Source: Sherman Publications

New coach, new league, high expectations for track team

by Andrew Moser

March 30, 2011

There’s a new man in charge of the Wildcats varsity boys and girls track and field teams.

On Feb. 23, the athletic department recommended to the Board of Education to hire Bob Blunk as the new varsity track and field coach. It’s a move bringing plenty of experience and success to an already successful program.

“I am ecstatic at getting this new opportunity,” Blunk said. “I am now in track heaven as I have a full eight lane track, an indoor track, two gyms and a pool, none of which I ever had before.”

Blunk has had a great amount of success throughout his 33 years of coaching cross country and track and field with Warren De La Salle Collegiate High School.

While at De La Salle, he won a Catholic League track and field championship in 1996 and four MHSAA Regional titles (1996-1997, 2006-2007). He has coached state champions in the Boys 800 meter and 3200 meter, along with dozens of all-league, all-county and all-state athletes in track and field and cross country.

His teams were also dominant on the cross country side, winning three Catholic League championships (1990, 2005-2006), seven Macomb County championships (1992-1994, 2005-2008) and six MHSAA Regional titles (1990, 1992-1993, 2006, 2008-2009).

For his efforts, Blunk was inducted into the Detroit Catholic League Hall of Fame in 1995 and will be inducted into the Macomb County Hall of Fame on May 5, 2011.

He accomplished all of that with subpar facilities.

Blunk will take over the entire 7-12 track and field program. And so far, he likes what he sees from both varsity teams.

“I have been impressed with both teams from the very start, not just with talent, but with their willingness to learn new things and their effort at practices,” he said.

“I believe we have some work to do, but our first two indoor meets have been very impressive and I believe we should do well in all of our meets this year,” he added.

On Thursday, March 24 at the Oakland County Indoor Track Meet at Macomb Community College, Darren Lumpkin finished second in the 60 meter dash with a time of 7.15 seconds and Sir Ralph Rodriguez finished second in the shot put with a distance of 49 feet, three inches.

The girls relay of Chelsea Johnson, Emily Cleland, Brianna Johonson and Brittany Johnson claimed the Distance Medley, while Sarah Hillebrand won the pole vault and set the county record at nine feet and Brooke Kovacic finished second in the 3200 meter relay with a time of 11:41.7.

On March 26, the Wildcats went to the Huron Relays. Aaron Stuk came home with a third place finish in the 60 meter high hurdles and the relay team of Brittany Johnson, Kovacic, Cleland and Chelsea Johnson finished fourth in the 4 X 800 meter relay.

In addition to a new coach, the Wildcats will have to navigate a new league with new opponents from the Oakland Activities Association. Placed in the white division, Oxford will battle Birmingham Seaholm, Rochester Stoney Creek, Southfield, North Farmington and Farmington.

Being placed in a new league hasn’t stopped Blunk from thinking a league championship isn’t out of the question, especially with the vast amount of talent he has returning to the teams this season.

The girls will be led by captains Katie Bearse, Brittany Johnson, Brooke Kovacic, Sarah Hillebrand and Anna Daves. The boys will be captioned by Aaron Stuk, Mike Cynowa, Anthony Cappuccilli, Dylan Smith, Terrence Webb and Dan Strzelecki.

“These athletes are respected among their teammates for their work efforts and enthusiasm for the sport,” Blunk said. “They have also impressed the coaching staff with their leadership skills.”

In addition to his captains, Blunk will rely on senior Megan Seeley, who can run any distance between the 200 meter and 1600 meter, junior Michelle Gilmore in the sprints and hurdles and freshman Briana Jackson to score points for the girls.

On the boys squad, he knows he can count on seniors Shane Kerbelis, Curtis Kocher, Daniel Peck, Sir Ralph Rodriguez, Connor Risinger, Anthony McDugald and juniors Collin Goetz, Doug Klimbal, Alec Smith and Cody Westmoreland to score points for his squad.

The Wildcats opened up the OAA portion of their schedule March 29 at Birmingham Seaholm.