Improvement is the main thing Mike Srodawa hopes to see this season for the Tallmadge boys track and field team.
The Blue Devils are coming off a 1-5 record and a sixth-place finish in the Suburban League American Conference a year ago. They lost key contributors Ned Spragling and Fernando Wanton to graduation.
"We had a very large freshman class and a very small senior class last year, so we definitely had some growing pains," said Srodawa, who is entering his 20th season as head coach. "We've got some talented kids this year, though."
Leading the way for Tallmadge will be sophomore Lucca Passarelli, a returning letter winner who is a high jumper and hurdler.
"Lucca was runner-up in the American Conference at the Suburban League Championships last year," Srodawa said. "This past winter, he was all-state in the high jump at the Division I indoor state meet. He definitely has the potential to jump probably about four inches higher than he did there, which would put him at 6 feet, 6 inches."
Sophomore Nick Hussing, another returning letter winner, will be a long jumper and middle-distance runner.
The long-distance runners will be junior twins Vince Labosky and John Labosky, both returning letter winners, and their classmate Ryan Riter, who is a first-year team member.
"All three worked really hard during the off-season," Srodawa said. "Ryan is coming off successful cross country and swimming seasons."
Juniors Matt Kieke and Blake Bockus, two more returning letter winners, will compete in the shot put and discus. Both athletes put a lot of time in the weight room during the off-season.
Other returning letter winners include seniors Jacob Brieding, Logan George, Dan Hepler, Jordan Sapper and Vincent Sgro; junior Ricky Clark; and sophomores Sean Ambrose, Garrett Ansley, Zach Brown, Vinnie Dao, Andrew Hipkins, Kamden Kalmar, Ryan Kaufman, Alex Krukemeyer and Richard Quintell.
Other top newcomers will be senior Hunter Sally and junior Seth Baker.
"In the American Conference Highland has a solid group returning, Copley usually is pretty tough, especially in the sprints and jumps, Aurora had a really successful season last year and Kent Roosevelt was a solid group as well," Srodawa said. "It's a pretty tough conference. Our team is a hardworking group and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do this year."
Srodawa's assistant coaches are John Gergely, Jeremy Huth, Laura McElrath, David Staszak and Mike Hay.
Tallmadge was scheduled to open its season April 1 at the Newton Falls Invitational. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils are set to visit Kent Roosevelt April 4 at 4 p.m. and are scheduled to host the Bill Barry Invitational April 7 at 3:30 p.m.