By PATRICK SLACK
The Little Falls boys and girls track teams each have their sights set on claiming titles at the inaugural Granite Ridge Conference (GRC) meet this spring.
The Flyers will have the home edge, hosting the event May 15.
Leading the way will be a strong contingent of returners on both sides.
The boys team brings back seniors Derek Toso (sprints, jumps), Preston Zimny (distance) and Luke Pennington (hurdles), while the girls squad features returning sophomore state pole vaulter Rachelle LeBlanc and junior Amber Hines (shot put, discus).
Little Falls boys head coach Jeff Massmann said that in addition to competing for the GRC crown, the Flyers have a chance to send multiple individuals to the state meet.
Further seniors looking to help provide points for the Flyers include Ryan Ahrens, Jared Rickert, Brandon Zapzalka, Brent Berger and Carlos Ochoa.
LeBlanc placed 16th at last year’s state meet, clearing a height of 10-feet, 6-inches, and won the Central Lakes Conference title.
Hines, a key point-scorer in the two throwing events a year ago, highlights a deep group of juniors for Little Falls.
Girls head coach Tara Schlagel also expects several newcomers to provide depth to the roster.
“There is a solid group of incoming freshmen joining the team this season,” Schlagel said. “I expect them to play a significant role in contributing to the team in all areas, especially in the distance, sprinting and jumping events.”
Graduating from last year’s team were Manon Gammon-Deering, Jennifer Mielke, Kaitlyn Emerson, Alyssa Spillum and Stephanie Stumpf.
Seniors on this year’s team are Maggie Moe and Ingrid Floersheim.
“I have high expectations for this season,” Schlagel said. “Along with the two seniors, the solid group of 15 juniors will lead the team with their experience and past success. There are also high expectations put on the freshmen joining the team this season.”
Little Falls is scheduled to open the season with an indoor meet at Foley, Saturday, March 31.
The Flyers’ first home meet is scheduled for April 10 against Foley and St. Cloud Cathedral.