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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Molly Birch
Molly Birch

My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

TIMES ARE CHANGING — FAFSA announced changes to its filing system in February.
Editorial — The "better" FAFSA
North Wind Editorial Board February 27, 2024

Track jumps into indoor season

Very few sports require the commitment to two full seasons every year, but the women of NMU’s track and field team no longer think much of it. Having begun practices in mid-September and potentially competing through late May, the track squad faces one of the longest training stretches of any team at NMU.

Despite the work load, head coach Tom Barnes is excited by what the athletes have shown so far.

“I’m really happy with this team as far as great attitudes to have,” said Barnes. “If they’ve got those kinds of attitudes they’re going to achieve a lot.”

His squad certainly achieved a lot last year, as the team set nine indoor season school records and 11 in the outdoor season.

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This year, many members of that team return and Barnes is looking to these veterans and some newcomers for what he said will be a bright and successful season.

First and foremost on the list of returnees is Leslie Luehmann.

Luehmann returns to the team after winning the GLIAC Heptathlon competition and an 11th place finish at the outdoor national championship. Although she has exhausted her four years of eligibility for the NCAA indoor season, Luehmann has one last year of outdoor competition remaining in her career and will train with NMU throughout the indoor season.

Krista Squiers is another athlete who will be a strong contender for a national qualification. A specialist in the weight throw event, Squiers placed 14th at last year’s GLIAC indoor championship meet, with a throw of 14.22 meters. She has already shown enormous improvement from last season, having added nearly two meters to that distance at the first indoor meet this season.

The throw broke the NMU program record, and placed her on the NCAA provisional qualifier list, potentially putting her in the running for a qualifying spot. Barnes is hopeful that Squiers will meet the automatic qualifier requirements.

“She should get a little better as the season goes on,” Barnes said. “She’s on that course right now.”

Other returning field event specialists are Karin Diebold (pole vault) and Angela Leckson (shot put), who both set school records at their respective events last indoor season. Diebold looks to improve on her 9th place finish at last year’s GLIAC championship.

Sophomore Leckson also competes for the NMU women’s basketball team, and will be unable to practice with the track team until the very end of the season. Regardless, Barnes looks for her to be a strong contributor.

Barnes sprinting squad was left with some large holes after the departures of record holders Danielle St. Onge, Stephanie Boyer and Kaylee Laakso.

Fortunately, several proven veterans are returning to fill their shoes. Brittney Balbierz, Jessica Trotochaud and Natalie Bertucci are all back for another season.

Both Balbierz and Trotochaud were members of last year’s 7th place 4 x 400-meter relay team at the GLIAC championship.

At the GLIAC meet Bertucci, a hurdler and jumping specialist, placed 8th on her way to a school record-setting performance in the 55-meter hurdles. She also shares the record in the high jump. Both St. Onge and Boyer are returning to assist the team with practices.

Finally, the team is completed by a crew of distance runners, most of whom began their track season fresh after a successful cross-country campaign. Michelle Bisig, Kristen Schulz, Bibiane Mahy and Jennifer Wiedmeyer all look to build on the successes of last year. Due to the nature and structuring of the track season immediately following cross country, Barnes is preparing his distance runners to peak near the end of outdoor season, but still looks for them to contribute regularly indoors.

He went on to say that freshmen distance runners Nora Kiilunen, Becca Holmquist and Stephanie Enderby have shown great promise during the cross country season, and hopes their success continues into the track season.

Despite the GLIAC being one of the most competitive conferences in the country, Barnes is extremely optimistic in his expectations for the upcoming season.

“[The GLIAC] is the best league in the country for track and field. Every year I say we want to get into fifth place. I’m not making excuses, but the top five or six schools ahead of us last year were ranked (in the nation),” he said. “But this year I realistically think we could be in fifth place.”

The team has shown already that it has the talent to compete at a high level.

At the only meet of the season thus far, the team put on a strong showing that included two broken school records and several other near record-setting performances.

Barnes went on to explain that the team enjoys being in such a strong conference because it forces the athletes to train and compete at a higher level.

“Our goal this year is to be the best conditioned team in the league,” Barnes said. “They’re working real hard, they have great attitudes.”

With one successful meet in the record books, the Wildcats will soon have further opportunities to prove themselves. Up next on the schedule is the LSSU Classic, to be held Jan. 17 in Sault Ste. Marie. The team will then return home for the Northern Challenge on Jan. 31.

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