Panthers look to retain EWC titles

¦ Young athletes crucial for boys, girls teams
by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


RACHAEL CECKA (above) is a key returning athlete in the discus (shown last year) and high jump for the Plymouth girls track team this season. RACHAEL CECKA (above) is a key returning athlete in the discus (shown last year) and high jump for the Plymouth girls track team this season. PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth boys and girls track teams graduated many standouts off last year’s Eastern Wisconsin Conference championship squads but have several promising, young athletes who should bolster the Panthers’ lineups this season.

The girls were Division 1 state runners-up last season – the highest state finish in school history – and won their fifth straight EWC title. The boys earned their second consecutive league title.

GIRLS PREVIEW

The Panthers have 13 returning letter winners on their 52-member squad, including two 2012 state participants in senior Rachael Cecka in the high jump and senior Megan Holec who competed in the 1,600-meter relay. Cecka was a regional champion in the high jump and Holec ran on the winning 1,600 relay at the EWC Meet last year.


JORDAN MUELLER (below), pictured last year, is expected to have a strong season in the shot put for the Plymouth boys track team. — Review file photos JORDAN MUELLER (below), pictured last year, is expected to have a strong season in the shot put for the Plymouth boys track team. — Review file photos Cecka went 5-7 in the high jump at Friday’s Manitowoc Lincoln Invitational which broke her own school record. She is also a strong discus performer. Holec is one of the Panthers’ top middledistance runners.

Other top returning athletes, according to PHS head coach Jay Grosshuesch, include: senior Becky Schwartz and junior Taylor Meyer in the shot put and discus throws; junior Elizabeth Raeder, sprints and pole vault; and sophomores Brooke Koehn, Abby Payne and Julia Novotny, distance events. Raeder is the defending EWC pole vault champion.

“Our numbers on the girls team are down a bit, with 52 athletes and only 13 returning letter winners. We also graduated some very big ‘point-getters’ who will be hard to replace,” said Grosshuesch who’s in his 16th season as the Panther head coach.

“We definitely have our work cut out for us if we are to continue to compete at a high level.”

Among the key athletes who graduated were Niki Rhyan and Haley Johnson who won state gold medals in the 800 and 3,200 races last season. Also gone is Jenni Rathsack who placed fifth in the state 100 and 200 dashes, and won the EWC 100, 200 and 400 events for the third straight time a year ago.

“We also have a small batch of seniors and juniors, so more so than other years we will have to rely on our younger kids to round out a successful team,” said Grosshuesch.

He said the following team members are the top prospects among the newcomers: freshman distance runners Sophie Bolich and Karly Knaus, freshman sprinter Morgan Lisowe and freshman thrower Kyra Kronberg.

“We have had some good earlyseason practices and our athletes are working hard, so we are hopeful that we can be a strong team by the end of the season,” said the coach.

“Our goal as a team is to have each individual improve in her respective event, and if this happens, team successes will follow.

“Our strength is probably our distance group which is young but has some quality runners. Julia Novotny, Abby Payne and Brooke Koehn all competed well last year and had strong cross country seasons. They will be joined by freshmen Sophie Bolich and Karly Knaus which will make this a deep part of our squad.”

Novotny, Payne, Koehn, Bolich and Knaus were members of the Panthers’ state cross country squad last fall.

“The hurdles is also an area where we have some good returning athletes. Maggie Albert, Mary Albert and Jonell Klopf are looking to build on their good seasons a year ago,” Grosshuesch noted.

“We will be young and not real deep in the sprints and mid-distance. We will also look for help from Chloe Kastelic, Katy Boening and Nikki Reil in these events. In the field events we have a couple of good athletes but we need to develop some depth to be more competitive.

“Overall, we have to improve quite a bit in the next 11 weeks. We have the athletes and the work ethic to do it, we just need to stay focused and get great effort out of all 52 girls each and every day, and we will be happy with our season.”

Grosshuesch sized up the conference competition.

“I expect Sheboygan Falls and Two Rivers to be strong, especially Falls. With some significant help from our young group, we may be able to get in their league,” he said.

Falls finished a distant second to PHS in the 2012 EWC championships.

BOYS PREVIEW

The squad has 16 returning letter winners and a large freshman class of 23 members. Grosshuesch is relying on the freshman group to contribute team points.

“Our large team of 62 athletes should help us find some quality runners and field event people,” he said.

“The boys team graduated several athletes that scored major points in our big meets last year, so we have some major holes to fill. Our athletes have been showing us some hard work early in the season, so we are hopeful we can mold together to make a quality team by May.”

Grosshuesch said the top returning athletes include: senior Dylan Tripoli in the sprints and jumps; senior Eric Roberts, sprints and pole vault; senior Jordan Mueller and junior Westley Meinnert, throws; senior Mitch Tournour and junior Andrew Staehling, mid-distance; seniors Andrew Meyer and Eric Leinen and junior Zach Holden, hurdles; senior Alex Dykstra and Tom Jankowski, distance; and sophomore Evan Sebranek, sprints.

Sebranek and Tripoli were members of the EWC champion 400 relay last season. Roberts was the conference runner-up in the pole vault. Tripoli and Mueller finished third in the triple jump and shot put, respectively, in the EWC Meet.

“We do have some strong leaders in our senior class which should help to bring our team along nicely,” Grosshuesch said.

“Like the girls team, our main goal is to have each boy work hard and improve as an individual. If that happens, our team will get better and we will end the season satisfied with our results.”

