Whitmer turned plenty of football games into track meets during the fall, using its speed to reach a Division I state semifinal.
The Panthers track team will lean heavily on some of that same talent in hopes of making their mark as one of the state’s top teams.
With a wealth of sprinters, Whitmer appears to be one of the top D-I teams in northwest Ohio.
“I think we’re pretty good. I like our chances,” Whitmer coach Greg Kubicki said.
Kubicki’s optimism for a great season in his 13th year at Whitmer is due to the team’s overall depth.
However, sprinters Jody Webb, Alonzo Lucas, Mark Meyers, Dareon Jones, Alex Palicki, Leroy Alexander, and Devon Miller — all football players — provide the nucleus for one of the deepest teams Kubicki has ever coached. The depth was improved when Alexander transferred from Springfield.
Palicki, Jones and Lucas are returners from the a state-qualifying 1600-meter relay team.
Wells is the Panthers’ top 100 and 200 sprinter, while Mark Meyers provides plenty of speed in the 110 and 300 hurdles. Both figure in with the group to give the Panthers great speed in the 400, 800 and 1600 relay events.
Kubicki has plenty of combinations and options to work with to determine relay teams.
“We’re pretty deep with sprinters, and Jody Webb is pretty good,” Kubicki said.
Whitmer junior Patrick Siebenaller is a returning state qualifier in the pole vault where he placed 12th at 14-feet last season.
Kubicki is also optimistic about the Panthers doing well in the throwing events, led by senior Andrew Maciolek, who has reached 158 feet in discus and 49 feet in the shot put. Kenny Hayes and Chris Wormley have also produced great results this spring.
However, the Panthers aren’t the only team in the area that entered the season with reasons for optimism.
Bowsher junior William Fink is among the area’s top middle distance runners after finishing 15th at state in the 1600 (4:32.11) last season.
Clay senior Noah Buehrer was a state qualifier in the 300 hurdles.
St. Francis’ Dan Lenart and Scott Lavoy, as well as St. John’s Greg Turissini, are top distance runners. Northview’s Mike Wallace and Southview’s William Schumacher rate among the area’s top distance competitors.
Fremont Ross junior Skylar Reffner is a top sprinter and was a member of a state-qualifying 800 relay team.
ND eyeing girls titles
Among the girls, Notre Dame is a team with a bevy of sprint talent to create lofty goals.
“We expect to challenge for the City League, district and regional and hopefully get a number of our kids back to state,” Notre Dame third-year coach Ray Strassner said.
He believes this is his most talented team to date. They’ve competed in eight meets this season, finishing first in seven and second in the other.
“We’re fairly deep in sprints and in distance,” Strassner said. “I think we’re a little stronger than we were last year.”
Notre Dame seniors Kaila Gardner (sprints) and Lauren Duncan (distance) lead a talented group. Gardner was a state qualifier in the 200 (25.53) last season and also ran on a 1600 relay team that placed fourth at state with a time of 3:51.26.
Juniors Jessika Matthews and Lexis Williams and sophomore Destinee Battle were also members of the 1600 relay team, as well as the state-qualifying 800 relay team. Freshman sprinter Chantalia Young has performed well early in the season and gives the Eagles added depth.
Duncan finished 14th in the 1600 (5:24.43) at the state meet.
However, the Eagles are expected to be pushed this season.
“Notre Dame continues to get better and will be highly competitive, and Anthony Wayne always has a good team,” Bowsher coach Solomon Branch said.
Bowsher seniors Janae Garrett, Jade Brown and Joy Franklin are experienced returners who were state qualifiers in the 400 and 800 relays. Brown proved to be one of the top 200 runners, finishing fourth at state with a time of 25.05.
Northview senior Mackenzie Reeves, junior Alison Work and sophomore Janelle Noe are returners who ran on a state qualifying 3200 relay team.
Work, one of the area’s top distance runners, also placed eighth in the 800 with a time of 2:14.86.
Anthony Wayne senior Brittany Green is looking to return to state in the long jump where she placed sixth with an effort of 17-9 1/4.
Findlay’s Kyesha Neal advanced to state a year ago as a sophomore in the shot put (38-0). Fremont Ross’ Ellen Silva looks to get back to state in the pole vault (10-0).
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