Sam Nardo is set for his second season at the helm of the Union Local track program.
The former Jets' hurdler has a solid mix of veterans and newcomers, which lead to him to believe his squads will be able to challenge in meets this spring.
"We had a pretty young team last year, and I think we can step it up this year in all of our events," Nardo said. "We have a lot of experience in a lot of areas, so we hope we can give the competition a run for its money."
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED ARE the key returnees for the Union Local boys track team. Kneeling, from left, are Justin Bolt, Demitree Turner and Jacob Fijalkowski. Standing, from left, are Joseph Glenn, Jake Leishman and Austin Kemp.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED ARE the key returnees for the Union Local girls track team. Front row, from left, are Anna Frazier, Kaitlyn Powell, Kylie Russell and Bailey Glenn. Back row, from left, Sierra Nowak, Mikayla Twarog, Mikayla Patton, Sidney Gatton and Raegan Ricer.
The Jets boys will be led by senior sprinter Jake Leishman and senior distance runner Kaleb Hayes.
In the field, senior Zach Beck is back in the high jump. He was a regional qualifier in that event a season ago.
Sophomore Kaleb McDiffitt - fresh off an impressive basketball season - will be one of the more versatile Jets. He'll see time in the short sprints as well as the long jump.
One glaring absence the Jets will be trying to fill is in the hurdles where Colin Jones resided the past several years. Jones was a state qualifier in the intermediates and also a regional finalist in the highs.
Sophomore Demitree Turner is going to be one of the Jets counted upon to pick up the scoring load in the hurdles.
Also in the distance contingent, freshman Robbie Milhoan should contribute.
Sophomore Jacob Fijalkowski will be the Jets' top entrant in the throwing events.
In the vault, senior Austin Kemp returns to lead the way for Union Local.
Other juniors in the mix are Jake Boyd, John Fitzgerald, Joe Glenn and Griffin Roberts. The balance of the sophomore class includes Justin Bolt and Dale Mann.
A large group of freshmen are set for their first season. They include: John Brandon, Mike Chambers, Kaleb Dodds, Josh Knox, Chris Lambert, Trey Mistak, Brian McWhorter, Nate Stubbs and Zach Williams.
THE LADY JETS, meanwhile, are led by a returning state qualifier in junior Kylie Russell.
Russell participated in the state meet in the pole vault and will be one of the area's premier female vaulters this season.
Sophomore Mikayla Patton and junior Mikayla Twarog return in the shot put and discus throws.
On the track, senior Andrea McCloud (sprints) and Bethany Schaeffer (sprints, relays) will be two of the leaders. Sophomore Sidney Gatten is another sprinter that Nardo is high on.
Other returning letterwinners are sophomores Raegen Ricer, Sierra Nowak, Bailey Glenn.
Sophomores still seeking their first monogram are Brieonna McGinn, Stephanie Moore, Kaitlin Powell and Briana Stewart. A solid collection of freshmen out for the team include Megan Bateman, Katie Frazier, Kaitlyn Kelly, Elizabeth Kocher, Mackenzie McGary, Veronica Mehl and Maiah Miller.
Union Local must replace the graduated Casey Glenn and Jessica Carlisle.
"I'm very happy with how things are progressing," Nardo said. "Every athlete is putting the time and effort in, and I just love seeing that. I'm proud of all of our athletes. Plus, they're all great kids to be around."
Nardo has a quality coaching staff working alongside him this spring. It includes Julia Schott, Dustin Hess, Ryan Kutcher, Chase Clark, Jim Gatten and Paul Demarchi. The complete Union Local schedule is as follows:
March 29 - at Maysville Invite; April 1 - at Martins Ferry with Wheeling Central; April 5 - Gloria Dawes Invitational; April 8 - at Trail with Caldwell, Shenandoah; April 11 - at St. C. Porterfield Invitational; April 19 - at Shadyside Relays; April 22 - at Barnesville; April 25 - at St. Clairsville with Dover and Conotton; April 29 - Buckeye 8 at Martins Ferry; May 1 - Buckeye Local, Harrison; May 6 and 8 - OVAC Qualifying at St. C; May 10 - OVAC Championship; May 17 - at Barnesville Shamrock Relays.