After battling a hamstring injury throughout much of the regular season, Alonzo Saxton found his comfort zone during the postseason for the Hartley High School boys track and field team.
During the 800-meter relay final June 7 in the Division II state meet at Ohio State, the Hawks were fourth early on but stayed in the race long enough to make a move once Saxton got the baton for the anchor leg.
Although Hartley entered state after taking fourth at regional, the relay ended up earning a state runner-up finish in 1 minute, 28.62 seconds.
Opening the relay was senior Jacob Mercier, followed by juniors Kristopher Hill and Mateo Saxton.
"I just started running on the curve," Alonzo Saxton said. "The curve is my best part. I tried to get the (Dayton) Dunbar dude (senior Curtis Boyd) but he's real fast. I'll settle for second."
While Hill and Mercier were mainstays on the relay all season, junior Cameron Hart had anchored the relay at times before Alonzo Saxton took on the role during the postseason.
Mateo Saxton didn't run in the final of the event at district or regional but filled in at state for sophomore Richard Jones III, who was unavailable.
According to Alonzo Saxton, the Hawks had higher expectations coming into the postseason for the 400 relay that he ran on with Hart, Jones and Mercier, but Hart injured his hamstring during the final in the district 1 meet and the relay took fifth (44.28).
"We started out running (the 800 relay) in 1:35, but we got down to 1:28," said Mercier, who will play football for Ohio Dominican while Alonzo Saxton will play football for Duke. "We knew we had a chance to be here."
Also at state, Hill took 12th in the 200 (22.39).
"I'm blessed to be able to make it to state," he said. "I felt pretty good (in the 200) and dropped time, but just wish I would have made it to (the) finals."
The Hawks tied for 29th (8) at state behind champion Dunbar (47) as 76 teams scored.
Hill, Mateo Saxton, Hart and Jones should be the top returnees next season.
The boys placed third (57) in the CCL meet May 15 and 17 behind St. Charles (188) and host DeSales (91) and ahead of Ready (27) and Watterson (13). They then finished eighth (44) behind champion Liberty Union (106) in the 15-team district 1 meet that concluded May 24 at Heath.
On May 29 and 31 in the regional at Lexington, the Hawks tied for 22nd (11) behind champion Pemberville Eastwood (61) as 46 teams scored.
Others eligible to return are juniors Elijah Dowdy (sprints, hurdles) and J'Air Wheelwright (sprints, long jump).
Hart was a regional qualifier in the long jump and high jump, but he was unable to compete in the long jump May 29 and then was unable to clear a height in the high jump May 31.
Franz, Greer shine for girls track team
Both members of the girls track team who competed in the Division I state meet ended up on the podium.
It marked the second consecutive season that senior Naja Greer scored at state, as she took third in the 200 (24.58) a year after placing sixth in the same event.
Greer, who will compete for Marshall, also competed on the 800 relay that was first and on the 400 relay that was third in the 2011 Division II state meet. A year ago, she ran on the 1,600 relay that was 13th (4:01.28).
What was difficult for Greer to accept was that her time in the final June 7 was the same as her preliminary time the day before.
"I'm disappointed," she said. "I wanted to run at least a 24.2, but I accomplished my goal, which was to get top three."
Junior Emily Franz, who was making her second state appearance but her first in an open event after running on the 1,600 relay a year ago, took fourth in the 800 (2:10.9).
She ran with the leaders throughout the entire race before falling behind eventual champion Ashley Forte of Thomas Worthington (2:09.55) as well as Centerville's Alexa Jennings (2:09.73) and Perrysburg's Courtney Clody (2:10.02).
"I wanted to go out fast and stay up there," Franz said. "I just had to let my body do what it was trained to do. Running 2:10 was my season goal and getting fourth in the state is pretty good."
The Hawks tied for 18th (11) at state behind champion Solon (47) as 77 teams scored.
Greer led a senior class that also featured sprinter Deja Martin and middle distance runner Maddie Menzie, who will compete for Toledo and Robert Morris, respectively.
The girls placed third (94) in the CCL meet behind Columbus School for Girls (145) and Watterson (138) and ahead of DeSales (90) and Ready (22). They then were fourth (49) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (129) in the 16-team district 3 meet that concluded May 24 at Hilliard Darby.
Hartley was ninth (21) in the regional May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North behind champion Pickerington Central (75) as 41 teams scored.
Martin was a state qualifier in the 100 as a junior but settled for 12th (12.83) in the event this season at regional. Also competing at regional were the 400 relay of junior Kristian Brown, sophomore Briana Sharp, Greer and Martin (13th, 51.26), the 800 relay of freshman Ky'leana Allen, Franz, Greer and Martin (11th, 1:47.43) and the 1,600 relay of Allen, Brown, Franz and Greer (sixth, 3:59.89).