For the first time since 2011, the Bexley High School boys and girls track and field teams both will be represented in the Division II state meet.
In the regional May 29 and 31 at Lexington, senior Ian Kellogg qualified for state in the boys 1,600 meters for the second consecutive year and senior Lissy Schmidt advanced in the girls 300 hurdles. Schmidt is the first member of the girls team to qualify for state since 2011.
They will compete Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7, at Ohio State.
Kellogg, a Michigan State signee, was runner-up in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 26.3 seconds) at regional behind Sparta Highland's Kevin Jones (4:24.28) a week after he was second (4:28.39) in the district 1 meet behind Jones (4:27.52).
"I'm really proud. After he raced, he came and stood next to some of us coaches and we were talking. I said, 'You didn't have to dive this time,' " boys coach Shane Roberts said, referring to how Kellogg dived across the finish line at last year's regional to earn the final state-qualifying berth. "He is one of the top 16 in the state. For some, that would be good enough, but not for Ian. He's been there, done that. Now he's back."
Kellogg came up short of qualifying for state in two other events. He was 12th in the 800 (2:03.66) and ran the anchor leg on the fifth-place 3,200 relay (8:07.93) that included senior Peter Hayden, junior Jim DeLaCruz and senior Nathaniel Agnoli.
At district, Kellogg placed second in the 800 (1:59.92), again behind Jones (1:58.39).
The top four in each district event advanced to regional, and the top four in each regional event advanced to state.
Also for the boys team at regional, junior Andre Stewart finished 11th in the 300 hurdles (41.86) and 15th in the 110 hurdles (17.06). Also participating but not qualifying for state were sophomore Youssef Abouhashish in the discus (ninth, 139 feet, 7 inches) and the 400 relay of sophomore Corbin Thompson, senior Rasheed Morgan, Stewart and senior Chad Meyer (seventh, season-best 43.84).
The boys finished 19th (14 points) at regional behind champion Pemberville Eastwood (61) as 46 teams scored. In the district meet that concluded May 24 at Heath, they were third (71) behind champion Liberty Union (106) as 15 teams scored.
For the girls, Schmidt followed up her district title in the 300 hurdles (46.54) with a third-place finish (personal-best 45.63) at regional.
"I am extremely proud of Lissy for what she has accomplished this year," girls coach Jamie Hayes said. "Last season ended with disappointment when she had a bad race at regionals. I know she thought about that race a lot and used it as motivation for this year."
Schmidt also ran the anchor leg on the 1,600 relay that was 14th (4:17.41) and included junior Spencer Halliday, sophomore Tyler Mansfield and senior Emily Callahan.
Also competing at regional but failing to advance were junior Mary Tugend in the 100 hurdles (seventh, 16.56) and long jump (10th, 15-4), Halliday in the 800 (sixth, 2:23.33) and senior Meghan Hayden in the 3,200 (10th, 12:09.75).
The girls tied for 22nd (11) at regional behind champion Orrville (63) as 42 teams scored. At district, they were fourth (59) behind champion Heath (70) as 21 teams scored.
"I am really happy with our performance (at regional), and don't use our place as a team as a measure of how we did," Hayes said. "Making it to regionals is a big accomplishment, but we didn't just show up, we competed.
"Everyone ran and jumped their best. As a coach, there's nothing more you can ask for."
Boys tennis coach pleased with season
Boys tennis coach Mark Liefeld liked the progress his team made this season and enjoyed what he saw from his players down the stretch.
The Lions went 8-10 overall, including 5-1 (37 points) in the MSL-Ohio Division to finish second behind Columbus Academy (6-0, 50 points). Bexley also placed second (8) behind Academy (14) in the league tournament April 26 at London.
"As for our overall record, I'm not too concerned about that," said Liefeld, who completed the first season of his second stint with the Lions. "We played a very tough schedule outside the league and I think we showed improvement throughout the season. I was pleased with the way we finished the season."
The doubles team of senior Max Knox-Kelly and sophomore Shai Saar won a Division II sectional title May 18 at Columbus School for Girls, defeating top-seed Lincoln Ficek and Nick Sweeney of Wellington 7-5, 6-4 in the final. Seniors Ethan Goodstein and Logan Wilhelm fell in the third-place doubles match, but advanced to district with Knox-Kelly and Saar.
At district May 23 and 24 at Academy, Knox-Kelly and Saar fell to eventual state runners-up Ryan Jung and Shrikar Kundur of Academy, 6-2, 6-0 in a semifinal. Goodstein and Wilhelm lost in the first round.
"I was particularly pleased with our play at the sectional tournament where Shai Saar and Max Knox-Kelly upset the No. 1 seed to win the sectional and Ethan Goodstein and Logan Wilhelm advanced by finishing fourth," Liefeld said. "I was also very pleased with the way that T.J. Phelps played in singles, where he came very close to advancing to the district."
While Knox-Kelly, Goodstein and Wilhelm will be lost to graduation, Saar, Phelps, Cody Rawlings, Gauthier Knox-Kelly and Andy Ingwerson are expected to return.
"The main thing we need to improve on is offseason preparation. We didn't have enough players spending the time that we are used to seeing and I think our returning players have a better understanding of what is needed to compete at the level we will be playing," Liefeld said.
Lack of depth hurt boys lacrosse team
The boys lacrosse team's season didn't go as coach Rich Russo had hoped, as the Lions finished 3-12.
"I scheduled a very difficult schedule, we had some injuries and some circumstances where my lineup got a little thinner than I anticipated," said Russo, whose roster dwindled from 35 to 24. "That hurt us. We just didn't have the depth and we fell apart.
"We were in a lot of games at the half, but we ran out of steam and got worn down."
The Lions started 2-3, but dropped their next six contests. Bexley, which closed with a 17-5 loss at Granville in a Division II Central/Northwest Region tournament play-in game May 21, was outscored 178-124 this season.
Bexley had five players receive all-region recognition led by senior midfielder Cole Keny, who was a first-team selection for the second consecutive season. Junior defender Anders Pedon and junior attacker Colby Nebel were second-team all-region, and junior midfielder Taylor Farthing and freshman goalkeeper Zach Welsh were honorable mention.
While the Lions lose seven seniors, they also will need a new coach, as Russo resigned following his fifth season. He said being able to watch his two daughters participate in youth sports was the biggest factor in his decision.
"Am I happy with being 3-12? Absolutely not. Am I happy with how the kids fought and gave me everything every single game? Absolutely," Russo said. "I love the fact that our youth program is blossoming and our numbers are way up in the youth program, which will sustain our program.
"I hope the next coach continues to keep expectations high. Great things will come down the line."