Spring is finally here, which means a new season for the Kenmore West boys and girls track teams. Head coach Mike Panepinto will lead the girls in his 19th season, and they are coming off a 9-4 record (3-2 in NFL) in 2018. Marty Madore is entering his 16th season leading the Kenmore West boys track team, and they are also coming off a strong season.
“Our biggest team strength is definitely going to be our middle distance and distance athletes,” Panepinto said. “After graduating Christina Wende last year [now running track at UB], we will have to get contributions from multiple areas. I believe that we have the potential to do that.”
Panepinto has several seniors, juniors and sophomores whom he expects to make big impacts this season. Sophomores Charlotte Boal and Laura Cohn are mid-distance runners who will primarily be involved with the 400- and 800-meter races. Boal also does sprinting events for the Lady Blue Devils.
Seniors Abby Knab, Audrey Holden and Alanna Krug are also strong mid-distance runners who are looking for strong performances in their last high school track season. Knab also is involved with the high jump.
Sophomore Lily Holden is the top distance runner, as she participates in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs. Fellow sophomore Jada Mahfoud is a sprinter and mid-distance runner for the Lady Blue Devils. In the field, senior Mia Madore is the leader in shot put and discus for Kenmore West.
Kaye Panagopoulos is a senior hurdler, sprinter and long jumper while Kayla Leon is a hurdler and triple jumper. Junior Karleigh Zack is a solid mid-distance runner and high jumper, according to Panepinto.
Some new runners this year who he thinks should make big impacts this year are Madeline Frank, who runs mid-distance events, and Meghan Jones, who is a sprinter. Kenmore West, for both boys and girls, is part of the Niagara Frontier League [NFL] along with Kenmore East, Charter School for Applied Technologies [CSAT], Niagara Falls, Niagara
Wheatfield, Lockport, Lewiston-Porter, North Tonawanda and Grand Island.
“As always, our goal is to be competitive in our Niagara Frontier League dual meets and be peaking at the NFL and Sectional championship meets,” Panepinto said. “I am excited to see this team come together. I believe we will be competitive, and if the mix of veteran and rookie talent comes together, I think we will be very competitive.”
For the boys team, Madore also has plenty of talent to work with this year. Seniors Mark Marelli, Vince Mendez and John Speyer are veterans who will lead the Blue Devils in 2019. Marelli is involved with the 110-meter high hurdles, and he worked on the 55-meter hurdles during the indoor track season.
Mendez is the top distance runner for Kenmore West as he is involved with the 1,600-, 3,200- and 4×800-meter races. Speyer is a middle-distance runner, so he specializes in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter, as well as the 4×800- and 4×400-meter races.
Pole vaulter Chris Kaszynski figures to be a huge part of the team’s scoring in the field events, as he qualified for the state meet during indoor track. Senior Makhi Morgan is a discus thrower while Will McGonagle is a long and triple jumper.
Junior Aaron Mendez, Vince’s younger brother, excels in the mid-distance events, such as the 800- and 400-meter races. Junior Jerry Rott is a 400-meter runner and is involved with the 4×400-meter relay. Madore talked about how his team stacks up compared to the rest of the NFL and why he feels like some good results are on the horizon.
“I don’t think we’re going to win a lot of our dual meets, but we’re looking to improve throughout the season,” Madore said. “Our only meet so far was the Warrior Relays, but our schedule will pick up very soon. We’re looking to improve every meet, and I expect us to finish around the middle of the NFL.