The Wadena-Deer Creek track team is expecting to have a competitive season this year, with a number of athletes returning as well as younger members looking to step into a varsity role.

According to head coach Marc Reynolds, the girls team has many returning athletes from 2020. "We have a nice mixture of veterans who have been involved with track and field for three or four years and some good youth numbers."

State place winner Mikaela Malone and state cross country place winner Kira Sweeney are both back for their senior seasons. "Those two will bookend our running events, with Malone in the sprints and jumps and Sweeney in the distance events," Reynolds said.

Others returning this season include Lauryn Gravelle in the throwing events, Emma Mehl, Ema Ries, and Johanna Brunsberg in the distance events, Salma Pardo in the sprints, Maddie Packer in the hurdles and sprints, and Ellie Hale in the sprints, vaulting, and throwing.

Reynolds also talked about the younger talent. "We have a great group of younger athletes that we are excited to see compete and how they will impact the team," he said. "We should have a competitive team in the Park Region Conference and should fight for those top few spots in the conference."

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The boys team also has a number of athletes with varsity experience returning for the season. Seniors Cole Dunker and Aiden Larson will lead a group of sprinters, hurdlers, and jumpers. Additionally, Brady Domier returns in pole vault and sprinting events, and junior Eric Malone will lead the team in distance events.

Others returning with varsity experience include Charlie Bushinger, Kaden Peterson, Teshe Loer, D'Andre Hammond, Nick Briggs, Noah Johnson, Lyrik Haug, and MJ Lunde, who will participate in the sprints, jumps, and pole vault. Lane Hoefs and newcomer Bjorn Brunberg will participate in middle distance and distance events and Dylan Wirth in throwing events.

"Like the girls, we have solid numbers in our junior high, ninth and 10th grades, and we will be looking to some of these younger kids to step into some new roles," Reynolds said. "We have some big goals for the end of the season with kids looking to qualify for the state meet and break school records.

The Wolverines first meet is Thursday, April 8, at 4 p.m. at Battle Lake High School.