Dylan Baumbach did his best to fight off the freshman wall last year.
He's determined to do even better this spring.
Baumbach, who ran the third leg of Sandwich's state-qualifying 1,600-meter relay team last season, is among the top athletes for the Indians going into this year.
"He's a lot stronger," Sandwich coach Garrett Ryan said. "He didn't play basketball this winter and he hit the weight room really hard. He's a year older and more mature. He is for sure one of our better athletes."
Sandwich's numbers are slightly down, with 34 boys out, but it's a mixed bag. The Indians should be fairly deep in the sprints, hurdles and especially the throwing events. But Sandwich currently only has four distance runners and is thin in the jumps.
Baumbach is expected to run the sprint relays and the open 400 this spring as a sophomore. He took fourth at Reed-Custer in 56.34 seconds.
"I like where he's at," Ryan said. "We have a ways to go but he's definitely put in the work."
Junior Sam Brunoehler, whose brother Jessie is the school record-holder in the 300 hurdles, will run the sprint relays and hurdles. He took fourth in the 60-meter hurdles at Reed-Custer in 9.72 seconds.
"With two years under his belt he's got a lot stronger," Ryan said.
Another junior, Max Pinkowski, enjoyed a coming-out party at sectionals last year, going over 40 feet in the triple jump. He's already broken that personal best indoors.
"He kind of had the light bulb come on," Ryan said. "I think he will continue to progress. From my experience the jump from sophomore to junior year is where guys really figure it out."
Sandwich has been especially strong in the throwing events, notably with 2013 Class 2A discus champion Ryan Njegovan. That should be the case again.
Juniors Levi Franklin and Derek Murphy lead a group of close to 18 throwers. Murphy threw the shot put close to 45 feet at Reed-Custer.
"I think we have a chance to place two in both throwing events at outdoor conference," Ryan said. "That's a testament to coach Stewart and what he's created."
Others expected to contribute include senior Cody Hulon, juniors Brady and Brett Butler, junior Seth Randa and freshmen Mason Kellog, Nick Lidinsky and Jacob Mosher.
The Indians open their outdoor season April 3 at Sycamore. While Sandwich is a bit thin in some areas, there is reason for optimism. Over 100 kids combined between boys and girls are out for middle school track.
"Those numbers are a positive indication," Ryan said. "While we lack numbers I think we have a lot of potential and talent on this team."