Both the Pettisville boys’ and girls’ track and field teams are looking to win another Buckeye Border Conference title in 2016. The boys are currently four-time conference champions, while the girls won their second straight title in 2015.
However, the boys team must replace eight letter winners, including several who participated in postseason tournaments.
While they have good numbers, 15 of their 27 participants are first-year runners.
“Young and inexperienced, and will have to step up and learn quickly,” said coach Tom Wagner. “We hope to gain the experience we need as the season progresses to be in the hunt for a league title.”
He says that Edon will be the team that could stop them from defending their title.
The Blackbirds must replace Ethan Brakefield, who took seventh at state in the 110m hurdles; Jakob Waidelich, who placed sixth in the pole vault and fifth in the long jump at the district tournament; and Nick Brink, who placed sixth in the 200m at the district.
Also gone to graduation are Jacob Hauter, Dustin Lucas, Dustin Nofziger, Kregg York, and Pedro Armas.
Returning for the Birds are Nathan Siller, Clay Waidelich, Seth Brakefield, Ben Gray, Levi Nofziger, Owen King, Jacob Myers, Jaret Rychener, and Isaac Sauder.
The girls return 16 letter winners from last year’s squad that, in addition to capturing the BBC crown, finished fourth at the district tournament and tied for 10th at the regional.
“We should be able to compete with most schools,” said Wagner.
The Birds only have to replace Mikala Avina and Jordyn Pursel. Avina was a member of the 4x800m relay team that placed 11th at state, while Pursel was a district champion and regional placer in the pole vault.
“Good numbers, good leadership, and a strong distance crew with experience at the state level,” said Wagner when talking about the strengths of the girls team.
Notable returnees are Alexa Leppelmeier, who placed 10th at state in the 1600m, and Nichole Foor who took ninth in the 3200m. Both were also on the 4×800 relay team that placed 11th at state.
The other member of that team is Elizabeth Sauder who has returned.
Other returnees include Hannah Herring, Rebekah Steele, Krystine Davis, Alayna Jones, Aubri Reinche, Fernanda Hernandez, Morgan Sauder, Tessa Waidelich, Kendal Pursel, Sarah Beck, Katie Hauter, Aylin Rosillo, and Sarah Herring.
“Young freshman will have to step up as the year progresses,” noted Wagner.
The veteran coach states that his girls “should be in the hunt for a BBC title along with Edon and Stryker.”
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010