GLADWIN – The Gladwin Track Team was busy preparing for the season when the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) delayed its start back on March 12. When the season was canceled on April 3 Coach Buddy Goldsworthy was left speculating about what could have been. “The Jack Pine Conference has been very strong recently,” said Goldsworthy. Clare and Meridian have been among the best teams in the state. “This season was going to be one that would clearly define which direction Gladwin track would be heading,” added Goldsworthy.
The addition of Shepherd and Pinconning to the conference makes the competition even tougher. “The Gladwin boys would have to rise to the occasion if they want to finish towards the top of the conference standings,” said Goldsworthy. He seemed optimistic that the boys were up to the challenge. “Veterans such as Jerod Guoan, Wilson Bragg, Jacob McLemore and Cedrick Gutierrez were looking to make their mark and lead the team to a strong performance,” he said.
Goldsworthy was also happy to welcome several newcomers that he felt would have a “huge impact.” Nick Robinette, Nathan Doan and Kal Landenberger were all out for the team this year. Goldsworthy also mentioned that there was also a “load” of young talent this season. The boys have “thrived under the coaching of Dave Beyer, Jordan Strohkirch and Ashley Smith” during their junior high years.
“We were so excited for the season,” continued Goldsworthy “Earl Esiline, Nathan Stein, Logan Greenwood, Nick Wheeler bring straight speed. Kadin McDonald, Wheeler and Kadin Fetterolf were set to join David Dremer and Denver Peters in the hurdle events.” Goldsworthy went on to say the middle distance events would get a “big boost” from Ethan Underwood, Ethan Edgar and McDonald. Jerod Guoan leads a group of returning distance runners that includes Tanner Bissonette, Josh O’Henley, Carson Allen, Taylor Klienhardt, and Wilson Bragg.
When talking about the field events Goldsworthy mentioned that they were also going to feel the effects of this influx of young talent. Dominic Coats and Jack Wilford will add “depth” to the throwing events. Esiline is an “accomplished” long jumper, McDonald is an “improving” high jumper. Wheeler is one of the top freshman pole vaulters in the state. He holds the record with a vault of 11’3”. Goldsworthy went on to say’ “It truly looked like all the tools were in play for a successful season.”
“Having the tools and being able to use them are two totally different things,” said Goldsworthy. “In just a few short days though it seemed everything was falling into place. Everyone seemed to be very focused and driven to make this one of Gladwin’s best seasons ever.” Cedrick Gutierrez was the top returning sprinter. His time of 11.71 in the 100 meters was the second best among conference returnees. He along with Robinette and McLemore would have given the Flying G’s one of the conferences best sprint groups. The abundance of sprinters would also have given Gladwin two very competitive sprint relay teams. Greenwood, Esline, Wheeler, Landenburger, Fetterolf, Stein, Damien Hendrickson, and Avery King were all vying for a place on the relays.
The hurdle events have been a strong point for Gladwin over the years and this year was no exception. Peters and Dremer “were getting a good three step down in the 110 hurdles’” said Goldsworthy. The addition of McDonald, and Willford made the group even stronger. Middle distance runners Bragg, Guoan Logan Simrau, Noah Miller and Carson Allen were to be joined by McDonald, Underwood and Edger to provide a nice balance between veterans and newcomers. “It takes guts, strong will and mental toughness to run the middle distances,” said Goldsworthy. “When you have this many guys pushing each other their times will fall. This group was poised to run well under nine minutes in the 4 x 800 relay.”
“The distance group had the potential to be one of the most hard working to come through the program in years,” continued Goldsworthy. “Over the first few days the group took several good distance runs and had a very tough endurance day.” Guoan and Bragg went back and forth during the cross-country season and are chasing Jack Pellerito’s time of 4:40 in the mile. “Jack has been the standard for Gladwin distance runners for a long time. He worked hard and gave everything he had in every race.” said Guoan. “He was a great leader on and off the track. That is how I would like this group to remember me.”
“Field events won’t be the same this year,” said Goldsworthy. “Randy Wilford was a constant and his passing will have an effect. His specialty was the pole vault and one of his athletes qualified for the state meet every season since 2005. His memory will fill the field with love and inspiration for generations to come.” Wheeler, a freshman, had a good shot at continuing the tradition. He was a likely state qualifier in the event. The high jump also looked like a strength for Gladwin this year. Several newcomers would have probably had an immediate impact. Derek Sackitt , Doan, McDonald and Nathan Stien were set to join established jumpers, Peters and Dremer, to form a solid group for the G’s.
Goldsworthy mentioned that Gutierrez had a shot to break the school record in the long jump. McLemore, Esline and Greenwood also all have the potential to be good jumpers. Throwers Chase Kukuk, Damien Hendrickson and Noah Miller were to return. They were going to be joined by newcomers Ben Penix, Hunter Huguelet and Sackitt along with freshman Coats and Wilford to give Gladwin some good depth in the events.
“Even though the season was cut short and hearts go out to the seniors Gladwin has positioned itself to become one of the premier programs in the northern area in the near future,” concluded Goldsworthy.