By PATRICK SLACK
The Little Falls boys track and field team won the inaugural Granite Ridge Conference (GRC) championship a year ago.
This spring, the girls team hopes to join them, as each squad returns a deep group from a year ago, when the Flyers boys also won its true team section.
Leading the Little Falls boys team will be an experienced group that features 14 seniors, including Austin Bjorge, Garrett Horejsi, Kyle Gapinski, John Brezinka, Isaiah Korver, Alex Kresha, Jordan Petrone, Nate Adamietz, Tyler Claseman, Eric Kiley, Seth Wester, Travis Spillum, Ridge Primus and Adam Maleski.
Returning state pole vault entrant junior Rachelle Le-Blanc highlights a deep list of returners for the Little Falls girls.
Seniors Emily Stark (throws) and Amber Hines (throws) and sophomore Hailey Claseman (triple jump) also will look to provide points in the field events for the Flyers.
On the track, senior Mattia Hendrickson, juniors Laura Moe and Maria Hauer and sophomore Heidi Moe are the top distance returners, with senior sprinters Noelle Kurowski, Trista Saulter, Chelsea Rutz and Kallie Baumgartner also coming back.
Looking to step in and contribute at the varsity level this season are freshman Melanie Dorn (sprints, jumps) and eighth-grader Kendal Hendrickson (pole vault, distance).
Graduating from last year’s team were Maggie Moe, Ingrid Floershiem and Carena Daniels.
Seniors on this year’s team include Baumgartner, Mattia Hendrickson, Hines, Stark, Kurowski, Katie Schulte, Saulter, Chelsea Rutz, Danielle Schelonka and Kayla Stock.
“We have a very balanced group this year,” Little Falls girls head coach Tara Schlagel said. “I expect us to be able to compete at a very high level in almost every event. We have a talented corps of seniors returning, as well as a well-rounded group of incoming freshmen.”
Coming off a fourth-place finish at the GRC meet a season ago, Schlagel looks for the Flyers to contend for the top spot this spring.
“The overall attitude of the team is very positive,” she said. “They work hard and understand the ‘team concept.’ I anticipate a lot of girls placing high in the section meet, hoping to send a few to the state meet in June.”
Little Falls was scheduled to compete in an indoor meet at St. Michael-Albertville, Friday.
The Flyers open their outdoor schedule at home, April 9.