Northwestern Press

Saturday, April 4, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZJustin Rodda is one of several athletes expected to score a lot of points for the Tiger boys track team when the 2020 season gets underway. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZJustin Rodda is one of several athletes expected to score a lot of points for the Tiger boys track team when the 2020 season gets underway.

Tiger boys track team returns plenty of talent

Thursday, March 19, 2020 by TJ ENGLE tengle@tnonline.com in Sports

Last year, the Northwestern boys track and field team mustered a 5-6 overall record in the Colonial League.

While that record, and last season, are a glimpse of the past, there’s also question as to whether the upcoming season will happen at all.

It’s not a situation that Northwestern track and field coach Chuck Groller wants to be in, or any other varsity coach for that matter, but it’s one that all deal with now.

“Like all other area spring sports teams, we had only two weeks of practice before we had to shut down as a result of the mandatory school closures due to COVID-19,” Groller said. “This, obviously, makes it a little more difficult to assess things at this time. All our athletes were working hard during the short time we had with them.

“My assistants and I have communicated to all of our athletes to, most importantly, stay healthy and safe, keep working-out hard on their own, be ready to compete, and above all, especially for our senior athletes, stay positive. We WILL get through this.”

If the season eventually gets started, the Tigers will have plenty of athletes returning.

Returning are Rhys Fenstermaker (Sr., pole vault), Mike Marrazzo (Sr., throws), Joe Pleban, (Sr., long distance), Michael Rebert (Sr., mid-distance), Matthew Renner (Sr., mid-distance), Tony Beidler (Jr.,sprints & hurdles), Rhys George (Jr., pole vault), Wyatt Ledeboer (Jr., sprints, long & triple jump), Justin Rodda (Jr., sprints, high jump, & long jump), Cole Chukoskie (So., distance) and Josh Heilman (So., mid-distance).

While hurdles took a hit with the graduation of Ryan Haas and Nolan Hernandez, the Tigers returns Beidler and look to Brandon Smeltz to fill those voids quickly. But, there’s plenty of returning talent across the board for the Tigers.

“We will be looking to get points in sprints, long jump, and high jump from Justin Rodda,” Groller said. “One of our strong areas this year should be our mid/long distance group, which includes key returnees Michael Rebert, Joe Pleban, Matthew Renner, Cole Chukoskie and Josh Heilman.”

While the returnees are there for Groller and his coaching staff, some newcomers could also catch everyone’s attention.

Deven Bollinger (Sr., sprints), Andres Garrido (Jr. jumps), Luke Hallman (Sr., throws), Gabe Miller (Sr., throws), Brandon Smeltz (Jr., hurdles) and Jared Stitzel (Jr., mid-distance).

“Luke Hallman was with us as a freshman and he was the top freshmen shot putter in the Colonial League,” Groller stressed. “He was the best going back. We were devastated he couldn’t throw his sophomore or junior years because of his ACL. He’s back to form. We’re looking to get a lot of things out of Luke this year. He’s stronger. It’s just sad he couldn’t do it for the last two years. But, I’m so happy he’s back, and hopefully he can go from there and excel in what he needs to do.”

Groller is also glad to see Bollinger out for the team.

“I was after him since he was a freshman,” Groller said. “He played baseball in his first year. He concentrated on football the last two years. This year he said he was coming out. He wants to stay in shape for going to Delaware. He’s going to help us out. Not greatly just by his athleticism, but just by his leadership.”

While everything remains in question, whether the season happens, time will tell. But it didn’t stop Groller for talking season goals.

“We should be competitive, and we are looking to improve our record to above .500,” Groller said. “We are still a young team with a lot of unknowns. Time will also tell how these young men respond to the challenges for them that lie ahead.”