There will be no shortage of fresh faces on the Cedar Grove-Belgium track and field teams this season.
More than half of the Rockets’ roster is made up of underclassmen, and the teams have a new leader.
Brandon Langer has succeeded Les Paul as head coach. Although he’s new to the top spot, Langer has coached the past decade in the school district, mostly at the middle school level in track, cross country and basketball.
Langer ran track and cross country at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire from 1996 to 2001 and teaches seventh-grade math at Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School.
“My coaching philosophy focuses on the big meets in May and using the months of March and April to work on strength, speed, technique and racing tactics, while allowing athletes to discover their talents and how to best utilize their skill set,” Langer said.
The Rockets have four seniors but no returning state qualifiers. Last season’s top athletes — three-event state medalist Aaron Chier and distance standout Lily Paul — both graduated.
For the girls, half of the 18-member team were sectional qualifiers last season. They include Rylee Isken, Melanie Obbink, Alex Weiland, Liz Bruggink, Emily Sass, Kaili Depies, Maggie Turchinski, Nicole Veldhorst and Emily Bennett.
“I expect our jumpers to perform well, and the distance crew should be strong again, along with some sprinters leading our relays,” Langer said.
The boys’ team has 23 athletes, including returning sectional qualifiers Ian Ison, Stephen Lavey and Ethan Brochtrup.
“We have some strong distance runners that should lead the team, as well as some new throwers and a couple of sprinters that could be strong,” Langer said.
The combined teams are made up of about 40% freshmen and 60% underclassmen. The only seniors are Kaili Depies, Dan Gjertson, Sam Ritter and Veldhorst.
“Our expectations are still high, however. I expect us to compete for the (Big East) conference title if we continue to work hard and can stay healthy,” Langer said.
Cedar Grove-Belgium opened the season last Friday at the Nelson-Daniels Classic in Whitewater (see related story).
Photo Credit: DISTANCE RUNNERS should be a strength for the Cedar Grove-Belgium boys’ track and field team this season. Expected to be among the leaders are Ian Ison (42) and Eric Isken (37), shown during the fall cross-country season. Photo by Sam Arendt