Spring sports teams start practicing with indoor sessions
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The high school sports calendar shows spring, but the field conditions show winter.
Official practice sessions for Grayling High School’s 2019 spring sports campaign began on Monday, March 11, and all of the teams had to start their preseasons with indoor sessions.
The baseball program has a new varsity coach: Nate Maury, who coached the junior varsity baseball squad last year. Maury is also the athletic director for Grayling High School. Travis Hulbert is the new JV baseball coach.
Maury said the varsity squad has a few starters coming back, but the line-up will look significantly different this season due to a large number of seniors from the team graduating last year.
“I’m excited. It’s a good group of kids,” Coach Maury said.
John Junttila, former JV coach and varsity assistant for Grayling High School softball, is the new varsity coach this year. Doug Paulus returns as coach of the GHS junior varsity softball team.
“John is another one who’s been an assistant, a new face but a familiar face,” Maury said. “They should have a pretty good season this year. They have enough to make a good season out of it, make a run in districts.”
“What’s going to be key for the program – numbers are a little low – some weeks some girls are going to be moving back and forth a little. I think the coaches will do a great job of managing that,” Maury said.
Of the eight schools in the Lake Michigan Conference, only four – including Grayling – have JV softball teams, but Maury said he’s been able to fill most of those empty spots in the schedule with nonconference doubleheaders.
“We’ve been able to fill most of those vacancies,” he said.
The season openers for both varsity baseball and varsity softball are slated for Thursday, April 4, at Ogemaw Heights. The squads have doubleheaders scheduled for Monday, April 8, at Harrison. The JV baseball and softball teams are slated to play at Ogemaw Heights on Thursday, April 4, and host the Harrison Hornets on Monday, April 8.
Cyndi Powers is back as coach of the varsity girls soccer team, and the program has improved numbers this year. Last year, the squad was short on players and had to play games with one or sometimes no substitutes.
“This year numbers are up for soccer. We’ll be running anywhere from 15 to 17 girls this year, which is nice. Last year she played with 12. They’re a good team; what hurt them last year was lack of numbers. They just didn’t have enough to sustain a whole game,” Maury said. “They’ll win more games just on the fact they can get kids breaks when they need it.”
The soccer team’s scheduled season is opener is slated for Monday, April 8, at home vs. Traverse City St. Francis. The squad has a home game slated for Wednesday, April 10, vs. Roscommon. Start time for both matches is 5 p.m.
Brad Duncan is back for his second year as coach of the varsity boys golf squad.
Last year, the golf team was low on overall numbers, but the squad has more players this year.
“We’ll have two teams, a JV and a varsity. It’s been a couple years since we’ve had enough for both,” Maury said.
Maury said a couple of the squad’s experienced golfers “have a chance to be state qualifiers.”
“He’s got some kids that are coming around,” Maury said. “We’ve got a chance for some individual conference honors.”
The golf team’s first meet for 2019 is slated for Wednesday, April 17, at the West Branch Country Club. The squad’s only home meet is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, at the Grayling Country Club.
Michelle Moore, one of the coaches for last year’s track program, is now the head coach for the team.
“Michelle knows everything about track. She’s got the kids working,” Maury said. “Numbers are up. Forty, forty-five kids for track. She’s almost doubled her numbers.”
Maury said the increased numbers will allow the track program to earn placements as a group, not just for individual events.
“Now we have a chance to score at some meets and place high,” Maury said. “We have six or seven kids who have a chance to be state qualifiers.”
The Vikings will open their 2019 season with the Chippewa Invitational, an indoor meet at Central Michigan University, on Wednesday, March 20. After spring break, the program’s first meet will be at East Jordan on Wednesday, April 10. The team’s only home meet is slated for April 23.
Maury reported solid overall numbers for the varsity girls tennis program. Mark Sloan returns as coach of the squad.
“Mark is a great coach. Well liked among our league. Great to work with. Very knowledgeable about the sport. He’s a great recruiter,” Maury said.
The tennis team’s season opener is slated for Monday, April 8, at Alpena. The squad’s home opener is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, vs. league opponents from Charlevoix and East Jordan.