The Swanton track and field team has a chance to have a good season with some key returning athletes with experience at both the state and regional level.
On the girls side, the Bulldogs have 10 returning letter winners.
“We have a well rounded team (even if we are thin in all areas), but the talent for each position is really strong,” said Swanton girls track coach Gary Moore. “Those key positions should do fairly well at all levels of meets and invitationals. We, the coaches, are excited to see where all of the pieces of the puzzle will fit together.”
Their most notable returnee is junior Julia Smith, a two-time state placer in the high jump.
In 2016, Smith took fourth in the event. She also tied the school record in the high jump last season with a leap of 5’5”.
Also back is regional qualifier Hannah Grabke, who now holds the school record in the pole vault after clearing 9 feet.
Other returning letter winners are Allyssa Westfall, Bridget Harlett (regional qualifier), Sidney Taylor (regional qualifier), Ally Hendricks (regional qualifier), Haley Nelson (regional qualifier), Lauren O’Riordon and Alex Frost.
“We are returning some athletes that want to compete for the next level and qualify for state or place higher at state,” said Moore on the strengths of the girls team. “We also have some younger athletes that have some good talent that will aid in the veterans’ determination for the next level.”
Newcomers to the team are Bobbie Oberle, Ashlynn Waddell, Grace Oakes and Faith Fetterman. The newcomers and returning athletes will look to replace the void left by departed letter winners Shae Hallowell, Jordan Furko, Heather Williams and Noelle Vidak.
Coach Moore cites depth as being a weakness for his girls.
“We are extremely thin in all key positions,” he said.
He also sees two teams being ahead of the others in the NWOAL race.
“Archbold girls should be strong again this year and Wauseon is always in the hunt,” said Moore.
The Bulldog boys have four seniors returning to help lead the team in 2017.
Their most notable returnee is senior Gunnar Oakes. He placed eighth at state in the high jump last season.
Other senior letter winners back are Tanner Prentice (sprints), Jonny Shanks (long jump/relays), and Nick Koback (pole vault). Also returning are Anthony Howard (mid-distance), Dylan Gilsdorf (mid-distance/distance), Brett Bettinger (distance) and Brennan Spiess (sprints/relays).
A newcomer to watch for the Dogs is Bruce Vidak (PV/sprints).
“We are young but experienced, and will rely on our returning lettermen to guide us in hopes of competing well and getting better as the season progresses,” said head boys track coach Ryan Borer.
They will be replacing the likes of TJ Baker, Josh Bradish, Robbie Gilsdorf and Bryce McComb.
Swanton begins the season Tuesday with a quad at Pettisville featuring the Blackbirds, Archbold and North Central beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010