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Come late in a college track season, it's not uncommon for athletes to be running on empty.

For the University of Mary track and field team, that's not the case at all.

With the weather-induced late start to the outdoor season, the Marauders remain hungry for meets, head coach Dennis Newell said. They get a big one this weekend when the NSIC Outdoor Championships begin Friday in Winona, Minn.

"One of our kids made the comment the other day that it doesn't feel like we even had an outdoor season," Newell said. "Sometimes you get to this point where classes are out, kids are getting antsy to go home for the summer, maybe they're a little worn down and going on fumes. Right now, there's a totally different vibe.

"Our kids are healthy, hungry and ready to compete. They have plenty left in the tank."

While abbreviated, the Marauders have still produced plenty of promising results during the outdoor campaign. All this followed an indoor season where the U-Mary women won a Northern Sun title and the men earned a strong runner-up finish.

When it's all said and done on Saturday in Winona, the Marauders could have upwards of 15 athletes qualified for nationals later this month in Charlotte, N.C. But before that, they'd like to collect some more hardware.

Newell pegged MSU Mankato as the team to beat in both divisions, with the Maverick men a prohibitive favorite. On the women's side, the Marauders have already proven they're capable of rising to the occasion.

"You need to have quality athletes and quality performances and we certainly have that, but it's not always the best team that wins," Newell said. "It's the team that performs the best that given weekend."

With senior All-Americans Lexie Zeis (distance runs) and Tonie-Ann Pandohie, the Marauders have one of the premier 1-2 punches in the country. Zeis is having an all-time year, and career, already earning All-American honors in cross country and indoor track.

The Marauders also have quality depth to match their stars at the top.

Jaiden Schuette (middle distances), Abby Zastrow (sprints, jumps), Taylor Hestekin (middle distances) and Bree Erickson (distance) all are capable of significant point production.

"We have eight or nine women that can do damage, potentially even more," Newell said. "That's our bread and butter."

For the men, junior Luxon Glor has been one of the best athletes in NCAA Division II all season. Glor's a contender in the long jump and sprints.

Derek Myers is already qualified for nationals in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter run and is a bona fide threat for conference titles in both.

Hurdler Josh Lamers has made a major impact in his debut season. The transfer from LSU has already won three weekly NSIC awards.

"Mankato is the clear-cut favorite, but then you have Augustana, us, Sioux Falls, Wayne State that could probably finish anywhere from second to fifth," Newell said. "I know our guys will go and give us a great effort, they'll compete. Then we'll see where that puts us at the end of the meet."

Bad weather is forecasted for southeastern Minnesota with all options on the table for getting the meet in. No matter where or when they're told to line up, Newell's team will be there.

"I think we're on course for the goals we've set for our teams," Newell said. "We're getting on the bus at 6 a.m. Thursday morning and we're chomping at the bit."

Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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Sports Editor