Wilmington High School girls track and field head coach Roger Ilg said the 2020 season was like driving down the highway and then, without warning … .
“The road just ends,” he said.
The cancelled season has put Wilmington in catch-up mode this season as each class lost “a year of valuable experience,” said Ilg.
Ilg, as always, is assisted by Eileen Grosse. Both are members of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame. Ilg has been coaching 33 years; Grosse 39 years. Other coaches in the program are Jasmine Tolbert and Morgan Combs at the middle school level.
Wilmington was third at the SBAAC American Division Track and Field Championship in 2019, finishing behind champion New Richmond and runnerup Western Brown.
But a lot has changed since then. No longer on the team are Anna Borton, Skye Carpenter, Jasmine Jamiel, Samantha McCord, Maggie Simonson, Aaliyah Huff and Jordan Snarr among others. Sophomore Sophie Huffman is out with an injury.
There are 17 letterwinners returning, including seven who were points scorers in 2019 — Izzy Coomer, Mercedes Bowman, Maddy Rickman, Kaitlynn Hickey, Emilee Pham, Sylena Baltazar, Mckenzie Voges-Pertuset.
Newcomers to note include Liv Hisco, Courtney Parker, Taylor Noszka, Adriana Benitez, Madilyn Brausch, Makenna Tolliver, Hannah Scott, Aeris McDaniel and Lexi McKee-Cole.
Ilg said Pham has taken a solid leadership role on the team, by her own example of how to get things done.
“(Pham) has earned everyone’s respect and may be the most positive athlete I know,” he said.
Overall Ilg and Grosse believe this team is willing to listen and learn but lack experience. There are key parts in place but some of those without experience must step up for Wilmington to compete for the league title.
“We are excited about our possibilities for the season but we also understand that we need to be patient, become better teachers and ask more of our upperclassmen,” said Ilg.
The Lady Hurricane roster consists of seniors Sylena Baltazar, Sadie Bowman, Izzy Coomer, Liv Hisco, Emilee Pham and Maddy Rickman; juniors Liz Guard, Kaitlynn Hickey, Lexi McKee-Cole, Jess Seward, Makiya Sherman, Sydney Totten, McKenzie Voges-Pertuset and Courtney Parker; sophomores Kalli Abbitt, Adriana Benitez, Dani Brannon, Brianna Brunke, Alice Clair, Ava Hester, Sophie Huffman, Aeris McDaniel and Taylor Noszka; and freshmen Elizabeth Allen, Madilyn Brausch, Bryann Bryant, Hannah Scott and Makenna Tolliver.