The Canal Winchester High School girls track and field team was weakened by a slew of injuries to key athletes this season.
Two of the Indians' top hurdlers, senior Caitie Traylor (knee) and freshman Betsy Cadwallader (broken leg), their top runner in the 400 meters, senior Kelly Henderson (back), and one of their top performers in the shot put, sophomore Abby Brinker (leg), sustained season-ending injuries.
In addition, two of their top athletes, junior Jocselyn Powell and freshman Julia Blum, missed multiple meets with foot injuries, and Powell was able to compete in only one of her four events in the postseason because of a sore left ankle.
Despite all of its injuries, Canal Winchester won its fourth consecutive league title and made a good showing in the postseason.
"I wish we could do the season all over again because we had all of those injuries and having all of those girls healthy definitely would have made us a better team," coach John Bender said. "This wasn't the best season we've ever had and I think it could have been if we had everyone healthy, but this was still a very good season with plenty of big highlights."
In the Division I state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, Powell placed second in 100 hurdles in 14.52 seconds behind Chesterland West Geauga's Chantel Richardson (14.34) after running a program-record 14.21 in her preliminary heat.
Also competing at state were senior Taylor Smith in the high jump and junior Gretchen Rosch in the pole vault. Smith tied for seventh (5 feet, 4 inches) and Rosch finished 11th (11-0). Rosch's performance tied the program record.
The Indians scored 9.5 points at state to tie Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit for 30th behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
In the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, Smith won the high jump (program-record 5-8), Powell won the 100 hurdles (14.43) and Rosch finished fourth in the pole vault (11-0), as the top four finishers in each event advanced to state.
Also competing at regional were Smith in the long jump (seventh, 16-4 1/2), freshman Megan Tamasovich in the high jump (11th, 5-0), freshman Chloe Palmer in the 1,600 (10th, 5:39.75), freshman Joelle Zuberi in the 3,200 (11th, 11:52.4) and senior Rebecaa Lusignolo in the discus (16th, 74-2).
Canal Winchester scored 27.5 points at regional to finish 10th behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
The Indians finished fourth (68) in the 16-team district 2 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby behind Gahanna (141.5), Big Walnut (88.5) and Thomas Worthington (70.5).
Smith (high jump, 5-4) and Rosch (pole vault, 11-0) won district titles and Powell (100 hurdles, 14.97) and Tamasovich (high jump, 5-1) both placed second. Finishing fourth were Palmer in the 1,600 (5:24.89), Smith in the long jump (16-6 1/2), Zuberi in the 3,200 (11:39.48) and Lusignolo in the discus (101-7).
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional.
"We had great district and regional meets as a team," Bender said. "Taylor's timing was a little bit off at the state meet, but she had a terrific season and when she broke our school record to win the regional meet, that was a big highlight.
"Jocselyn easily won our regional and she may have won state if she had been healthy all year. And Gretchen tied her own school record again at the state meet, which was a great way to end her season."
The Indians dominated the competition in their final MSL-Buckeye Division meet, as they scored 159.5 points May 14 and 17 to finish well ahead of runner-up Teays Valley (114) as well as Bloom-Carroll (96), Fairfield Union (95), Circleville (72), Hamilton Township (55), Logan Elm (40.5) and Amanda-Clearcreek (27).
Powell won league titles in the 100 hurdles (12.69), 300 hurdles (46.27), 100 (14.81) and 200 (25.82) despite sharp pain in her left ankle.
Also winning league titles were Smith in the high jump (5-4) and long jump (16-3 1/4), the 400 relay of Smith, Rosch, Blum and junior Ashley Mavis (52.1), the 800 relay of Smith, Blum, Mavis and sophomore Arena Paige (1:49.34) and Rosch in the pole vault (11-0).
Canal Winchester will compete in the OCC-Cardinal Division next year.
"Winning the MSL definitely was one of our goals and that was the meet where our girls were most healthy," Bender said. "It was probably the highlight of our season because we had Jocselyn healthy for four events for the final time.
"We're losing a good senior class, including Taylor Smith, who is one of the top track athletes in the state. We know that our seniors will do well next year, so how good we'll be will come down to how our freshmen do as sophomores next year, because we have a lot of talent in that class, too."
Young boys team showed potential
The boys team experienced a rebuilding season.
However, the Indians were competitive, as they finished second (113) in the MSL-Buckeye meet, behind Hamilton Township (165) and ahead of Teays Valley (111), Circleville (80), Bloom-Carroll (64), Fairfield Union (60), Amanda-Clearcreek (37) and Logan Elm (22).
Winning league titles were freshman Wyatt Gardner in the 3,200 (10:04.99) and senior Luke Laguio in the 200 (22.75).
"Our biggest highlight was getting second in our league meet, which was a big accomplishment for how young our team was," coach Kurtis Robinson said.
Canal Winchester didn't score in the Division I state meet, as its lone qualifier, junior Jermil Powell, tied for ninth in the high jump (6-4).
The Indians finished 29th (5) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored, with Powell placing fourth in the high jump (season-best 6-6).
Also at regional, sophomore Trae Johnson finished 13th in the 110 hurdles (15.85).
The Indians finished fifth (34.5) in the 15-team district 2 meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (140), with Powell placing second in the high jump (6-3) and Johnson placing second in the 110 hurdles (15.23).
"Our guys competed about as well as they possibly could at the district level," Robinson said. "Our athletes did everything that was asked of them and they all did what they were capable of doing.
"If we get everyone back and we stay healthy, I think we're going to have a competitive team next year as our young athletes continue to grow."