The Western Reserve Academy boys track and field team enjoyed a successful 2014 season, finishing the year with an overall record of 27-18, which included a 22-4 mark over the season's final four weeks.
The Pioneers started out the season slowly as they worked to overcome the loss of several talented seniors from the previous year.
But once they worked out the kinks over the first two weeks, finishing ninth at the Longstreth Relays and seventh at the Nordonia Relays, the team took off and posted four consecutive second-place finishes.
"Going into the season, I wasn't sure how good we would be," said longtime head coach Gerard Manoli. "We had lost a lot of great talent to graduation and although we had 60 boys come out for the team, many were new and lacked experience.
"I told the boys during preseason that they'd have to work hard to get in shape quickly and that we might not do too well the first few weeks. But I also told them that if they worked hard, then I truly believed the talent was here to be a good team.
"This team had no stars. What we did have was balance and depth in all five areas -- the throws, the jumps, the hurdles, the sprints and distance."
While the team had no stars, Reserve was led by senior letter winners Robert Head (co-Most Valuable Performer), Hudson resident Nate Lund (Carl Basnett Award winner), Jae Min Shim, Alex Wheaton, Jabril Smith, Alex Balli and Mitch Pollock.
Even with the departure of the senior class, the Pioneers expect to field a strong team next season, thanks in part to 22 returning letter winners, including junior co-MVP Kendall Anderson, junior co-Most Improved Runners Ajay Dakappagari and sophomore Danny Mylott and co-Coaches Award recipients Max Borrmann, a sophomore from Hudson, and sophomore Colton Roe.
"We'll miss the seniors, but we have a fine nucleus returning upon which to build a very competitive team in 2015," Manoli said.
In addition to the work done by his assistant coaches, Thomas Adams-Wall, Mike Morris, Jeff Skonieczny and Adam Yankay, Manoli acknowledged the contributions made by retiring faculty member Jim Fraser.
"Señor has coached track at WRA every spring for the past 47 years and in particular, the distance runners for the past 30-plus years," Manoli said. "He has been a huge asset to our program and a big part of our success. He has been by my side the past 25 years and WRA, boys track and I will miss him dearly."
The Pioneers will be led in by senior tri-captains Mat Haemer, Ryan Hassell and Hudson resident Brett Kramer.