Mark Berndt has been pleasantly surprised by how the St. Charles Preparatory School lacrosse team has performed during his first full season as coach.

Mark Berndt has been pleasantly surprised by how the St. Charles Preparatory School lacrosse team has performed during his first full season as coach.

The Cardinals were 6-3 overall before playing Bexley on April 23, and their only losses were to top-flight programs. They lost to Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier 14-7 on March 24 in the Midwest Catholic Championships in South Bend, Ind., as well as to perennial state-champion Upper Arlington 11-5 on April 3 and to Dublin Coffman 17-10 on April 20.

"We have played a pretty good schedule and have done well," said Berndt, who coached the final two games last season after seventh-year coach Bill Taylor resigned. "Louisville St. Xavier is one of only two teams to win state titles in Kentucky and UA is always good. We wish we could have done better against Dublin Coffman, but hopefully we can rebound from that and get back on track."

Before losing to the Shamrocks, St. Charles had won three consecutive games since its loss to the Golden Bears. The Cardinals defeated Lexington (Ky.) Dunbar 17-7 on April 11, Lexington (Ky.) Tates Creek 9-8 in overtime April 13 and Westerville South 14-5 on April 17.

"I think the guys have adapted well because we have changed around the way that we approach things," said Berndt, whose team played Westerville Central on April 25. "We're more run-and-gun on offense and guys really have bought into that up-tempo style."
Competitive practices also have helped the Cardinals during games.

"We pared down the varsity roster and the smaller unit has been more competitive, which has made for fierce competition in practice," Berndt said. "That has made it a competitive up-tempo environment that has worked to make us a better team."

Berndt said senior Ryan Finneran and sophomore Ryan Cleary have been strong on the attack, senior Dominic Julian has been a leader in the midfield and senior Trevor Lawler has anchored the defense.

"Ryan Finneran and Ryan Cleary have been a big part of what we have done on the crease attack," he said. "They are not only getting goals in the stat sheet, but they have also been riding teams well as (the opponents) work to get back into the offensive end of the field. We have generated a lot of turnovers from riding."

The Cardinals play Saturday, April 28, at home against Thomas Worthington and Monday, April 30, at Westerville North.

Track team working to find identity

The track team finished 10th (26 points) in the 13-team Fulton Relays on April 20 at Lancaster behind champion Pickerington North (76).
Coach Al Hostetler said the Cardinals remain a work in progress.

"We're trying to find ourselves right now," he said. "We have had good efforts, but when we were on spring break we only had half of the guys there, which made things kind of a hodgepodge. The kids are sometimes frustrated because they aren't where they want to be, but we're looking in the coming weeks for kids to start peaking and hitting the times they should be."

Health also has been an issue for the Cardinals.

"We're OK right now, but we're still fighting through some injuries," Hostetler said. "We did some good things (at Lancaster) and I think some of the pieces are coming together.

"The big injury has been with (senior) Stevyn (Spees, a Division I state qualifier in the 400 meters last season). He has had trouble with the arch in one of his feet. We've been walking on eggshells trying to get him back and hopefully he will be better in time for the championship season."

At Lancaster, Conner Bowman, Tom Krajnak, Brian Vetter and Nick Marino finished seventh in the 6,400 relay (19 minutes, 28.41 seconds). Krajnak, Alex Polinskova, Dalton Dooley and Quentin Francis were fourth in the 1,600 relay (3:26.98).

Finishing sixth were the 800 relay of John Radney, Myles Everett, Justin Law and Gunner Francis (1:33.53) and the 3,200 relay of Brady Wilson, Will Herriman, Ben Carlisle and Krajnak (8:39.04).

"Relay meets are great right now because we get more kids racing. That's our goal right now," Hostetler said. "We want to get the kids racing a lot of 200s and 400s because that's part of the teaching process and so they can feel what they need to do to be competitive at different distances."