Pettisville track and field should have a good season this year under the direction of longtime head coach Tom Wagner.
The girls squad will be looking for their fourth straight Buckeye Border Conference title, while the boys hope to improve on their fourth place finish in the league a year ago.
The girls have many athletes back with experience at the state tournament which should lead them to a successful 2017 campaign.
Those key returnees are Alexa Leppelmeier, who qualified for state in the 1600m, 3200m, and 4×800 meter relay; Elizabeth Sauder who made it in the 800m and 4×800 meter relay; and Nichole Foor and Morgan Leppelmeier in the 4×800 meter relay as well.
Other returning letter winners for the Blackbirds are Sarah Herring (sprints), Katie Hauter (throws), Morgan Sauder (high jump), Kendal Pursel (vault/sprints), Krystine Davis (sprints), Alayna Jones (sprints) and Tessa Waidelich (sprints/long jump).
“We look to be very competitive with schools our size,” said coach Wagner of his girls.
The girls lose just two letter winners from last year’s team. Gone are Hannah Herring and Rebekah Steele.
“We have good numbers (24) for our size school,” added Wagner. “We have great leadership, experience, and talent.”
However, Wagner would like to see his team become more well-rounded.
“We are strong in the distance, but pretty young in other areas,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Birds will likely be the favorite to claim the BBC title yet again.
While the boys may not be the team to beat in the BBC, they should not be overlooked. Their returning athletes will help them compete with the other teams.
“We have good leadership with our two seniors Gabe Beck and Ben Gray,” said Wagner.
They also did not lose any letter winners to graduation.
Along with Beck and Gray, other returning letter winners are Garett Young (sprints), Jaret Rychener (high jump/sprints), Evan Warner (distance), Wyatt Cerda (throws), Calvin Nofziger (hurdles/sprints), Zach Morrison (vault/distance), Drake Mckeever (throws), Isaac Sauder (sprints), Jacob Myers (distance), Josh Graber (sprints), Owen King (throws), Birch Baer (sprints), Caleb Nolander (distance) and Sam Rychener (high jump).
Their main weakness will be the amount of youth on the team.
Wagner has an idea of who the favorite for the BBC boys crown is.
“Montpelier looks very strong….and would be the team to beat,” he said. “We hope to gain in experience as the year progresses and make some noise.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010