The Groveport Madison High School boys track and field team came narrowly close to being represented in the Division I state meet.
The 400-meter relay of senior DaMarious Napier, junior Markel Davis, senior Khalil Davis and senior Mecca Swain (42.78 seconds) and the 800 relay of Napier, junior Cedric Roberson, Khalil Davis and Swain (1:29.54) both placed fifth in the regional meet held May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each regional event qualified for the state meet, which will be held Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7, at Ohio State.
The 400 relay finished .01 of a second behind fourth-place Hilliard Darby (42.77), and Thomas Worthington (1:28.95) placed fourth in the 800 relay.
"We thought the (400 and 800 relays) were the events we had the best shot (of qualifying for state)," coach Jason Brooks said. "We knew if we could have perfect handoffs, we would have the opportunity to make state. We were right there and improved our times. Unfortunately, we barely ended up on the outside looking in, but I'm happy with their effort. I'm just disappointed for them."
Also at regional, Napier placed sixth in the high jump (6 feet, 6 inches), Swain finished seventh in the 200 (22.03), junior Chris Tabor tied for 10th in the high jump (6-2) and Roberson finished 11th in the 110 hurdles (15.48).
Groveport scored 13 points at regional to finish 17th behind champion Pickerington North (74) as 37 teams scored.
The Cruisers placed sixth (57) in the 16-team district 3 meet that concluded May 24 at Hilliard Darby behind champion Hilliard Davidson (122).
Winning district titles were Napier in the high jump (6-5) and the 800 relay (1:30.22). The 400 relay placed second (42.93), Tabor placed third in the high jump (6-3), Roberson finished third in the 110 hurdles (15.31) and Swain finished fourth in the 200 (22.2).
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional.
Also scoring at district were junior Logan Dillon in the shot put (fifth, 47-5), Swain in the 100 (sixth, 11.38), Tabor in the long jump (sixth, 20-8) and Roberson in the 300 hurdles (seventh, 41.49).
"To take sixth in the district is a huge accomplishment with just a handful of runners," Brooks said. "We have worked very hard for our success. This has been the most rewarding season so far that I have had as a head coach.
"We have had plenty of adversity to deal with and it has brought us all closer together as coaches and as athletes. The runners dealt with every situation and responded with a high sense of focus and a determination that I have never seen from a group of Groveport runners."
The Cruisers scored 69 points in the OCC-Ohio Division meet held May 15 and 17 at Thomas Worthington to finish sixth, behind Pickerington North (170.5), Lancaster (154), Gahanna (80) and Pickerington Central (79) and ahead of Newark (43), Reynoldsburg (34) and Grove City (27.5).
Winning league titles were Napier in the high jump (6-6) and Tabor in the long jump (21-4 1/4).
Groveport loses five seniors, including three regional qualifiers in Khalil Davis, Napier and Swain.
"Napier was our most consistent runner and jumper all year and we'll miss him, Swain and all of these seniors," Brooks said.
Among those expected to return are Markel Davis, Dillon, Roberson, Tabor, juniors Adam Chandler and Elgin Griffin, sophomore C.J. Towns and freshman Josh Mills, who ran the lead leg in the 800 relay at district instead of Napier.
"Roberson has had a great year and I expect him to get faster, and Tabor has a lot of ability," Brooks said. "We've got some talent coming back and now that our (school) levy passed, I'm hoping we'll have a lot more athletes on the team next year."
Girls track team ends season at regional
The girls track and field team competed in the Division I regional meet in two events and had no state qualifiers.
Senior Sharde Bumper, sophomore Jaliyah Atkinson, senior Atyauna Jones and freshman Imani Johnson combined to finish ninth in the 800 relay (1:46.81) and 12th in the 400 relay (51.09).
In the 17-team district 3 meet, the 400 relay placed second (49.94) and the 800 relay finished third (1:46.05).
"At district, our (800 relay) led until the end and had a bad handoff on our last leg and we still had a season-best (time)," coach Aaron Fenzel said. "Our (400 relay) also had their season-best time at district."
Groveport did not score at regional as Pickerington Central (75) won the title and 41 teams scored. The Cruisers finished 11th (22) at district behind champion Davidson (129).
Also scoring at district were Jones in the long jump (sixth, 15-10 1/2), Johnson in the 200 (sixth, 26.98) and Bumper in the 100 (seventh, 13.27).
"Jones and Johnson both had (personal records)," Fenzel said. "I was happy with (the team's) overall performance, but a little disappointed with their place. This is by far the most talented group of girls I have had the privilege to coach."
Groveport finished eighth (25) in the OCC-Ohio meet, behind Gahanna (202.5), Pickerington Central (141), Pickerington North (91.5), Lancaster (58.5), Grove City (56), Newark (47.5) and Reynoldsburg (38).
The Cruisers lose three seniors, including two regional qualifiers in Bumper and Jones.
"We're obviously losing a lot of talent with Jones and Bumper, but we've been able to find some younger girls to step in and have big roles this year," Fenzel said. "So I think we've got some pieces and we should be a lot deeper next year. I'm expecting us to have a lot more bodies."
Among the expected returnees are Atkinson, Johnson, juniors Chanda Brown and Daria Wansley, sophomores Leah Monroe and Airena Wilburn and freshmen Makaylla Bridges and Cleopatra Steward.