The Swanton High School track and field teams are working toward improvement this spring after finishing in the bottom half of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League in 2015.
Julia Smith leads a group of 12 returnees for the Swanton girls track and field team and coach Gary Moore. Smith, a sophomore, placed fourth in the high jump at the Division II state meet last year, clearing 5-feet-4-inches. She was also 10th at the indoor state meet this winter.
Also among the returnees for the Bulldogs are Lauren O’Riordon, Sarah Yaney, Ally Hendricks, Haley Nelson, Julia Smith, Sidney Taylor, Alex Frost, Cyd Christensen, Heather Williams, Jordan Furko, Jennifer Hunt, and Karah Kohlman.
Hendricks was fifth in the 400 meter run at the NWOAL meet last year. Taylor was sixth in the discus at the league meet and Williams seventh in the shot put.
The Bulldogs will need to replace a trio of solid athletes in Alaura Fetterman, Nicole Schnabel, and Hailee Roeder.
A relatively large group of newcomers will try to do just that. The newcomers include Abby Arnold, Riley Gardner, Hannah Grabke, Shae Hallowell, Mikayla Rochelle, Allysa Westfall, Adriane Wood, Kiley Koback, Markaynah Lyczkowski, Noelle Vidak, and Bridget Hartlett, who won junior high league titles in the 100m and 200m last season.
“Our team has a good amount of speed this year and our field event athletes are strong,” said Moore. “We have a strong team that is willing to do what it takes to make the team better.”
One potential weakness for the team is distance events, where the squad is not as deep as coaches would like.
“The girls track team is still fairly young but with lots of talent,” Moore said. “This is, by far, the most talented group that the coaches have seen in the past few years.”
The Swanton boys also have a state high jumper leading the returnees. Junior Gunnar Oakes returns after winning the NWOAL title in the high jump and placing 11th at state in Division II.
Also back is Bryce McComb in the relays and long jump. He was sixth in the high jump and seventh in the long jump at last year’s league meet.
Also returning are Tanner Prentice in the sprints and Josh Bradish in distance events.
“We will rely on our veterans to carry us and hope to get better as the season progresses,” said coach Ryan Borer. “If all of the pieces are in place, we will be competitive in every meet.”
Lost to graduation is Colton Lucio, who was eighth in the discus at the league meet last season. Senior Robbie Gilsdorf, who suffered an injury late in the basketball season, placed in both the 800 and 1600 at the league meet last year.
Promising newcomers for the Bulldogs include Dylan Gilsdorf in middle distance and distance events and Brett Bettinger in distance events.
As for the league race, Borer said, “We will compete and see what happens, hoping to finish in the top half of the league.”
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010.