Portland Girls’ Varsity Track Team
“We have a young team this year and while the kids have been working hard to get ready for the season, it’s a building year for us. I want the kids to have fun”, declared Coach John Novara, who begins his eighth season this week as Portland Girl’s Track Coach, when he sat down with The Portland Beacon for a recent interview.
The most experienced member of the Girl’s team is Senior Lesley Barker. Novara gleams while giving high praise for Barker who is one of the Lansing Area’s leading long-jumpers, having won the Honor Roll meet in the long-jump as a Freshman and a Sophomore. She has jumped over 17’ and has been All-CAAC White Division for the past three years. She has also been All-League, three times in the 100-meter dash. Barker will participate in several other events as well.
Other Seniors Novara believes have potential for a strong track season are Jolee Pung, who is returning from last year’s team where she was All League in the High Jump and Madison Guilford, who will be competing in the Discuss in her first year that she has come out for Track. Ellie Rutkowski will compete in the Shot-put, in her final year on the Track Team, hoping to fill the gap left by Olivia Gardner who was All League in 2018 and is competing on the Davenport University Track Team this season. Macey Fazakerley and Kelsie Meagher round out the Seniors on the team.
Ari Babcock, Hannah Wakely and Julia Wilson are three of the Juniors that Novara will also rely on this season. Babcock was an All-League Distance Runner last year and was one of Portland’s strongest Cross-Country runners last fall. Other Juniors, who Novara says will be competitive this season, are Hannah Martin and Mackenzie Cathcart in the Shot-Put and Bailey Badgero in the High and Low Hurdles. Rylee Brownell will compete in distance events.
Ruthie Fedewa, Alexis Gurski, Hailey Holton, and Brooke Sandborn-Zinn are among a small group of Sophomores on the Girls track team this year. Novara said that one of the Sophomores, Talia Blaschka, will be the veteran pole-vaulter for the team.
Novara said that three very athletic Freshman will also be trying Pole-Vaulting this year including Catherine Svanda, Adrienne Hinds, and Avery Brennan. Destiny Foltz and Kaelyn Bayless will compete in sprint events and other events. While Grace Clark will be one of the hurdlers while Teaghan Lathers will round out the long-distance running roster.
Portland Boys’ Varsity Track Team
Portland Boy’s Track Coach, Dan Sandborn, has coached Varsity Track for 46 years. “We have 15 athletes returning from last season which will provide us with experience and depth in several areas. We have several athletes who are first year participants to our program, but they are veteran athletes who should provide needed depth”.
Jake Veale, a Senior, will perform in the 100 Meter, 200 Meter races as well as the 4x200, and 4X100 Meter Relays. He is a returning All-League and State Qualifier from last year. He will be joined on the Senior Roster by Hunter Klein and Bobby Brandsen who will both participate in the Shot Put and Discuss events. Klein was Honorable Mention All-League in the Shot-Put last year, Brandsen was Honorable Mention All-League in the Discuss. Blaine Rosier, the Raider’s leading Cross-Country Runner in the Fall, rounds out the Senior Class and will participate in the 1600,800,400- and 3200-Meter events.
The Junior Class has four returning track performers led by Chris Teachout who was All-League in the High Jump in 2018. He will also participate in the High and Low Hurdles as well as the 100 Meter and 200 Meter sprints. He will be joined by fellow classmates: Devin Foote in the Hurdles and Long Jump; Gabe Hankey and John Davids who will both participate in the Shot Put and Discuss; Florian Klindt will participate in the 100 Meter, 200 Meter, Long-Jump and the 4x200 and 4x400 Meter Relay Events. The Junior Class is rounded out by Distance Runner, Chris Walker, who will compete in the 1600, 3200- and 800-Meter races.
The Sophomore Class is led by Alex Mitchell who is an All-League and State Qulaifier in the 4x200 and 4x100 Relays. He also will run 100 Meter and 200 Meter sprints. Brett Beard returns as the Raider’s most experienced Long-Jumper having earned All-League Honorable Mention last year in the event. He will also run Hurdles and in the 200 Meter Sprint. Michael Almy will perform in the Long-Jump and Hurdles, as well as the 200- and 400-Meter events. Jordan Klein will round out the Shot Put and Discuss event and Jayce Gillette will perform in the Discus and the 100 Meter and 200 Meter events. Carter Rosier and Carlos Casas will both perform in the 1600, 3200- and 800-Meter events.
The Raider Boy’s Track Team has only two Freshman on the roster. Both, Caiden Pelc and Ben Wasmus, will focus on the 1600, 3200- and 800-Meter races.
Coach Sandborn praised his team saying that the “Group has a positive mind set, with a business approach to practice and meets. We look to improve through throughout the season….”
The Raiders open the season on Wednesday at the Ionia Quad Meet at Ionia Rather Elementary. The Meet begins at 4:00.