Bear River's Kendal Nielsen does the triple jump at Nevada Union last year. Photo by: John Hart

Nielsen, a long jumper, triple jumper and sprinter, and Mitchell, a distance runner, frequently find themselves among the top competitors at any meet.

Last year, Mitchell finished eighth in the 1,600-meter run at the Sac-Joaquin Section Track & Field Masters Meet.

Nielsen missed out on postseason action because of a late-season right foot strain. But she recovered to finish second in the triple jump at the Junior Olympic Regional Qualifier meet in Modesto last July.

“We have a nice, strong girls program,” said Bruin track coach Chris Davis.

As a whole, Bear River has about 35 athletes on the team, which includes more girls than boys, he said.

The Bruin track team also is bolstered by C.J. Olsen in sprint, middle distance and jumping events, and Jordan Halleib and Nick Mertens both in distance events, Davis said.

In the league, Colfax is always good and Lincoln “can definitely have some strong competitors,” Davis said.

The girls have a chance of beating Colfax in a meet, Davis said. But team competition can be tough for both boys and girls because teams such as Placer have “a lot of kids” out for track and even if top Bruin performers do well, Placer would have more athletes to earn team points, he added.

“I'm very pleased with this group of kids,” Davis said. “They're very dedicated and I think it will show up in their performances.”

So far, the weather has been one of the Bruins toughest foes, making practices difficult and canceling last Friday's Union Mine meet.

“We've been on the track maybe three or four times since Feb. 10,” Davis said earlier this week as sunshine and drier weather began to turn the tide.

Nevada Union Miners

After three head coaches in the last four years and dwindling numbers of students participating in track, new co-head coach Jeff Dellis sought to turn the tide.

With the 2011 season in its infancy, it's clear interest in the program has been revitalized.

Last year, there were 28-30 athletes and now there's 85.

“In the future, I hope we can continue to build on that,” Dellis said.

Before the season started, Dellis put a letter to the editor in The Union asking for anybody with track experience to help him out. Dick Hotchkiss, an NU track coach from the '70s and '80s, and Tim Kays, an NU track coach in the '60s, '70s and '80s, responded and have volunteered their time to help.

Dellis, working with co-head coach Jamie Wise, is looking for Brock Kraus, Calynn Stanford, Natalie Migliozzi, Dominic Onak, Cheyenne Toney and Dominic Castro-Wehr as likely standouts this season.

He'll need them all at their best to compete in the consistently tough Sierra Foothill League.

“Across the board, it's an incredibly well-coached league and everybody is very competitive,” Dellis said. “I'm not sure there is a weak link.”

Del Oro, one of the typical league powerhouses, has about 150 athletes out for track, Dellis said. Granite Bay has a strong program with between 125-150 athletes as well, he added.

But despite the challenge of the conference season, Dellis said he's proud of the way his team has responded to the new coaches and their willingness to try new events.

To contact Sports Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gmoberly@theunion.com or call 477-4234.