Stephen Schlicting enters his first year leading the Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ outdoor track team; Steve George is back for his fourth season guiding the girls.
There is no secret what will power the Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ and girls’ outdoor track teams this season. It’s their running.
As Stephen Schlicting enters his first season at the helm of the boys’ outdoor track team, he’s excited by what he’s seen.
“We have some very talented boys,” Schlicting, who takes over the team that finished 2-4 under Mike Driscoll last spring, said. “Our running program, I think, is going to do very, very well. Our distance runners are excellent. Jack Ryan, Andrew Newman – they’re really, really great runners.”
Newman and Ryan, who are both seniors, are about as good as it gets. Newman has taken his game to a whole new level this season, racing to first-place finishes in his first five competitions during the fall in cross country while garnering Patriot League All-Star recognition. He was also a league all-star in the winter as well. As a junior, Ryan was a three-season Patriot League All-Star in cross country, indoor track and winter track.
Ryan captains the team alongside classmate Alex Uva and junior Billy Martell.
“I’m very comfortable with them,” Schlicting, who served as an assistant coach at W-H during the cross country and indoor track season, said. “I’ve seen Jack up close and Alex up close and I had Billy in winter track working with him in the sprints so I’m sure he’s going to do a great job.”
Martell is going to play a key role in what Schlicting coined the strength of the team – distance running.
“Billy Martell is a very good sprinter, he’ll be doing the 100 [and] the 200,” Schlicting explained. “(Senior) Scott Mateus will be running in the 100 and the 4×100. They’re kind of my experienced veterans coming back.”
Schlicting has some pretty good hurdlers as well, led by a pair of juniors.
“I’ve got Dan Kline, who qualified in high hurdles last year, he’s coming back,” Schlicting explained. “He’s going to be doing high and low hurdles and Shane Schraut, who did cross country for the first time this year and he did indoor track, and he’s getting better and better in the hurdles.”
The Panthers, who opened the season with a 125-10 victory over North Quincy Thursday, will be back in action Tuesday, April 10 at 3:35 p.m. on the road against Hingham.
“I’m really excited,” Schlicting said. “There’s over 50 boys on this team. We’re up (from the winter season) as far as numbers are concerned.”
As for the girls’ outdoor track team, its seen a participation increase as well – up from 34 athletes last season to 42 this spring. Fifteen freshmen and 15 sophomores will account for roughly 70 percent of its roster.
“We’re still trying to find our way right now,” fourth-year W-H head coach Steve George said. “… we’ve got a lot of kids who are inexperienced.”
Freshman Gabrielle Coste is one of those newcomers.
“She has high jumped 5 feet as a middle school student so I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do at this level,” George, whose team finished 2-4 last season, said.
While Coste may headline the first-year participants, senior captains Nicole Norve and Lilly Perkins lead the returnees. Norve, an Adams State University commit, has been a league All-Star three times in cross country, twice in indoor track and once for outdoor track. Perkins will anchor the 400-meter dash and long jump – two events she excels in.
“They’re multi-sport captains and they’ve had some experience at it and performed well in the past as captains and they continue to do that, despite the fact that they have less than 60 days of school left,” George said.
Juniors Ally Bartlett and Dorothy DiMascio-Donohue, sophomores Anika Floeck and Samantha Perkins, and freshman Isabelle Amado will also give the Panthers a boost this season.
“I think we’re strong in the distance events,” George said. “We have three to five girls who are very talented in multiple events, so we will be good in the jumps.”
The Panthers, who opened the season Thursday with a 76-58 loss to North Quincy, will be back in action Tuesday, April 10 at 3:45 p.m. on the road against Hingham.
“A winning record [is our goal],” George said. “We have five dual meets scheduled and three of the teams are some of the top teams in the state in Hingham, Duxbury and Plymouth North High School, so they’re very difficult opponents but we hope to maybe steal one of those meets.”