The 2014 season was a breakout one for the Bexley High School girls lacrosse team.
The Lions posted the best record in the 13-year history of the program, finishing 15-4 overall. They also captured their first Central Independent League title, tying for first with Columbus Academy and DeSales at 6-1.
Bexley advanced to a Division II South/Central Region final May 22, but lost 13-12 in double overtime to eventual state champion Worthington Kilbourne. It was the Lions' deepest postseason run since finishing as state runners-up in the club division in 2009. They reached the regional final by defeating DeSales 11-9 on May 20, Cincinnati Wyoming 11-6 on May 15 and Chillicothe 14-0 on May 12.
Senior midfielders Sarah Dawley and Samantha Bolon became the first two Bexley players to receive all-state recognition.
"The team absolutely exceeded my expectations," coach Gillian Thomson said. "I am incredibly proud of what the team put together from one end to the other -- from goalie, defense, midfield, attack."
Dawley, a Duquesne signee, scored a school-record 71 goals, including seven against Kilbourne. She also led the team with 67 draw controls and was named first-team all-state, all-region and all-league.
Bolon, who will play at Lynchburg College, had 64 goals and a team-leading 16 assists. She was named second-team all-state and first-team all-region and all-league.
Junior goalkeeper Mimi Nahem made 139 saves and was honorable mention all-region and first-team all-league. Only two of Bexley's opponents scored in double digits -- on April 24 in a 10-9 overtime loss to Olentangy and the regional-final loss to Kilbourne.
Senior Emma Crane and juniors Paige Ingwersen and Megan Myers were named second-team all-league as defenders, and junior midfielder Katie Bringman was honorable mention all-league.
"We are going to miss the seniors tremendously on and off the field. They are an amazing group," Thomson said. "I think there is a mentality and there's a feeling that this is where we want to be (reaching a regional final). ... I think now that they have a taste of that they are going to work hard and come back strong."
Before sharing this season's title in the CIL, which was established in 2010, the Lions finished sixth their first two years in the league and second the next two. Rounding out this year's standings were Columbus School for Girls and Hartley at 3-4, followed by Granville (2-5), Watterson (2-5) and Wellington (0-7).
Track teams enjoy solid season
The performances by the boys and girls track and field teams this spring pleased their respective coaches.
Highlights for the boys included winning the Red Raider Relays on April 5 at London, placing second in the MSL-Ohio Division meet that concluded May 16 at Whitehall and finishing third in the Division II, district 1 meet that concluded May 24 at Heath. They also were represented at state by senior Ian Kellogg, who qualified in the 1,600 meters for the second consecutive year.
The girls won the Bexley Relays on April 11, placed first in the Pat McMillin Invitational on April 19 at Whitehall, took second in the league meet and finished fourth at district. Senior Lissy Schmidt became the first member of the girls team to reach state since 2011, as she qualified in the 300 hurdles.
"Every season isn't going to end with championships, but I would still give this season an A," boys coach Shane Roberts said. "We competed injured, tired and sore. We ran, jumped and threw in the rain, snow and heat. When the races came to an end, our last races and last throws were our best."
In the regional meet that concluded May 31 at Lexington, the boys finished 19th (14 points) behind champion Pemberville Eastwood (61) as 46 teams scored. Kellogg, a Michigan State signee, was runner-up in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 26.3 seconds) to advance to state June 6 and 7 at Ohio State, where he was ninth in a personal-best 4:23.77 as the Lions failed to score.
Kellogg came up short of qualifying for state in two other events. He was 12th in the 800 (2:03.66) at regional and ran the anchor leg on the fifth-place 3,200 relay (8:07.93) that also included freshman Peter Hayden, junior James De La Cruz and senior Nathaniel Agnoli.
"Ian is a leader and someone you get to coach once in a career," Roberts said. "I am honored to have had these years with him."
In the MSL-Ohio meet, the boys scored 132 points to finish behind Columbus Academy (149.5) and ahead of Grandview (127), Whitehall (74), Worthington Christian (57), West Jefferson (56), London (34.5) and Madison Plains (18). At district, they were third (71) behind champion Liberty Union (106) as 15 teams scored.
The boys team loses nine seniors, but expects to return regional qualifiers in Hayden, De La Cruz, junior Andre Stewart, sophomore Youssef Abouhashish and sophomore Corbin Thompson.
At regional, Stewart finished 11th in the 300 hurdles (41.86) and 15th in the 110 hurdles (17.06), Abouhashish was ninth in the discus (139 feet, 7 inches) and the 400 relay of Thompson, senior Rasheed Morgan, Stewart and senior Chad Meyer was seventh (season-best 43.84).
"When the season got to the league, district, regional and state level, we raised our competition level," Roberts said. "I am proud of that."
The girls tied for 22nd (11) at regional behind champion Orrville (63) as 42 teams scored. Schmidt ran a personal-best 45.63 to finish third in the 300 hurdles and then placed eighth (46.29) at state to give the Lions a tie for 68th (1) behind champion Dayton Meadowdale (40) as 73 teams scored.
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 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).
"Overall, I am very happy with the team's performance this season," said girls coach Jamie Hayes, whose squad loses seven seniors. "We set some high goals at the beginning of the season. We wanted to compete for the MSL title and be competing in June.
"With being runner-up at the league meet and Lissy making it to the state (meet), we accomplished those goals."
In the league meet, Bexley scored 113 points to finish behind Grandview (162.5) and ahead of Academy (96), Whitehall (81), London (71), Worthington Christian (62), Madison Plains (28) and West Jefferson (26.5).
At district, the girls were fourth (59) behind champion Heath (70) as 21 teams scored.
"We had one more goal this year and that was that track was an enjoyable and healthy experience. Unfortunately, we had some injuries that cut the season short," Hayes said. "This especially hurt on the distance side losing senior captain Regan Detwiler and freshmen Veronica Mendivil and Julia Cohn.
"I was impressed with not only how the girls contributed to the team on the sidelines, but also how much the rest of the girls put the team first and tried to fill in for those who couldn't run. I knew that no matter the event, whoever was running, jumping or throwing would give their best effort."