Panthers look to build on 2016 success

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

LAUREN RABE, pictured last season, is one of the key mid-distance runners returning for the PHS girls track team this year. – Review file photo LAUREN RABE, pictured last season, is one of the key mid-distance runners returning for the PHS girls track team this year. – Review file photo PLYMOUTH – Improvement by each athlete will be crucial for the Plymouth boys and girls track teams this season as they look to build on last year’s strong campaign.

“Our goal as a team is to have each individual improve in his and her respective event, and if this happens, team successes will follow,” said veteran Panther head coach Jay Grosshuesch.

The boys return 14 letter winners from last year’s squad which won the inaugural East Central Conference Meet. The Panthers were second in their Division 1 regional and sectional meets, and were undefeated in ECC quadrangulars and triangulars.

The girls team has 18 returning letter winners. The Panthers placed second in the ECC Meet and were unbeaten in conference quadrangular and triangular competition. PHS finished fifth in its regional and ninth at the sectional.

DEREK NOVOTNY of Plymouth, shown competing last season, will be one of the key sprinters for the PHS boys track team this year. – Review file photo DEREK NOVOTNY of Plymouth, shown competing last season, will be one of the key sprinters for the PHS boys track team this year. – Review file photo BOYS PREVIEW

The Panthers return two athletes who competed in the state meet last year – senior Jack Benedict and junior Derek Novotny. They were on the second-place 800-meter relay. Novotny also competed in the long jump.

Novotny and Benedict ran on the winning 400 and 800 relays in the ECC Meet, Novotny is the defending conference champion in the long jump.

“We lost many upperclassmen from last year’s team, so we will have lots of opportunities for a new batch of athletes to step up and provide us with strong performances this season,” said Grosshuesch who is in his 20th season as the PHS head coach.

“With 14 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.”

Grosshuesch said the top returning athletes include:

Seniors Benedict (sprints) and Zach Strehlow (mid-distance); juniors Novotny (sprints and jumps), Mason Guell (mid-distance and jumps), Connor Joseph (mid-distance and hurdles), Korey Friederichs (throws), Alex Kelly (distance), Mack Mella (mid-distance), Gabe Olsen (distance), Garrison Pierce (middistance), Jaxsen Schermacher (sprints and pole vault), Luke Schneider (mid- distance), Adam Smith (mid-distance) and Korey Tetschlag (sprints and pole vault); and sophomores Josh Koll (sprints), Jack Nytes (throws) and Max Hassel (distance).

Grosshuesch said the top prospects are junior Isaac Fintak and sophomore Charlie Waitkus, both



Seniors – *Jack Benedict and *Zach Strehlow.

Juniors – Isaac Fintak, *Korey Friederichs, *Mason Guell, Joe Harvey, Connor Joseph, *Alex Kelly, *Mack Mella, *Derek Novotny, *Gabe Olsen, Brady Petrie, *Garrison Pierce, *Jaxsen Schermacher, Luke Schneider, *Adam Smith and Kory Tetschlag.

Sophomores – Keegan Gafney, Max Hassel, *Derek Holec, Devin Jankuski, *Josh Koll, Cole Meyer, *Jack Nytes and Charlie Waitkus.

Freshmen – Tate Back, Brandon Beeck, Connor Bruckner, Riley Huibregtse, Logan Jaeger, Chase Jasinski, Ethan Joseph, Isaac Kraus, Michael Krusiec, Max Leynse, Joe Mertes, Mark Nehring, John Nugent, Ben Olsen, Matthew Timm and Michael Zipperer.


Seniors – *Sophie Albert, *Helen Baus, Louisa Buyimiarsdottir, *Emma Grapentine, Norika Higuchi, *Grace Huibregtse, *Taylor Kurtz, *Gwen Nytes, Manide Passanha, Maria Ryan, Kayla Schwibinger, Nazla Siregar and *Margeaux Suttner.

Juniors – Katie Benedict, Liz Benicke, *Hanna Eigenberger, *Emily LaVine and Lexi Timm.

Sophomores – Tanya Gilbertson, *Allie Gruttner, Christiana Hoyt, *Cece Huhn, *Izzy Kastelic, *Gabi Mella, *Emily Portschy, *Lauren Rabe, *Maggie Staehling, Charlotte Suttner, *Libby Tournour and *Amanda Triebensee.

Freshmen – Sarah Birenbaum, Anna Brink, Angela Eigenberger, Jenneh Egerer, Lauren Flood, Madeline Haucke, Jessica Norton, Jennifer Novotny, Lexi Sheridan and Ava Schilder. * Returning letter winner.

_=_ _ _ distance runners.

“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 Grosshuesch.

“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 mid-distance group will be a strength in our team with lots of depth in this area. Mason Guell, Mack Mella, Garrison Pierce and Adam Smith will anchor this group,” the coach pointed out.

“In the jumps, we expect Derek Novotny and Mason Guell to build on their strong season in these events last year. Jaxsen Schermacher had a great year in the pole vault last year and we expect him to continue that excellence this year as well.

“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.

“I expect Waupun, Berlin, Ripon and Winneconne to be strong [in the ECC]. We hope we can be in that group and can add another conference title in the ECC,” said Grosshuesch.

Berlin placed second in the ECC Meet last year.


“With a large number of returning seniors we do have some quality athletes and strong leadership to begin the season with,” said Grosshuesch.

“With 18 returning letter winners our girls team has a bevy of experience. Our challenge will be to have these returning athletes push themselves to the next level of excellence, building off of last year’s experiences.”

The Panthers have one individual ECC champion back in sophomore Lauren Rabe who won the 400 dash. Rabe also ran on the winning 1,600 relay at the ECC Meet. The rest of the relay members return in seniors Sophie Albert and Margeaux Suttner and junior Hanna Eigenberger.

PHS has a returning sectional champion – sophomore Gabi Mella in the long jump.

“We have the athletes and the work ethic to do it. We just need to stay focused and get great effort out of all the girls each and every day and we will be happy with our season,” said Grosshuesch.

Grosshuesch said the top returning athletes include:

Seniors Albert (mid-distance); Helen Baus (sprints), Grace Huibregtse (distance), Emma Grapentine (sprints and jumps), Taylor Kurtz (hurdle), Gwen Nytes (sprints and pole vault), Maria Ryan (distance), Margeaux Suttner (mid-distance and hurdles) and Kayla Schwibinger (sprints and hurdles); juniors Eigenberger (mid-distance) and Emily LaVine (throws); and sophomores Allie Gruttner (middistance), Izzy Kastelic (middistance), Cece Huhn (throws and jumps), Mella (sprints and jumps), Emily Portschy (hurdles), Rabe (mid-distance), Charlotte Suttner (mid-distance), Maggie Staehling (sprints), Libby Tournour (sprints and pole vault) and Amanda Tribensee (distance).

Grosshuesch said the top prospects are junior Katie Benedict in the sprints, and freshmen Madeline Haucke and Lauren Flood in the sprints and jumps.

“We will be quite deep in the sprints and mid-distance. Helen Baus, Gwen Nytes, Emma Grapentine and Gabi Mella should give us lots of points in the sprints. In the middle-distance events, Lauren Rabe, Allie Gruttner and Hanna Eigenberger should make these events big point-getters for us,” said Grosshuesch.

“The throwing events may be one of our better field event areas with Emily LaVine and Cece Huhn coming off strong seasons.

“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,” the coach pointed out.

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

Berlin won the league title last year and KML was third.

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