The Canal Winchester High School girls track and field team has to find a way to replace three high-scoring 2010 graduates in Emily Pifer, Jasmine Sullivan and Whitney McDonald.

The Canal Winchester High School girls track and field team has to find a way to replace three high-scoring 2010 graduates in Emily Pifer, Jasmine Sullivan and Whitney McDonald.

Pifer capped her stellar career as a prep distance runner by placing fourth in the 3,200 meters (10 minutes, 54.3 seconds) in the Division I state meet last year, marking the highest state finish at the Division I level in program history.

Sullivan was a four-time MSL-Buckeye Division champion in both the 100 and 200, and McDonald holds the program record in the 800.

Nevertheless, 19th-year coach John Bender is optimistic that the Indians can match the success they had last season, when they won the MSL-Buckeye meet to capture their fifth league title in six years and finished third in their district.

The Indians opened their season March 26 by scoring 72 points to place second in the seven-team Hammond Relays behind host Pickerington Central (86).

"We had a really good team last year and we lost some outstanding girls, including the greatest distance runner in school history (Pifer), the second-best sprinter in Canal Winchester history (Sullivan) next to Heather Russell and our record holder in the 800," Bender said. "But our goals of winning our league and finishing high in our district haven't changed, because we've got a lot of talented younger girls who are stepping up to try to fill their positions."

Freshman Joscelyn Powell has emerged as one of the Indians' leading sprinters, along with senior Meaghann Bush.

Powell also is one of Canal Winchester's top hurdlers, along with sophomore Catie Traylor and freshman Ashley Mavis.

Juniors Kayla Scott and Ali Stauffer have returned to lead the distance and middle distance corps, while junior Leah Shyrock is the Indians' top long jumper.

Senior Kelsey Brobst and junior Halle Davis are Canal Winchester's leading shot put and discus throwers, and sophomore Taylor Smith was a state qualifier in the high jump last year.

"We've got three really good athletes who could score a lot of points for us in Powell, Smith and Scott," Bender said. "Joscelyn Powell was really good in middle school, and she's a hard worker who is very dedicated to her team. We have 52 girls on the team, which is probably as high a number as we've ever had."

The Indians scored 139.5 points to win the MSL-Buckeye meet last year, ahead of Logan Elm (129.5), Amanda-Clearcreek (99), Circleville (87), Teays Valley (72.5), Fairfield Union (58.5), Hamilton Township (44) and Bloom-Carroll (33).

Canal Winchester placed third (78) in the district 1 meet behind Gahanna (132) and Dublin Coffman (97.5) and finished 12th (18) at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (95) before tying for 41st (5) at state behind champion Reynoldsburg (56).

"Teays Valley has really improved over the past several years and they may be our best competition in the MSL this year," Bender said. "Amanda, Circleville and Logan Elm are good, too."

The boys team opened its season on March 26 by placing sixth (32) in the seven-team Hammond Relays behind champion Lancaster (92).

The Indians are led by a strong group of hurdlers, including juniors Sam Decker, Tyler Jenkins and Antonio Whitfield.

Canal Winchester's sprint corps is led by seniors Orlando Basanta, Corey Bell and Donald Tucker and junior Alex Pickens.

The Indians have a deep distance and middle distance unit that is led by seniors Micah Cobb and Sean Neary, and juniors Jordan Dalton, Jimmy Fraley, Jarrod Genther and Dan Willard.

Junior Bryn Campbell and Pickens are the Indians' top throwers in the discus and shot put, Bell and Jenkins are the team's top pole vaulters and Tucker is one of the Indians' top high jumpers.

"Our strongest areas are the pole vault and hurdles," coach Bruce Olson said. "We lost only one senior who finished last season healthy, so we've got a lot of people back and a few new guys who will be a part of the mix."

The Indians finished second (115) in the MSL-Buckeye meet behind Teays Valley (122.5) last season, snapping a streak of five consecutive league titles. Circleville (102) was third, followed by Hamilton Township (81), Fairfield Union (75), Amanda-Clearcreek (65.5), Bloom-Carroll (52) and Logan Elm (44).

Canal Winchester scored 33 points to tie Walnut Ridge for 10th in the Division I district 3 meet behind champion Brookhaven (89) but didn't score at regional.

"I'm probably more optimistic than I usually am, because we have the kids who scored all but one of our points in the league meet back," Olson said. "We need to set our goals higher for the postseason meets, though. Instead of finishing in the middle of the pack like we've been doing since we moved to Division I, we need to try to be in the top three or four of our district."