The 2021 North Union boy’s track team is as follows: row one, from the left: row one, from the left: Omi Alison, Griffin Salyer, Brennan Burke, Tyler Fout, Caleb Isler, Coulter DeBoer and Henry Hayward. Rwo two, from the left: Eli Mishler, Zane Temple, Jacob Willis, Trey Bossaler, Cordell Nicholson, Ricky Weigand, Ayden Hawkins and Mitchell Marlette. Row three, from the left: head coach Cole Krawczyk, Isiah Radcliff, Ben Decker, Drue Duncan, Parker Brandt, Hudson Davis, Daniel Burggraff, William Popovich, Ethan Young and coach Penny Johnson. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The 2021 North Union girl’s track team is as follows: row one, from the left: Anna Crusey, Aunna Kassler, Kamryn Thompson, Evie Clark, Sadie Spriggs, Madalyn Brophy, Corajayne DeBoer, Katelyn Racy and Alexis Monroe. Row two, from the left: Chloe Hall, Ashley Hayward, Shelby Kruse, Kennedy Grubb, Meghan Fuller, Anna Beard, Lacetyn Riffle and Riley Heminger. Row three, from the left: head coach Cole Krawczyk, Audrey Benedict, Lily Leavitt, Kaylee Brestle, Kennedy Mcloed, Kendall Music, Kaylee Smith, Ashley Kohler, coach Zach Johnson, coach Penny Cunningham. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The North Union track teams will have strength in numbers this season.
The boys squad has 23 athletes, while the Lady Cats have increased their numbers to 25.
Where the Lady Cats, however, do lack is in their experience.
A total of 13 freshmen are on the 2019 roster.
A total of five sophomores are also on the roster that has not seen any high school competition since 2019 due to last year’s COVID shutdown.
That leaves head coach Cole Krawczyk with only a handful of runners with high school track experience.
However, he’s looking at the situation as a positive.
“With more than half of our girls being freshmen, it has given us the ability to let them try everything and spread them throughout different events,” he said. “What they lack in experience we believe will carry over into helping reload our program in the future.”
The Lady Cats do have some experience in distance and sprint events.
Ashlee Kohler, Ashley Hayward and Kaylee Smith have all returned to take on distance duties.
Meghan Fuller and Sadie Spriggs will have the most experience in sprint events.
The boys team will also have the added benefit of returning and recruiting numbers in sprint and throwing events (shot put and discus).
“Gaining numbers in those areas has helped take a once weak point of our team to its greatest strengths,” Krawczyk said.
Where the boys have shined over the past several seasons has been in the distance events.
Krawczyk believes his squad will still be strong in those events, but not as reliant on them in past years.
“We will still be reliant on our distance team, but we feel this year we truly don’t have to ride or die by them,” he said.
The Wildcats have a solid group of returning distance runners.
Parker Brandt, Danny Burgraff, Jacob Willis and Caleb Isler have all returned to take on the distance duties.
Krawczyk will be leaning on some of his newer talent to fill out the remaining events.
The real hurdle for both teams this season has been the lack of preparation for the season, according to Krawczyk.
“Not being able to have our indoor track team this year means most of our athletes haven’t run much before the season,” he said. “This has made training slower than normal, but we are getting through it and are expecting to have the team back on par for the first meet.”
The other factor that has been at play for all teams this year has been avoiding COVID.
“Our main goals this year is to keep everyone healthy,” Krawczyk said. “We also need to gain confidence in everything we do and be competitive not only within our league, but in state competition as well.”
To get to the top of the Central Buckeye Conference and beyond, Krawczyk believes the Wildcats will need to get through Benjamin Logan.
“This year, we believe our boys can make a run for a CBC title as well as a district title,” he said. “We have gained a lot of new talent on the boys side of things and believe that we have a very special team on our hands.”
The Lady Cats will also have to set their sights on the Lady Raiders.
“Benjamin Logan is always at the top of the CBC in track,” Krawczyk said. “We have the numbers to potentially make a good run.
“However, with some of our inexperience, I believe our team will finish in the middle of the CBC.”