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Tiger T&F had title hopes in 2020

The cancellation of the 2020 Northwestern Lehigh track and field season was a bitter pill for Northwestern head coach Charles Groller.

“After hearing that the governor closed all schools for the remainder of the academic year, I was crushed,” Groller said. “While the health and safety was of utmost importance, my heart still breaks for each and every one of our athletes and what could have been. Heartbreaking is an extremely underrated word to use.”

The cancellation of the season was particularly tough for Groller’s seniors.

“Senior year of high school should be filled with exciting moments, deep friendships and special memories,” Groller said.

The Tigers had several seniors ready to compete at a high level. Girls Kristen Brown, Allie Costa, Bailey DeJesus, Morgan Duffy, Jillian Fink, Carly Fogal, Bailey Groff, Alexandra Hallingstad, Allyson Meyers and Sydney Sevrain were expected to be leaders in New Tripoli. Jacob Berardi, Deven Bollinger, Matthew Boushell, Jacob Dellicker, Rhys Fenstermaker, Luke Hallman, Ethan Hrycko, Mike Marrazzo, Gabe Miller, Joe Pleban, Mike Rebert, Matt Renner, Anthony Russo and Emmanuel Tate were the young men who were ready to lead Northwestern this spring.

Groller’s younger runners were also impacted.

“For the underclassmen, it hurts for both returnees and our newcomers,” he said. “Unfortunately, they missed out on a year of competition experience. These years are very important for them, especially for the juniors with college recruiters.”

Always the coach, Groller hopes the pandemic will be a teachable moment.

“I told them moving forward, never take anything for granted because you just never know what life will send your way,” Groller said. “I also told them to continue to train, work hard, stay in shape and most certainly to come back next year ready to compete.”

This year’s teams had high expectations. The girls team had many athletes back from a team that went 9-2 in 2019 while the boys team went 5-6 with a young squad. The Tigers were set up for more success in 2020.

“We were strong on both sides this year for track and field,” Groller said. “Our goal was to come out of the regular season as champions and have a strong showing at the Colonial League Championship meet.”

The coach also prognosticated about district and state finishes.

“Since we are Class 3A for districts, but one of the smallest schools competing against bigger schools like Parkland, Liberty, Easton and East Penn, we still would have had possibilities for some medals. As for states, it was a strong possibility for some of our athletes to qualify.”

Costa was one of the Tigers with a good chance to make states in the 1600 meters, according to Groller. qualifying relay team a year ago and has been a key member of the district champion cross country team. Another was Fogal in the triple jump. Costa will continue her career at DeSales University for cross country and track and field, while Fogal is heading to Bloomsburg for the triple jump.

Perhaps the best thing the Tigers would have had this spring was depth, the coach said.

“We were well-balanced in all 18 events including relays, but, unfortunately, it’s very sad to say, we will never know,” said Groller.

PRESS PTO BY NANCY SCHOLZAllie Costa was part ofa state-qualifying relay team in 2019.