Lakeridge boys track hopeful with greater participation
The Lakeridge boys track team is ready to take its shot.
The Pacers are ready to take their shot at competition, at improvement and at victory.
Last year, Lakeridge was one of the Three Rivers League's best teams, finishing fourth at the TRL district meet and sending three athletes on to the Class 6A state meet.
This year, Lakeridge is ready to build on that, and to that end, has built its numbers to 84 athletes — 45 of them newcomers to the program.
"In track and field, varsity changes throughout the season as athletes improve," said Pacers coach Joe Schloetter, who returns to the head coaching job he previously held from 2008-15 (he's also coached hurdles continuously since the 2006 season). "Forty-five of the guys are new to the program this year so there will most likely be a large improvement from those who are learning the sport and program."
While the Pacers must deal with the graduation loss of sprinters Cameron Russell and Josh Robins — Robins also won the TRL high jump and placed fifth at state — they have lots of talented returners back in the fold.
Among the returning athletes who participated in last year's district meet (with their places listed in parentheses) are: sophomore Giuliani Roberti in the 100 (seventh) and 200 (eighth); junior Andre Martinez in the 100, 200 (sixth) and long jump; senior Shon Martin in the 800 (fifth); senior Jack Chapman in the 800 (sixth); senior Henry Potter in the 1,500 (third); sophomore Matthew Ragsdale in the 3,000 (21st); junior Pierce Boucher in the high hurdles and intermediate hurdles (seventh); sophomore T.J. Jakmauh in the shot put (12th) and discus (second, and later, ninth at state); junior Neil McCarthy in the discus (14th); senior Cort Gerot in the javelin (11th); junior Jared Bartunek in the javelin (17th); junior Noa Bothe in the high jump (eighth); senior Cory Taylor in the long jump (fourth); and junior Brendan Chiang in the triple jump (eighth).
While those athletes helped carry the load last year, the Pacers hope that many others will make their presence felt this season.
"We will not know who are the best athletes until the final meet of the season," Schloetter said. "Therefore, we focus on continuing to grow and improve throughout the season so that we can be sure of our preparation and execute the best we can during the district meet.
"My hope would be that many of those new to the program would be in our top one or two in each event. ... That is how a successful program is run."
In the team's early-season results, additional athletes who have stepped up are: sophomore Jalen John in the 100 and 200; senior Colin Pinkerton, and freshmen Tuli Freeman and Gavin Abbott in the 400; sophomore Aidan Strealy in the 800; sophomore Paul Corso in the 1,500; junior Evan Wheeler in the 1,500 and 3,000; sophomore Luke Neville in the high hurdles; senior Jake Fedrizzi in the high jump and long jump; and senior Cooper McIntosh-Nelson in the triple jump.
"My only interest is helping our athletes grow and improve as much as they can by the end of the season," Schloetter added. "We don't play defense … so it doesn't make much sense to spend a whole lot of time worrying about what (other teams) might do when we could spend our time trying to make ourselves better."