The Canal Winchester High School girls track and field team continues to be plagued by injuries.
Senior Caitie Traylor, a Wittenberg University recruit and one of the Indians' top hurdlers, has a knee injury and freshman Betsy Cadwallader, who was expected to be one of the team's top hurdlers and sprinters, has a broken leg. Both are out for the season.
Junior Joscelyn Powell, who placed fourth in the 100-meters hurdles (program-record 14.33 seconds) and eighth in the 300 hurdles (program-record 43.7) in the Division I state meet last spring, has missed the past two meets with a foot injury. She could miss the rest of the season if it is determined that she has a stress fracture in her heel.
Senior Kelly Henderson and freshman Julia Blum also have missed the past two meets. Henderson, who is the Indians' top runner in the 400, has a sore back and Blum, who was expected to be one of the team's top sprinters, has a foot injury.
In addition to not having those five athletes, the Indians have not had senior Taylor Smith at full strength. Smith, an Ohio University recruit, has been limited to competing in two events per meet as she recovers from a sprained knee.
"This has been the worst year ever for injuries in my 21 years of coaching," coach John Bender said. "It's been frustrating because we've lost so many girls that we had a total of eight out for a meet a couple of weeks ago. Right now, we're just an average track team because of all the injuries we have."
With a depleted lineup, the Indians finished eighth (52 points) in the 16-team Hank Smith Invitational on April 20 at Heath behind champion Big Walnut (107).
"If Joscelyn were healthy, I think she would have won four events and scored 40 more points for us to put us into second place," Bender said. "Taylor Smith wasn't able to long jump or run in the 800 relay, either, or she could have helped us score more points.
"We're really missing our injured athletes, but the ones who were there did well for us."
Smith won the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 4 inches.
In the pole vault, Gretchen Rosch finished second (10-3) and Rachel Muller placed fourth (8-9). Finishing third were Joelle Zuberi in the 3,200 (12 minutes, 26.23 seconds) and Chloe Palmer in the 1,600 (5:42.92).
"Taylor jumped 5-4, and that's a good height in this (chilly) weather," Bender said. "Our distance people are starting to come around. Chloe ran her best high school time that she's ever run, and Joelle has continued to run well. Gretchen is continuing to have a good season as well."
The boys team finished ninth (29) in the 16-team Hank Smith Invitational behind champion Watkins Memorial (141).
Jermil Powell finished second in the high jump (6-2), Wyatt Gardner placed third in the 3,200 (10:04.65) and fifth in the 1,600 (4:43.67) and Trae Johnson finished fourth in the 110 hurdles (16.46).
The 400 relay of Elijah Miller, Luke Laguio, Edosa Omoruyi and Willy Totten finished fifth (45.89).
Both teams will take this weekend off for the school prom and will return to action May 3 when they play host to the Milt Will Relays on May 3.
Bender is hoping Blum, Henderson and Powell will be able to compete in the Indians' biggest home meet of the season.
"We're trying to get our girls healthy so that we can be closer to full strength by the end of the season," Bender said. "Joscelyn's already done an MRI on her foot and we're still waiting to find out if she has a stress fracture. If it turns out to be just a bruise, she could be back (soon). We may be getting Julia and Kelly back soon. It's just a matter of how quickly they heal and how well they feel."
Baseball team shows improvement in field
Improved play in the field has helped the baseball team overcome a slow start.
Canal Winchester struggled defensively while winning only two of its first five games, but it shored up its defense and won five of its next six games.
The Indians went 4-0 in the MSL-Buckeye Division last week, beating Teays Valley 7-5 on April 15, Hamilton Township 3-2 on April 17, Fairfield Union 13-6 on April 19 and Circleville 4-3 on April 20.
"The first five games of the year, we just weren't there defensively," coach Jay Bartos said. "It was just a mental block from being inside for so long due to the cold weather. But we've cut down on our errors after we gave some games away early and we're turning our season around."
The Indians received complete-game performances from their starting pitchers in their league games last week. Isaac Pifer picked up the wins against Teays Valley and Fairfield Union, Trevor Beerman threw a three-hitter against Hamilton Township and Max Baker went the distance against Circleville.
Against Hamilton Township, first baseman Jerod Shirley hit a solo home run and Beerman drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning with an RBI single.
"Our starting pitchers gave us a huge boost last week," Bartos said. "That really made a difference in some close league games."
Bartos said his team has steadily improved its hitting.
Among the Indians' offensive leaders through 11 games were pitcher/utility player Dalton McKee (.463 batting average, 6 doubles, 19 RBI), outfielder/shortstop Colby Rapier (.452, 6 doubles, 14 RBI, 11 runs), Beerman (.379, 6 RBI, 16 runs), Pifer (.359, 6 RBI, 6 runs) and Baker (.344, 11 runs).
"We're hitting the ball really well and we'll need to keep that up to be successful in these MSL games," Bartos said.