BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State women’s track team is set to open its 2013 season this weekend when it will host the 24th Annual Super 8 Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Gillett Recreation-Fitness Center.
The Beavers have an increase in numbers this year and will look to their depth to guide them this season. The BSU women currently have 40 members on this season’s roster. The Beavers had just 26 on last year’s squad.
“We should have 30-plus girls on the team,” Bemidji State head coach Craig Hougen said. “Some are still trying to find out what events are right for them at the college level.”
Hougen believes the depth will show and be most important in the relay events.
“The advantage is going to come in play for the team events, like the relays,” he said. “We should be very competitive. Instead of searching for a fourth runner, we now have five or six girls who are able to run. It is making our practices more competitive and by far better.”
BSU has plenty of talent returning from last season to go with its 23 newcomers on the roster.
“We still have Ashley Larva, who has school records in the hurdles,” Haugen said. “She is going to do very well for us.”
Larva, a senior from Floodwood, is one of the three senior captains. The other captains are Tina Larson and Taylor Sautbine.
Sautbine holds a school record in the 100 meter dash and was a part of school record relay teams last season. Larson led the cross country team in the fall and will be one of the top middle-distance runners on the track.
“All three of these girls are seniors and captains,” Hougen said of Larva, Sautbine and Larson. “These girls coming back are all going to do a great job for us.”
Of the 23 newcomers on the team this year, 18 of them are freshman.
But Hougen says one of the most notable “newcomers” is Jessica Cagle, who missed all of last season with an injury.
“She was here last year, but she was hurt,” Haugen said of Cagle. “She is going to be a good thrower for us.”
Cagle, a junior from Grand Rapids and former state champion, will anchor a strong corps of throwers that includes junior Gina Padrnos and sophomore Denna Hegg.
Last weekend, the Beavers hosted their annual Alumni Meet, where the women on the team competed with former athletes. This weekend, the Beavers will host eight schools in a competitive field.
“This weekend I am looking for the girls to be more competitive,” Hougen said. “Last weekend we had our Alumni Tournament that was filled with fun and laughter. Now, I am looking for us to step it up.”
This weekend’s tournament is a two-day event that begins at 5 p.m. Friday. Action will resume at 3 p.m. Saturday and will go throughout Saturday evening.
“There are eight schools coming in, including U-Mary who is one of the best teams in the entire nation,” Hougen said. “It is going to a competitive meet; hopefully we can do well and maybe win a couple of events.”
This weekend’s meet will mark the beginning of the four-month season. The indoor season runs through February before the outdoor season starts in April.
“Over the length of the season, our goal is to go from the back of the conference to closer to the middle of the pack,” Hougen said. “I think that will happen.”