The Wauseon boys track and field team has a strong foundation returning from a team that finished third in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League and was district runner-up.
“The success of this year’s squad really depends on how we can develop our underclassmen to perform,” said longtime 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.”
Returning letter winners for the Indians are Teren Garcia, Jonas Tester, Hunter Wasnich, Jack Callan, Austin Aeschliman, Robbie Crossland, Elijah Felzer, Braxton Goings, JD Hogan, Dane Leininger, Garrett Leininger, Kyle Moore, Carter Nofziger, Aidan Pena, Lukas Rotroff, Sam Smith Jr., Levi Tester and Zaden Torres.
They will also be adding newcomers Roger Adams, Jacob Aeschliman, Gavyn Bernier-Birtcher, Raja Burkholder, Logan Carroll, Kameron Dietrich, Christopher Flores-Lopez, Avery Fruchey, AJ King, Miles Kuntz, Landon O’Dell, Seth Richer, Shawn Robinson, Matt Shaw, Levi Short, Bryson Stump, Ian Westmeyer, and Logan Williams.
“We have a team of 50+ young men this year. So numbers are definitely a strength,” noted Allen. “We need to identify where each athlete fits best. I believe that we are very strong in the long jump with Jonas Tester a state qualifier in the event returning and the distance events with regional qualifiers Hunter Wasnich and Jack Callan returning. I truly believe that the sprint group is much improved with some veteran leadership and some newcomers who could play a major role.”
A notable departure from last year’s team is Braden Vernot, who capped his career with an eighth place finish at state in the 3200m. Also gone are Andrew Figgins, Noah Sauber, Layton Willson, Jaden Banister, Jackson Bauer, Zander Kesler, Andrew Perez and Jimmy Villarreal.
“We are incredibly young as a team. We lost a lot in the technical events and to be honest are still feeling the void left by the pandemic season two years ago. We grew a lot last season and need to continue to grow this year,” said Allen on potential challenges his team faces this season.
As mentioned, defining roles for his boys is a key this season. It will determine how productive they can be at the league meet at the end of the season.
“I see the NWOAL being very competitive once again this year,” Allen said. “I could see Bryan, Archbold, and Liberty Center all battling for the top spot. We just hope to be in contention this year and perform better on field events finals and prelim running day than we did last year. Patrick Henry, Swanton, Delta, and Evergreen will all have individuals and relays that could compete to win league championships.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.