In recent years, the Marquette Academy track and field squad has had talent, but not numbers.
This spring, if the season ever gets going on the all-weather oval, they will have more of both.
The Crusaders and Lady Crusaders still will not overwhelm opponents with bodies, but there are enough of them and enough talent among them for coach Jeff Cook to fill quite a few more events than he’s been used to as recently as a year ago.
Junior distance ace Lucas Hoffman, senior sprinter Sean Kissel and senior miler Kathryn Siena will lead a squad of 26 members into competing more as a team than it has.
“When I joined the high school program last year, we started with just 12 people, but by the end of last season we had 18, so we’re making real progress,” said Cook, who coached many of his athletes in junior high track and cross country. “We lost seven seniors from that team, so that was a concern, but we feel really good about the future of the program now going forward.”
There is one virtual certainty for the Cru this spring should they get to compete, and that’s Lucas Hoffman making it to Charleston.
The dedicated, driven junior just missed making it in the distances a year ago, and now that his old Tri-County rival from Seneca, 1600 and 3200 state champ Christopher Collet, is gone, the door is open. Hoffman started well with a fourth in the 1600 at an indoor meet at Aurora in early March.
Joining him in the distances will be senior Angelo Weyer, and those two could also occupy two spots in the distance relays, with the other half coming from lanky junior Nathan Scherer, sophomore Maclane Rinearson and freshman Easton Kent, who Cook feels will be a state qualifier one day after he finds his best niche. At Aurora before the cancellations, only Hoffman had faster splits than Kent in the 1600 relay, which along with Rinearson and Zitt placed third
Senior Sean Kissel, the team leader, is also a candidate for the leadoff leg in the 1600 relay when not in the sprints with junior Donnie Zitt and sophomores Maverick McAlpine and Joe Gerkitz.
Senior Gabe Amicon just came out before practices were cancelled, so his role is yet to be determined. The same can be said of exchange student Jesse Gao once he is cleared to compete,
There’s also a solid group in the throws, led by jsenior Adam Matza, along with juniors Jake Mitchell, Wyatt Smith and Gus Amicon, though the latter three will also see action on the track.
Fort the Lady Crusaders, fourth-year senior Kathryn Siena, a cross country standout, is the captain. With classmate Chloe Garkey, they will hold down the distance races.
The rest of the squad is more sprint heavy, with senior Sophie Leskanich and first-year seniors Bridget Crouch and Rachel Obos. Junior Alexia Solis, a track newcomer, and freshmen Darby Morganflash, Norah Bullock and Ella Biggins will take on the middle distances and legs of the distance relays.
The foursome of Garkey, Bullock, Solis and Siena placed third in the 3200 relay at Aurora, while Leskanich, Solis, Crouch and junior Eliza Smith were third in the 800 relay.
Smith, the younger sister of former MA throws standout Sarah Smith, also placed sixth in the shot at that meet. She’ll be joined in the throws by sophomore Kaitlyn Magoonaugh.
“I have training plans out to all the kids,” said Cook, “and I put things on my Instagram page and hope the kids are getting their workouts in, if for no other reason than to deal with the stress of everything going on in the world.
"I try and stay hopeful that we’ll have something, and when we do, we will all be ready.”