By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The high school boys track and field preview for the Aurora Greenmen’s 2023 season:
Head Coach: Chris Radtke, 9th year.
Coaching Staff: Greg Cicero, Mark Dingman, Brendan Gallagher, Dave Kindall, Tom Nalepa, Jenna Schadle, Megan Watt.
2022 Record: 5-1 Suburban League American Division, 2nd at Suburban League Touranament, 4th at Austintown Fitch District.
State Qualifiers: Aiden Henderson (high jump).
Returning Lettermen (14): Tyler Ertle, sr.; Max Bailey, sr.; Charlie Carpenter, sr.; Ben Stockdale, sr.; Ryan Kerchenski, sr.; Grant Thieving, sr.; Porter Aardema, sr.; Robbie Will, jr.; Tommy Ploskunak, jr.; Leo Sesuraj, jr.; Alex Hanff, jr.; Rocco Courted, jr.; Zack Ploskunak, soph.; Connor Flynn, soph.
Lettermen Lost (7): Aiden Henderson, Ryan Kotora, Andy Ploskunak, Matt Singleton, Jacob Matousek, Nate Ruehr, Matt Studer.
Underclassmen to Watch: Athan Salgado (200, 400), Quincy John (100, 200), Michael Iwan (100, 200), Connor Flynn (400, 800), Zack Ploskunak (1,600, 3,200), Nate Eminian (800, 1,600, 3,200).
“With 66 young men on the roster, we are pleased so many athletes in Aurora High School want to be part of the track program,” Radtke said. “Forty-one are freshmen and sophomores, so we are excited to see what will happen this year with so many young competitors paced by some veteran leadership — there are 15 seniors on the squad.
“We hope to build on the success of last season, with some notable depth that has been a hallmark of our team the last couple of years,” Radtke added. “The work ethic we’ve seen so far has been commendable.”
Tyler Ertle highlights the Greenmen group this season. He will compete in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
“Tyler will be our strongest sprinter, who was amongst our best last year, but was just a bit behind some very talented seniors,” Radtke said of Ertle, who will also compete in the high jump. “This will be his season to shine. No one has worked harder thus far.”
Charlie Carpenter was Aurora’s top hurdler last season, and he returns to the roster this year.
“We are looking forward to seeing how much improvement he will make this year,” Radtke said.
Zach Nemet, though a senior, is a new face to the track team this year, but has shown promise.
“His workouts have been impressive. He is looking forward to proving what he can do on the track as a rookie,” Radtke said.
Another senior, Madon Ganzhorn, is also new to track this season.
“Madon’s work ethic and positive attitude is infectious and the underclassmen have noticed,” Radtke said.
Two talented runners, Porter Aardema and Robbie Will, get the opportunity to spotlight the distance group this season.
Aardema will run in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, while Will will run in the 800 and 1,600 meters.
“Porter was part of a very deep and talented distance group last year and the syear can now step out into the spotlight of his own,” Radtke said. “Robbie was one of our best distance runners last year, and with the loss of Matt Singleton and Andy Ploskunak (to graduation), he will set the pace in the half and the mile.”
Tommy Ploskunak is another talented runner for the Greenmen and joins Will and Aardema at the top of the team’s depth in the 1,600 and 3,200.
“Tommy was part of the depth we had in the distance events last year. We are expecting a great deal of Tommy, as he movesinto a leadership role on this team,” Radtke said.
Similar to Nemet and Ganzhorn in the sprint events, Zachary Zabell is a first-year track runner for Aurora.
However, he is not new to distance running.
“Zachary has a great deal of experience on the cross-country course, but now will bring his talents to the all-weather track for the first time,” Radtke said.
Zabell will run the 800 and 1,600 meters.
Three standouts spotlight the field events for the Greenmen, with Max Bailey and Rocco Courtad in the discus and shot put and Ben Stockdale in the pole vault.
Bailey is the Suburban League’s defending champion in the discus.
“He is looking forward to showing how much he has improved,” Radtke said.
Courtad was new to the track team in 2022 and quickly learned the process of throwing.
“He came a long way and was our best in the shot put,” Radtke said. “He’s even stronger this year and with that experience, we can’t wait to see what he does in the circle.”
Stockdale is also coming off a league championship and continued to work hard in the off-season to improve further.
“He hopes to soar above his 12-foot best from last year, while defending his league crown,” Radtke said.
“I am optimistic every year, but this year I feel that we have some needed depth from a talented freshmen class and also from some experienced veteran leadership,” Radtke said. “It is a great mix, where the squad competes hard at every practice and maintains a positive team outlook.”
“Because we are young and are counting on some first-time runners, we won’t know exactly what we have until we open up the season with Kent Roosevelt and see how we compete under pressure,” Radtke said. “But this squad has been having so much fun — despite the weather and some pretty tough workouts — I am sure they will answer any challenge that comes their way.”
April 5: vs. Kent Roosevelt
April 12: vs. Stow
April 26: at Tallmadge
April 28: at Chardon
May 2: vs. Cuyahoga Falls
May 8: Suburban League Championships at Tallmadge
May 10: Suburban League Championships at Tallmadge
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