Young athletes key for PHS teams’ hopes

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


SAMUEL STAEHLING (left) and Plymouth teammate Jake Schneider, shown competing in the 200-meter dash at last year’s sectional meet, are two of the key returning athletes for the PHS boys track team. – Review file photo SAMUEL STAEHLING (left) and Plymouth teammate Jake Schneider, shown competing in the 200-meter dash at last year’s sectional meet, are two of the key returning athletes for the PHS boys track team. – Review file photo PLYMOUTH – The underclassmen will play key roles in the success of Plymouth’s boys and girls track teams this season.

Both squads return several key athletes from last year but Panther head coach Jay Grosshuesch is counting on freshmen and sophomores to help provide depth. The Panthers will be competing in the new East Central Conference this year.

The 48-member boys squad, which has 17 returning letter winners, won the last five Eastern Wisconsin Conference championships. The girls team, which numbers 48, has 17 letter winners back. The girls finished third in the 2015 EWC Meet.

BOYS PREVIEW

“Our total numbers are down quite a bit from last year but we do have a pretty good stable of very strong athletes,” said Jay Grosshuesch who is in his 19th season as the Panther head coach.


SOPHIE BOLICH, shown in the 1,600-meter run at last year’s sectional meet, will lead the Plymouth girls track team’s distance events this season. Bolich was a 1,600 and 3,200 state runner last season. – Review file photo SOPHIE BOLICH, shown in the 1,600-meter run at last year’s sectional meet, will lead the Plymouth girls track team’s distance events this season. Bolich was a 1,600 and 3,200 state runner last season. – Review file photo “With 17 returning letter winners, we have something to work with but we need to fill some holes and add depth to all our events to be real competitive.

“We have a very large group of sophomores and we are hoping that these young men with a year of high school experience behind them can step things up this year and contribute quality performances at the varsity level and can step up their level of effectiveness to score some quality points at the varsity,” said Grosshuesch.

“It would also be a huge bonus for our team if we could find several freshmen to fill some holes we will have at the varsity level.

The top returning athletes for the Panthers include: seniors Zach Albers (hurdles), Kyle Birenbaum (throws), Corby Gafney (distance), Jordan Marshall (mid-distance), Samuel Staehling (sprints), Jake Schneider (sprints), Ian McConnaha (distance), Max Schermacher (pole vault); juniors Gavin Falk (jumps) and Cody Kuhn (jumps); and sophomore Derek Novotny (sprints and jumps).

Albers, Schneider, Staehling and Falk were Division 1 state qualifiers last season – Albers in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles; Schneider, 800 relay and 200 dash; Staehling, 800 relay, and 100 and 200 dashes; and Gavin Falk in the long jump. Schneider was a sectional champion in the 200. Staehling and Schneider ran in the sectional-winning 800 relay.

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

“Our weak areas will be the lack of depth in the hurdles and throws, mostly because we are young or have few athletes in the events. Our only returning hurdler is Zach Albers who looks good early this season but we need to quickly develop another hurdler or two.

“Our sprint group will be one of our deepest and strongest areas, anchored by Samuel Staehling and Jake Schneider. Our mid-distance group will be another strength in our team, with Jordan Marshall leading that group,” Grosshuesch pointed out.

“Our distance group is going to be a bit thin but it has the real potential to become a strength as some young kids develop.

“In the jumps, we expect Cody Kuhn, Gavin Falk, Derek Novotny and Samuel Staehling to build on their strong season in these events last year. Max Schermacher had a great year in the pole vault last year and we expect him to continue that excellence this year as well,” said the veteran coach.

Grosshuesch said the top prospects are junior Connor McManus (distance runner) and freshman Jack Nytes (throws).

“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,” said Grosshuesch.

“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.

“Our freshmen class is small in number but looks athletic and hard working, so hopefully we can get some help from them by season’s end.

“I expect Waupun, Berlin, Ripon and Winneconne to be strong [in the ECC]. We hope we can be in that group and can start a new string of conference titles in the ECC,” said Grosshuesch.

Berlin, Ripon and Winneconne weren’t in the EWC last year.

GIRLS PREVIEW

Senior distance runner Sophie Bolich heads the group of returning letter winners. Bolich was a state qualifier in the 1,600 and 3,200 races last year. She also competed in the state 3,200 as a freshman and sophomore. Bolich was a 2015 sectional champion in the 3,200.

The Panthers’ other top returning athletes include: seniors Elizabeth Baus (sprints), Lindsey Karczewski (sprints), Morgan Lisowe (sprints), Kyra Kronberg (throws), Kayla Lentz (mid-distance) and Jenna Musiedlak (throws); juniors Sophie Albert (mid-distance), Helen Baus (sprints), Grace Huibregtse (distance), Emma Grapentine (sprints and jumps), Katie Grimm (hurdles), Gwen Nytes (pole vault), Allison Pieper (throws), Margeaux Suttner (mid distance); and sophomores Hanna Eigenberger (mid-distance) and Emily LaVine (throws).

“Our numbers on the girls team are down a bit with 48 athletes. However, with the small numbers we do have some pretty good quality,” said Grosshuesch.

“We lost some very talented seniors to graduation last year, so we have some big holes to fill. We do have a large freshman class out for the team, so perhaps they can develop and add some depth to our team.

“Sophie looks to really bring her racing to the next level this spring. She, along with Grace Huibregtse and Amanda Triebensee are coming off strong cross country seasons and will given our distance events a boost,” the coach noted.

“Our hurdling crew is very inexperienced with Taylor Kurtz and Katie Grimm as our only returning athletes in this area.

“We will be quite deep in the sprints and mid-distance. Morgan Lisowe, Elizabeth Baus, Helen Baus, Gwen Nytes, Emma Grapentine and Hanna Eigenberger should help solidify these events. We think freshmen Gabi Mella and Lauren Rabe can add even more depth to these events.

“The throwing events may be our best field event with Allison Pieper, Emily LaVine, Jenna Musiedlak and Kyra Kronberg coming off good seasons last year. In the other field events we are pretty thin and inexperienced,” the coach observed.

“There will be multiple opportunities for our many younger athletes to contribute in the field events as we need to add some depth in all of these events.”

Grosshuesch said the top prospects include freshmen Allie Gruttner (mid-distance), Mella (sprints), Rabe (mid-distance) and Triebensee (distance).

“We are excited about our large numbers in the freshmen class and hope they can give us the depth we need to be a strong team,” he said.

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

“I expect Berlin, Winneconne and Ripon to be strong [in the ECC]. With some significant help from our young group we may be able to get in their league.”


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