bobcat boys’ team even beyond this season, as much of the talent comes from the sophomore and junior athletes.

“It’s a decent split,” Griffin said. “We have one veteran senior. We pulled a couple seniors that haven’t run in the past that joined the team now, but we should be pretty sophomore- and junior-heavy, which will be nice for the future.”

Though the girls’ 2017 season wasn’t quite as successful as the boys’, Jason Kemler, head coach of the girls’ team, maintains a positive outlook.

“We had a couple girls that made lots of improvements (last year), and we’re looking to make some improvements going forward this year,” he said. “We have some younger girls coming in, freshman, which is going to help quite a bit in certain events.”

Whitney Dean is expected to be a key contributor with her efforts in the high jump. Keisha Picklesimer will lead the Bobcats’ sprinting efforts, competing in the 100, 200 and some relay events, while Alexis Tracy’s cross country experience should translate well into the long distance events.

As long the Bobcats continue to improve, they should be able to surprise some teams toward the end of the season.

“To me, the biggest thing is making sure that they peak at the right time, when you get closer to regionals,” Kemler said. “That’s the biggest thing for me.”

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