Boys look to keep winning
As the Whitehall boys track team embarks on another season, they'll look to continue a winning tradition that has defined the team the last few years.
The Zephyr boys finished 5-4 last year, marking another successful campaign under head coach Jim Sebesta. They've become accustomed the plus side of the ledger, posting winning seasons seven out of the last eight years.
They'll try to maintain that trend as they'll rely on a large pool of athletes to help them capture points this season. This year the team boasts 71 promising names, each one hoping to make their mark and put the Zephs back in the winning column.
Once again, they'll have to survive the rigors of the Lehigh Valley Conference with a lot of youth, with the bulk of their roster devoted to sophomores and freshmen.
Sebesta said that situation presents a challenge since kids will be stepping onto the track for the first time as varsity athletes.
"We're not only young, be also have a lot of new track athletes," said Sebesta.
Still, they have a solid foundation on which to build. They have some strong areas, especially among the jumpers and throwers, and that will help navigate some rough terrain this year.
Sprinting for the Zephs will be seniors John Johnson, James Wah, two talented runners who have a wealth of experience that should prove valuable. Joining them will be fellow senior Stephen Buss who will bring depth to the field and will also help them by supplying veteran leadership.
While junior Kyleem Harrison is primarily a jumper, Sebesta said that he'll be part of the relay team, as will newcomer Ronny Okungu, a sophomore.
While it's a dedicated group, Sebesta said his sprinting field isn't as deep as in years past. They're also raw and will feature a number of freshmen and sophomores to bolster the line-up.
"It's probably the youngest we've ever been in the sprints," said Sebesta.
The middle distance contingent will be led by senior Michael Leonhardt who's consistently been a top performer in the 800 meters. He'll be joined by a number of runners, including juniors Michael Eible and Jean Carlos Falcon, both of whom are strong runners. Falcon has added the 800 to his repertoire, while still being a formidable presence in the high jump.
Other middle distance runners include senior Josh Levano, junior Kurt Koehler and freshman David Labib.
Long distance will be ably manned by junior Brian Plucinsky and senior Justin Sommer. Both runners made an impact last season and will be counted on this year to continue their strong racing.
In addition to those two, newcomer Gabe Lamm, a sophomore, will be tackling the 3,200. Sebesta said that his cross country experience should help him stay competitive. The Zephs will also rely on senior Will Ortiz, as well as freshman Elliot Miller and Calvin Schneck to bolster their long distance fortunes.
Sebesta expects that some of the distance runners will drop down to the middle distances as well, keeping them strong in both areas.
The hurdlers feature a number of new faces, with junior Nick Seagraves returning to anchor that young group. They'll also have junior Daniel El-Hajj as an elder statesman. The other Zephs competing include junior Scott Howett, sophomores Jerome Settle, Julio Girardo, Nicholas Guerra, and Austin Young.
Harrison will once again compete in all three jumps, while Falcon will be a force in the high jump. These two should form a strong duo every time they step on the track, and will help garner valuable points.
Senior Damon Meckes will be another solid contributor in the jumps, while junior Isaiah Cary and senior Suken Patel will provide strong depth.
Sebesta said that each of his pole vaulters will be new to the discipline. They include senior Dominic Continenza, sophomores Travis Coleman and Zachary Hixson, as well as freshman Matthew Madura.
"They're going to experience some growing pains, but they're all working hard, and that's a good thing," said Sebesta.
In the throwing events, the Zephs will count on a number of athletes who made their mark last season, including seniors Jacob Wygant, Kenneth Christine-Mann who captured a number of points during the dual meet season. Wygant will throw the discus and shot, while Christine-Mann will wield the discus.
Additionally, Sebesta said newcomer Nick Nejad, a junior, has already impressed with the javelin, reaching 156 ft. during practice. He'll be joined in the throws by seniors Pat Lynch, Jacob Rex, Aaron Genevese, Andrew Lloyd and Michael Hozza.
Sebesta said they're at the stage where they're still trying to figure things out, but their athleticism should help them get up to speed relatively fast. Also throwing will be juniors Jeff Cordon and Jake Kerchner.
This group of throwers, all upper classmen, should benefit the Zephs as they've all experienced athletic competition, making it perhaps the strongest area of the boys team.
The Zephs will also count on juniors Logan Comstock, Zyan Globosits and Daniel Kier to contribute this season, while sophomores Orlando Bonilla, Michael Farber, Mason Fisher, Brian Heckman, Benjamin Helman, Louis Howard, Kevin Kara, Douglas Manzano and Shivendra Singh will provide depth.
Additional freshman who may see action include, Samuel Abraham, Alexia Anatalio, Domini Brown-Andriulli, Michale DePree, Jordan Fallen, Felix Figueroa, Rohit Gangupantulu, Nicholas Herring, Collin Hood, Marvin Manalo, Adam Nemeth, Subham Patel, Nicholas Rackus, Michael Saccani, Andrew Sassaman and Aaron Sierra.
Sebesta said that they may struggle, especially early since they don't have quite the depth they've had in the previous years. Still, he's looking forward to what this group can do and expects them to compete every time they step on the track.
"It's a good group of hard-working kids." said Sebesta. "We'll have some areas where depth is an issue, but we hope to do well."