MARINETTE - For Marinette Marine track and field, numbers are up, times are coming down and distances are impressive.

After the program bottomed out with just 32 participants last year, the turnout is up to 44 this spring.

"Our numbers are a little better, but we're still battling that now," Marine coach Bob Caelwaerts said. "We've got to get it up into the 60s. When we can get up to that point we'll contend for conference championships."

There was quality, if not quantity, on last year's Marine teams, and most of the standouts are back.

Three-time state qualifier Dustin Valind is back for his senior season after placing second at state in the discus last year.

"Expecting great things out of him," Caelwaerts said. "A hard-working kid and dedicated kid."

The University of South Dakota recruit is Marinette's discus recordholder and one of the state's top shot putters.

Seniors Dakota Vanidestine, Jaden Boivin and Zach Campbell ran on Marinette's 400-meter relay team which placed sixth at state.

"We have huge expectations for our sprint relays," Caelwaerts said.

Vanidestine is one of the fastest sprinters in school history.

"I've been teaching and coaching for 13 years, and I've never met or worked with a kid with a better work ethic than Dakota Vanidestine," Caelwaerts said. "When you've got talent and you have work ethic like that, good things happen."

Boivin also qualified for state last year in the pole vault. He has already cleared 12 feet, 9 inches indoors this spring.

Last season, Campbell burst onto the scene with blazing speed in his first year of track.

The new member of the sprint relays is sophomore Colton Dessart, who also competes in the jumps.

Hard-working senior Jared Swiatnicki has already been posting fast times in the 100 and 100 dashes this spring.

"Probably one of the nicest kids to coach," the coach said.

Senior Gage Raminger is a first-year track performer who is a quick study in the hurdle events.

"A great group of seniors, not only talent-wise, but work ethic-wise," Caelwaerts said.

The top junior is Austin Mahlik, a quality runner in the 800 and 1,600.

Among the promising young throwers are sophomores Payton Boyce and Jake Drees and freshman Brendan DeMille.

The Marine girls lost outstanding hurdler and jumper Erin Perkins, who moved to Winona, Minn., but they do have promising underclassmen and better numbers.

"We're not where we need to be but we're definitely taking strides in the right direction," according to Caelwaerts.

The seniors are thrower Hannah Blystone, who has returned from an ankle injury; sprinter Rachel Erickson and Maddie Rastall in the middle distances.

Junior Olivia Alloy is primarily a hurdler and jumper but is Marinette's jack-of-all-trades and a hard worker.

Sophomore Abby O'Neil is a talented sprinter and jumper.

Junior Kathy Smith and sophomores Margaret Michaels, Morgan Sislo and Brandy Valitchka run the distance events.

Freshman Lynsee Bohan made an immediate impact in the sprint events during the indoor season.

"Very natural and fluid athlete," the coach said.

Sophomores Megan Wagner, Emily Conley and Liz Lang are quality throwers who are pushing the 33-foot mark in the shot and the 100-foot mark in the discus.

John Sitek is back coaching Marinette's throwers. Jessica Scheer coaches distance runners, Bryan Lenzer coaches sprinters and relays and Luke Maulding coaches the pole vault. Caelwaerts coaches the hurdles and high jump events.

"If you work your tail off, you outwork your competition, good things will happen," Caelwaerts said. "We work toward improvements, we've already made improvements. We're just going to try and continue to build on those successes."