Canal Winchester High School boys track and field coach Kurtis Robinson spent the first half of the season experimenting with his lineup in an effort to determine which events best suit each of his athletes.
He finally will reveal what he believes to be his strongest lineup when the Indians play host to the Milt Will Relays on Friday, May 3.
Also competing in the eight-team meet are Bexley, Bloom-Carroll, Fairfield Union, London, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Worthington Christian.
"We're still trying to find diamonds in the rough, but this is the first meet where we're going to load up and try to put together our best lineup for the first time," Robinson said. "Pickerington North and Pickerington Central have high-caliber teams so we're probably not going to win, but we're going to put some of our best athletes in four events for the first time to try to score as many points as we possibly can."
Robinson said the Milt Will Relays will test his team's depth given that each event will be a relay.
In addition to the traditional 400-, 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, the Milt Will Relays also will feature 6,400, sprint medley, middle medley, distance medley, shuttle hurdle, long jump, high jump and pole vault relays.
Last year, the Indians finished second (111 points) in the meet behind Pickerington Central (113).
"You need to have a lot of guys contribute to do well in a relay meet like this one," Robinson said. "Each of the eight teams are really competitive in different areas, but I think we'll be pretty competitive in just about every event."
Canal Winchester beat visiting Northland 90.5-49.5 in a dual meet April 23.
Trae Johnson led the way for the Indians, winning the 110 hurdles (16.3 seconds), 100 (11.6), 300 hurdles (42.4) and 200 (23.6).
Willy Totten won the discus (125 feet) and teamed with Luke Laguio, Edosa Omoruyi and Elijah Miller to win the 400 relay (45.9), and Caleb Ward won the long jump (18-3/4) and teamed with Laguio, Bailey Held and JaVaughn Morris to win the 800 relay (1:36.4).
Also finishing first were Miller in the pole vault (8-6), Jason Appel in the 800 (2:16.4), Wyatt Gardner in the 3,200 (10:06.7), Bryce Carroll in the 1,600 (5:03.1) and Zach Huffer in the shot put (44-4 1/2).
"We had Trae run four events just to see if he could do it and he ended up winning all four of them against a Northland team that has a lot of good sprinters," Robinson said. "We competed very well against Northland and I hope we can have another day like that on Friday."
Girls team looking to defend Milt Will title
The girls track and field team is looking to defend its title in the Milt Will Relays, but injuries could prevent it from accomplishing that feat.
The Indians scored 122 points in the meet last year, ahead of runner-up Pickerington Central (102).
Two of Canal Winchester's top hurdlers, Caitie Traylor (knee) and Betsy Cadwallader (broken leg), are out for the season and its top 400 runner, Kelly Henderson, is expected to miss the meet because of a sore back.
"We're going to try to win the Milt Will Relays, but our injuries have been devastating and, when you're missing key people for a meet like this where depth is so important, it really hurts," coach John Bender said. "Pickerington North and Pickerington Central are two of the top teams in the area, so the odds are stacked against us this year."
Last week, the Indians received some good news on the injury front when an MRI revealed that Joscelyn Powell does not have a stress fracture in her sore heel.
Powell, who placed fourth in the 100 hurdles (program-record 14.33) and eighth in the 300 hurdles (program-record 43.7) in the Division I state meet last spring, has missed multiple meets this season but is expected to compete in three events in the Milt Will Relays, Bender said.
Two other key athletes who have been slowed by injury, Julia Bloom (sprints) and Taylor Smith (jumps/sprints), are expected to compete in the Milt Will Relays. Bloom has been sidelined with a foot injury and Smith, an Ohio University recruit, competed in the high jump for the first time this season in a 75-62 loss to Northland in a dual meet April 23 after recovering from a sprained knee.
Smith won the high jump in the meet against Northland by clearing 5-4. She also won the long jump (15-9).
"It will take Joscelyn awhile to get back into shape and we'll need to set limits on what she does this weekend, but we're very thankful that she doesn't have a stress fracture," Bender said. "Julia is gradually getting over her foot injury and Taylor was able to jump outdoors for the first time this season, so it appears that we're starting to get a bit more healthy."
Other winners against Northland were Elizabeth Kifer in the 3,200 (12:53.6), Chloe Palmer in the 800 (2:32.4), Megan Tamasovich in the 1,600 (5:48.2), Gretchen Rosch in the pole vault (10-6) and Rebecca Lusignolo in the shot put (29-10 1/2).
"Our distance runners are improving and coming along really well," Bender said. "And Gretchen tied her own pole vault record, which was a big deal, too."
League play nearing end for softball team
The softball team went 2-1 in MSL-Buckeye Division games last week, losing to Bloom-Carroll 4-0 on April 22 and defeating Fairfield Union 8-3 on April 23 and Amanda-Clearcreek 17-0 in five innings on April 25.
Canal Winchester will wrap up league play with games Friday, May 3, at Hamilton Township and Monday, May 6, at home against Fairfield Union.
The Indians beat Hamilton Township 11-1 in five innings on April 18 and defeated Fairfield Union 8-3 on April 23.