The Pettisville track and field team should have much to look forward to this season. Their boys have a big roster, while the girls are returning some experience.
“This is going to be one of the largest boys team we have fielded in quite some time. Having the numbers to be able to put together relay teams will allow us to keep competitive in all events,” said mentor Gabe Jaramillo, who shares coaching responsibilities with Marty Rupp.
“We are looking forward to putting together an overall competitive team effort in the smaller meets, as well as in invitationals,” Jaramillo added of the boys.
The lone returning letter winner for the Blackbird boys is Heath Waidelich. But, they will also be adding newcomers Zakkai Kaufmann, Oliver Shaw, Aiden Paxson, Keegan Wyse, Chase Wilkie, Sam Haley, Zach McWatters, Alec Rychener, Zach Morris, Dane Waidelich, Cayden Jacoby, Joey Ripke, Griffin Eash, Dominic Heising, Blayn Meck, Christian Rodriguez, Jonah Harmon, Pete Rupp, Hunter Linton, and Braxton Huner.
A main loss for the Birds is Graeme Jacoby, who was a regional qualifier in shot put in 2019.
“Youth and inexperience at the varsity level will prove to be a challenge. With having last year’s season cancelled, the majority of our team will have little to no experience competing at this level,” Jaramillo said on weaknesses for the boys.
Nevertheless, despite the lack of experience, Jaramillo and his co-head coach Rupp will have their squad aiming high in the Buckeye Border Conference.
“We are hoping to keep pace in scoring at the league meet to put us among the top teams in our league,” he said.
The Pettisville coaching staff will take pride in watching the boys squad grow throughout the season.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to help our young team gain the experience and confidence for an overall successful season. As we learned last year, the season isn’t guaranteed, so we hope to have learned not to take for granted the time we have to grow in sport and in life,” explained Jaramillo.
The Pettisville girls, on the other hand, will have both numbers and experience to carry them this season.
“Strong numbers and some experience will aid us throughout the season,” said Jaramillo. “For the most part, we have a seasoned team that has the knowledge of what it takes to compete at the varsity level. Grace Schnitkey has prepared herself to have a very successful season. With the time and effort she has put in over the last couple years, she is looking to elevate herself within the ranks of Pettisville throwers.
“We are looking forward to having a very solid season with some great individual efforts.”
As mentioned, Schnitkey returns to build on her 2019 success as a thrower. That year, she advanced to the regional tournament in both the shot put and discus. She made the podium in the discus with a seventh place finish.
They also have back Ellie Wixom who was a regional qualifier in the pole vault in 2019. Other returning letter winners include Mayzie Clark, Clara Damman, Lyla Heising, Meleah Plank, and Karsen Pursel.
Plank and Pursel, along with Schnitkey, were valuable members of relay teams two seasons ago.
Newcomers for the girls are Maddie Beck, Lucy Myers, Ellie Grieser, Anne Stuber, Isabella Strauss, Kate Roth, Elise Hoylman, Lily Wiemken, Ella Hudspeath, Elisabeth Rochefort, Rylee Beltz, Kelly Wyse, Lauren Shumaker, Delana Damman, Amanda Grimm, Susan Ringler, Olivia Rossman, and Renee Hoylman.
The girls team loses Sarah Foor, Kelly Miller, Kate Stuber, and Emily Dimick. Foor, Miller and Stuber were key distance runners for the Birds in 2019.
“We do (have) a good number of youth that will come into the season inexperienced,” said Jaramillo.
Coach Jaramillo feels his girls can be a factor in the BBC race. “There will be some strong opposition among the league, but we are confident in our hope to compete for the league title,” he said.
The hunger is there for his sqaud heading into the season and they will try to use that as motivation.
“The one positive thing that I have seen regarding the circumstances of last season is a renewed sense of love for the sport. The athletes are eager and anxious to get out on the track and perform. This team is looking forward to the journey that this new season will set us on,” Jaramillo said.
Pettisville opens its season in Archbold this coming Tuesday, April 6 for a tri-meet also featuring fellow BBC foe North Central.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.