One of the more enjoyable things for me every year when I'm covering the state track and field meet is finding out where the area's best athletes will compete collegiately in just a few short weeks.
Ohio has a rich tradition in track, and the talent that was pumped from the Columbus area from the 2013 graduating class only enhanced that.
Four of the state's biggest stars this year, Pickerington North's Desmond Palmer, Olentangy Orange's Katelyn Daniels, Westerville North's Jacob Dumford and Eastmoor Academy's Aaliyah Barnes, all will compete for major Division I programs. Several others from the area also will be competing at the Division I or II level next year.
Although this is not comprehensive (in other words, this is not everybody), I thought I'd put together a list of where some of the area's athletes will be competing:
Desmond Palmer, Pickerington North -- After winning the 110 and 300 hurdles and running on two state-title relays, he will compete for Pittsburgh.
Katelyn Daniels, Orange -- She won state in the shot put and discus and will throw for Michigan State.
Aaliyah Barnes, Eastmoor -- After winning the 100, placing in the top three in two other individual events and running on a first-place relay, she will compete for Ohio State.
Jacob Dumford, Westerville North -- He won the 1,600, ran on the first-place 3,200 relay and will compete for Notre Dame.
Dominik Seitzer, Reynoldsburg -- He rallied to earn a state runner-up finish in the 800 and will compete for Ohio State.
Charlie Moushey, Westerville Central -- Moushey was second at state in the pole vault and will go to Kentucky.
Richard Dahome, Westerville South -- Was 15th in the 110 hurdles while battling a back injury. He will go to Kent State.
Joe Mankovecky, Watterson -- Mankovecky won his second consecutive high jump state title and will compete for Cornell.
Riak Reese, Gahanna -- He won the 100 and 200 championships and will run for Kent State.
Daniella Johnson, Gahanna -- She ran on the state runner-up 400 relay and will compete for Akron.
Lauren Hoover, Hilliard Davidson -- Hoover won the 800 at state, ran on the fifth-place 3,200 relay and will attend Miami U.
Mallory McCormick, Hartley -- She competed on a relay at the state meet and will compete for Ohio Wesleyan.
Reyna Montgomery, Gahanna -- She ran on relays at state as a freshman and senior and will compete in track and basketball for Ohio Dominican.
Diamond Gause, Reynoldsburg -- After winning the 100 and 200, she's perhaps the best athlete who still has yet to make her college decision. Her sister, Destinee, is a freshman who competes for the University of Florida.
Pickerington Central boys track and field coach Jason Roach knows a good opportunity when he sees one, particularly when it's involving something he's so familiar with.
When Nathan Kosnich and Alex Nichols spent time this spring trying to figure out where to attend college, Roach encouraged them to check out his alma mater, Rio Grande.
The fact that they'll be receiving aid to compete there I'm sure enhanced their desire to pick Rio Grande, but it probably didn't hurt the school's case that they had a supporter who was so close to the program.
According to a press receive we received from Rio Grande earlier this week, Nichols and Kosnich each will compete for the RedStorm next year.
Nichols is competing at the state track meet this weekend in the shot put and discus while Kosnich finished fifth at the regional in the 110 hurdles.
"Competing at the college level has been a goal of mine since my freshman year in high school," Nichols told Rio Grande. "I'm really happy that I have that opportunity."
"I am very excited," Kosnich told Rio Grande. "This is the realization of a dream that I've had for as long as I can remember."
It was good to see Gahanna senior Canyon Teague stay healthy the past few months after injuries kept him from enjoying the amount of success he was hoping to a year ago.
Teague did make it to the Division I state boys tennis tournament as a junior, losing in the first round, but his senior season was topped in central Ohio only by Upper Arlington senior Stu Little.
After going through the regular season undefeated and then winning a sectional title, Teague lost his first match this season in a district final to Little and entered the Division I state tournament May 31 and June 1 as a No. 2 seed.
When he saw the state tournament bracket, he had to have smiled just a little bit considering he'd probably run into a future teammate.
Teague was placed in the same portion of the bracket as Lodi Cloverleaf senior Jacob Dunbar, who like Teague will play collegiately for the University of Richmond.
Two wins by both would ensure a matchup in a state semifinal. While Dunbar had no trouble advancing that far, Teague needed three sets to beat Willoughby South's Vince Anzalone 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to set up the meeting with Dunbar.
Teague then lost to his future teammate 6-3, 6-4, but he gave Dunbar one of his tougher matches on his way to capturing the state title.
It proved to be one of the more memorable moments of the tournament for Teague, who lost to Little in the consolation and finished the season at 33-3.
"(Dunbar) kept the ball in and is really smart," Teague said. "He's been a top national player his whole life. I'm very excited for him winning it and we're both excited to be on the same team together next year."
Dunbar and Teague will become teammates with Dunbar's older brother, 2010 Cloverleaf graduate Ethan Dunbar, who was a redshirt sophomore this year for the Spiders and was a three-time state qualifier.
Little, meanwhile, will play for the University of Pennsylvania.
Chris Frey is hoping the Upper Arlington football team's defense takes a step forward next fall after losing back-to-back games by 38 or more points for the first time in program history early last season.
The 6-2, 217-pound outside linebacker then will play for a defense he has great respect for -- Michigan State's.
On May 15, Frey verbally committed to become the eighth member of the Spartans' 2014 recruiting class. According to this Detroit Free Press article, Frey will graduate early and enroll at MSU in January of 2014 so he can participate in spring football.
Frey is ranked the 38th-best outside linebacker in the nation according to Rivals.com.
"I chose Michigan State for a few reasons," Frey said. "One (is) the fact that they are great on the defensive side of the ball. (The Spartans are) top of the Big Ten and top five in the nation. Two, the coaching staff. The coaching staff is amazing. They showed me so much love and showed me that I could be a key part of the defense. I could get playing time early.
"And lastly, academics. I will get a great degree from there."
Last season, UA ended on a three-game winning streak to go 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Central Division.
Frey was first-team all-league and special mention all-district after finishing with 31 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and 136 total tackles. He also rushed for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns on 67 carries and caught six passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns while playing running back.
Jun 20, 2013 | Currently: 60° Partly Cloudy