Look for the Wauseon track and field team to move in a positive direction as the 2021 season progresses.
For the boys team, a strength in numbers should prove beneficial.
“The success of this year’s squad really depends on how we can develop our underclassmen to perform,” said veteran boys head coach Joe Allen. “I believe that we have some talent but we will have to work to find the best fit for our team. We are excited about our youth and are looking forward to being able to compete. There will be some major growth this year.”
Notable returnees for the Indians’ boys team include Andrew Figgins, Noah Sauber, Braden Vernot (regional qualifier), Layton Willson, Teren Garcia, Jonas Tester and Hunter Wasnich.
They will also be adding newcomers Xander Ankney, Robby Crossland, Elijah Felzer, Felipe Garcia, Aiden Goings, Jared Lange, Dane Leininger, Garrett Leininger, Andrew Malone, Kaden Milliman, Logan Poorman, Brad Rose, Levi Tester and Braxton Wittenmeyer.
“We have a team of 50+ young men this year. So numbers are definitely a strength. We need to identify where each athlete fits best. I believe that we are very strong in the long jump and the distance events,” said Allen on strengths for the team.
The newcomers will have to fill the void left by 12 departed letter winners. Gone are Jonah Figgins, J.T. Hutchinson, Owen King, Jordan Lange, Alex Moore, Greg Moore, Andrew Pile, Andon Raker, Holden Serres, Sammy Sosa, Noah Tester and Damian Veith.
“We are incredibly young as a team. We are only returning 7 letterwinners. Obviously the pandemic played a role in this. We lost a lot in the technical events and unfortunately lost some of the chance to have seniors from last year pass knowledge to a younger generation of athletes. We need to have a lot of growth as a team this year,” said Allen on potential weaknesses.
With being so young, Allen knows competing for an NWOAL title will be difficult. He expects a few teams to stand out above the rest.
“I see the NWOAL being very competitive once again this year. I could see Bryan, Archbold, and Liberty Center all battling for the top spot. We just hope to be in contention this year because of how much we lost from last year’s team. Patrick Henry, Swanton, Delta, and Evergreen will all have individuals and relays that could compete to win league championships,” Allen said.
The girls squad returns a bevy of upperclassmen to help the transition from not having a 2020 season.
“I feel that we have a solid base of athletes and we will work very hard to train and be ready to compete in another competitive track and field season. Northwest Ohio has a great deal of very talented programs and individuals. We are looking forward to the season,” said head girls coach Mike Colon.
The Indians are returning seniors Josie Callan, Emily Parker, and Leanne Pownall. Also back are juniors Leah Beltran, Maggie Duden, Marie Hutchinson, Serena Mathews, and Eva Mennetti.
Both Duden and Mathews were each members of the 4x800m relay team that in 2019 placed 11th at the D-II regional.
“We have a fantastic group of young ladies who are excited to compete,” said Colon. “We are looking forward to our returning seniors and juniors leading by example and driving the team to a successful season. We are looking for underclassmen continuing to work hard to fill in open areas on the team.
Coach Colon, like Allen, knows his squad will have to do a lot of fine-tuning throughout the season to get them peaking heading into postseason tournaments.
“With the loss of the 2020 season we will have some rebuilding to do and some techniques to re-teach and refine. Our team is young and will likely continue to strengthen as the season progresses,” said the girls coach. “Our roster is a little thinner than previous seasons, so we will have to be strategic as we work through meet lineups. The girls on the team are excited for the season.”
If able to make the necessary improvements throughout the season, Wauseon hopes to make its presence felt at the Northwest Ohio Athletic League meet in May.
“The NWOAL is full of tough competition, as always,” Colon said. “There is no doubt that several teams will stand out as leaders in the league, though all of the schools have some very skilled athletes. We will compete in the league with the best of them. I will look to my girls to make their presence known as the season progresses and we will as always bring our best. I think the girls as a team will be able to compete at the level that the Wauseon track and field program has become accustomed.”
Wauseon opened the season last Saturday at the Napoleon Early Bird Invitational. They are next in action on Tuesday, April 6 when they are at Tinora for a tri-meet with the Rams and Evergreen.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.