The coach said the top prospects among the newcomers are senior distance runner Cody Molkenthine and freshman sprinter and jumper Sam Staehling.

“I am not sure if we have one area of our team that is a lot stronger than another. We have decent depth in a lot of areas,” the coach pointed out.

“The key for us will be to get our good athletes to become very good or great, so we can score some big points.

“Our hurdles area boasts three quality returners in Andrew Meyer, Eric Leinen ad Zach Holden. Our sprint group will enjoy the talents of Dylan Tripoli, Eric Roberts and Evan Sebranek.

“Our mid-distance group will be led by Mitch Tourour, Andrew Staehling, Eric Majerus and Brent Theil. This group has the potential to give us some key points,” Grosshuesch noted.

“Our distance group is going to be solid with Alex Dykstra, Tom Jankowski and Chandler Hau leading the way. Cody Molkenthine and Paul Francis will hopefully add to our depth in this area.

“In the throws, Jordan Mueller and Westley Meinnert will be counted on to get us some solid finishers. In the jumps, we expect Dylan to continue to excel in the triple jump. Eric Roberts is coming off another quality year in the pole vault and we look for him to be even better this year.

“All of these boys are good at their event, but we really need for many of them to get to the next level and then another batch of them can add some quality depth for us. We really have an unknown commodity when it comes to our second or third option in several events,” the coach said.

“Our team success will depend on how strong our No. 1 athlete in each event can be and then how well our second tier guys develop. We have what looks like some talented freshmen, so hopefully we can get some help from them this season.”

Grosshuesch expects Waupun, Kiel and Two Rivers to be strong in the EWC. Kiel finished second in last year’s league meet – only two points behind PHS.

“We hope we can be in that group and try to extend our conference streak to a third consecutive title,” he said.

PLYMOUTH OUTDOOR
TRACK SCHEDULE
Boys and Girls
April 9 – Camp., Kew. & Kiel, here
April 16 – EWC Relays, @ S. Falls
April 23 – Kew., TR & Waupun, @ TR
April 26 – @ Neenah Invitational
April 30 – Camp., Sheb. Falls & Waup.,
@ Camp.
May 3 – Vanderpan Invite, @ S. Falls
May 7 – Camp., NH & S. Falls, here
May 9 – JV Invitational, here
May 14 – EWC Meet, here
May 16 – EWC Fr./Soph. Meet, @ NH
May 20 – Regional, @ Neenah
May 23 – Sectional, @ Oshkosh North
May 31 – State Meet, @ UW-La Crosse
June 1 – State Meet, @ UW-La Crosse

PLYMOUTH TRACK ROSTERS

Boys

Seniors – *Alex Dykstra, Cormick Hnlicka, *Eric Leinen, *Andrew Meyer, Cody Molkenthine, *Jordan Mueller, Mitch Petrie, Fred Phelps, Luke Phillips, *Eric Roberts, *Mitch Tournour and *Dylan Tripoli.

Juniors – Ben Albers, Jeff Bartz, Chad Benti, Chris Benti, Mitch Halderson, *Chandler Haun, Cody Hoffman, *Zach Olden, *Tom Jankowski, Zach Lederer, *Brady Ludvik, Eric Majerus, *Westley Meinnert, Mason Miller, Ben Morris, *Brody Reichardt, Denton Saladini, *Josh Scott, *Andrew Staehling, Aaron Unger, Andrew Ziegler and Isaac Zimmermann.

Sophomores – Brad Bermke, Brian Cecka, Paul Francis, Brady Grapentine, Keagan Gustin, Cam Hauser, Jimmy Oreck, *Evan Sebranek, Nick Stucke, Traverse Such, and Brent Thiel.

Freshmen – Zach Albers, Nick Freund, Corby Gafner, Chaz Halderson, J.J. Haupt, Jared Holdridge, Ryan Holec, Noah Joseph, Ethan Kaat, Evan Landry, Adam LaVine, Jordan Marshall, Ian McConnaha, Gabe Meyer, Mitchell Meyer, Ryan Nygaard, Ben Potrykus, Max Schermacher, Alex Schmidt, Jake Schneider, Alex Schultz, Sam Staehling and Alex Teteak.

Girls

Seniors – Maggie Albert, *Rachael Cecka, Rachel Holzhaeuser, Emily Geiger, Alla Georg, *Megan Holec, Kyrstin Schaefer, *Becky Schwartz and Alyssa Vetter.

Juniors – *Julie Binder, *Katy Boening, Emily Brown, *Chloe Kastelic, Taylor Meyer, *Elizabeth Raeder and *Nikki Reil.

Sophomores – *Mary Albert, Shelia Anzures, Jordan Austin, Cara Bardon, Sierra Besler, Ericka Bohrmueller, Karley Dochterman, Josie Gierach, Delaney Haese, Bethany Kay, *Jonell Klopf, *Brooke Koehn, Morgan Konz, Katya Krusiec, Brianna Musiedlak, *Julia Novotny, *Abby Payne, Kassi Stokdyk, Elise Suttner, Sadie Tournour, Katie Trakel, Ali VanElls, Dena Watson, Claire Wichert and Joelle Wiest.

Freshmen – Mary Addy, Nicole Bartzen, Elizabeth Baus, Sophie Bolich, Alexis Condy, Lindsey Karczewski, Karly Knaus, Kyra Kronberg, Kayla Lentz, Morgan Lisowe, Hayley Mueller, Jenna Musiedlak, Taylor Orleans, Kelly Pocian and Erin VanElls.

* = Returning letter winner.


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