The Pettisville track teams are scheduled to get underway, Tuesday, April 2, in a tri-meet with Archbold and North Central at Pettisville.
Longtime mentor Tom Wagner retired last year after 37 years at the helm.
Former assistant coaches Gabe Jaramillo and Marty Rupp are starting their first year leading the program. Jaramillo has 12 years of coaching experience, while Rupp has 31.
The girls team won its fifth straight BBC championship last year. It was the Birds’ 14th in school history, and 10th in the last 11 years.
Four letterwinners were lost to graduation on a team that finished second at district and fourth at regionals: Elizabeth Sauder, Nichole Foor, Kendal Pursel, and Sarah Herring.
Returning letterwinners are senior Morgan Leppelmeier; juniors Sarah Foor, Kate Stuber, Kelly Miller, and Ava Hoylman; and sophomores Grace Schnitkey and Ellie Wixom.
“Our overall numbers are high, as well as our talent level,” said Jaramillo.
“We could prove to be competitive in all areas: distance, sprints, and field. Experience will play a key role throughout the season.
“We must stay focused on the overall goal, and that is to continue running through May and hopefully into June (at the state tournament).
“Overall, we look to have a competitive and successful season.”
As far as the race for the BBC title, “We should be able to put together a team that will be a strong contender for the league title.”
Returning lettermen on the PHS boys team that finished 12th at districts last year are seniors Calvin Nofziger and Zach Morrison; junior Graeme Jacoby; and sophomores Heath Waidelich, Ben Morris, and Justice Beck.
The boys team is “looking to have a great year in shot put and pole vault,” said Jaramillo. “Our hurdlers should prove to be competitive throughout the season.”
However, “our numbers for this year are low, and for that we will struggle to keep pace scoring throughout an entire meet.
“We look to be competitive and score well in the events that we will be able to fill with our athletes.”
In the BBC, “it will be difficult to compete with the teams in our league that will have larger teams, but we hope to have a few athletes compete for individual league titles.”
Kevin York, shot put, discus, and Casey Underwood, junior high and high jump, are assistant coaches.