With a returning state champion and a strong freshman class a year ago, the Eastmoor Academy girls track and field team won four events and earned a runner-up finish in the Division II state meet.
The Warriors might be even better this season.
Returning to lead the way is senior Aaliyah Barnes, an Ohio State signee who won the 100 meters and 200 at state as a sophomore and captured titles in the 100 and 400 while also running on the first-place 800 relay at state last year.
Senior Sariah Rhodes and sophomores Cheyanne Carter and Gianni Ross also are back from the team that scored 46 points to place behind champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (55) at state. It was Eastmoor's best state finish since it won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
"We're not quite where we want to be, but we're trying to work on it," said coach Rich Bolden, who is in his sixth season. "We're probably a couple steps better than we were last year. Some of our girls from last year are back and have gotten older. Aaliyah had a finger injury from basketball but she's back running well."
Barnes won the 100 in 12.06 seconds and the 400 in 55.4 and joined Carter, Rhodes and Ross on the 800 relay that ran a state-meet record 1:39.37.
Carter also won the 200 (25.19) and was third in the 100 (12.3).
Barnes, according to Bolden, hasn't decided what combination of the 100, 200 and 400 she will run during the postseason in addition to the 800 relay.
Other top athletes include sophomores Anee Braswell and Ayanna Marlowe, both of whom compete in the shot put and discus.
The City League meet will be held May 13 and 15 at Whetstone.
Last season, Centennial scored 106 points to win its first league title ahead of Northland (99), Eastmoor (95.5), Brookhaven (67.5), Marion-Franklin (49), Whetstone (46), Walnut Ridge (30), Independence (29), Columbus West (24), Africentric (21), Beechcroft (20), Linden-McKinley (15) and Mifflin (11).
76ers, Warriors among best in boys track
The Eastmoor boys track team easily won the City title last season, but Independence hopes its sprinting depth can make a difference in this year's league meet.
Seniors Vincent Rambo and Dominic Ward are back to lead the 76ers.
"We were really good a year ago," fourth-year coach Maurice Douglas said. "The difference this year is that it seems like we've got a lot more depth."
In the Division II state meet last year, Ward placed fourth in the 100 (11.24) and fifth in the 200 (22.13), and Rambo was fifth in the 100 (11.26). The duo also ran on the 400 relay that was fourth (43.26).
Eastmoor scored 20 points to place sixth and Independence had 17.5 to take eighth.
Senior Shyhiem Pace, who was 12th at state in the 110 hurdles (15.26), also is a key returnee for Independence. Others looking to contribute are seniors Russell Drake (800) and Christian Walker (shot put, discus) and juniors Dexter Coleman (800), Wesley Riley (400) and Eriq Shaw (400, hurdles).
Eastmoor won 10 events and scored 153 points to win last year's City meet ahead of Brookhaven (88), Independence (75), Northland (65.33), Walnut Ridge (59), Centennial (40), Whetstone (34.33), West (28), Beechcroft (19.33), Mifflin (16), Marion-Franklin (15), Linden (13), Columbus East (12), Columbus South (2) and Briggs (1).
Seniors Malik Briggs (middle distance), Chris Grace (shot put, discus) and Donzel Watkins (shot put, discus), juniors Cameron Jackson (hurdles, sprints) and Todd Roddy (middle distance) and sophomores Elijah Barber (high jump), George Daniels (sprints) and Jalon Lewis (middle distance) are Eastmoor's top competitors.
"We've got good depth and are really pretty much relying on the coaching staff to spread it around," said Jason Lewis, who is in his 10th season as coach. "I think all four of our relays have a good shot of qualifying to state."
Briggs softball team seeking breakthrough
The Briggs softball team has earned six consecutive City runner-up finishes since winning the league championship in 2006, and it also was runner-up in 2004.
First-year coach Herb Sharfenaker has tried to add to the reputation of the program being one of the best in the City by improving its field.
"We've redone the whole park," said Sharfenaker, a former baseball coach at Eastmoor and Ready who also coaches girls volleyball at Briggs. "We've moved the sod in and made it a smaller infield. We've painted the dugout and made it a nice place to come to. It's all for the good of the kids."
The Bruins were 7-5 overall and 5-0 in the City League-South Division before playing West on April 22.
Senior Jordyn Estep, who has received a scholarship offer from Ohio Dominican, is back at pitcher. Other key players are seniors Celia Smith (OF) and Jasmin Scott (designated player), juniors Rebecca Morro (C), Sam Rainey (OF), Chasity Sammons (1B) and Sarah Sharfenaker (OF) and sophomores Randi Chalfant (SS), Julie Russell (2B) and Loni Sammons (3B).
West tennis team returns three players
The West boys tennis team earned its second City title in three seasons a year ago when it edged Whetstone 3-2 in the league finale.
Three players are back from that team, although the Cowboys lost their top two singles players, Santiago Farias and Alex Phin, to graduation.
Senior Marcos Gasca has moved from third singles to first singles. Seniors Randy Pheng (second singles) and Lennon May (third singles) also saw time last season.
Senior Trey Kendall and sophomores Marcell West, Marquice West and Juan Vera are other key players.
The Cowboys were 3-0 in the City before playing Beechcroft on April 22.
"We've got a long way to go, but they're practicing hard and working hard," said Bruce Duffner, who is in his eighth season as coach. "I like what we're doing."
Briggs baseball team out to keep run going
The Briggs baseball team has been to five consecutive City title games, but the last time it won a league final was in 2008.
This year's team has a similar attitude compared with the Bruins' last league championship team, according to coach Brock Mullins.
"I think we're one of the strongest teams I've coached as a whole," said Mullins, who had a career record of 118-84 in nine seasons as coach before Briggs played West on April 22. "We have a lot of guys who are growing and willing to learn. That 2008 team was by far the best team I've ever coached in how they loved the game, and this year's team loves the game like that one did."
Briggs was 6-6 overall and 4-0 in the City-South before playing West. Junior Tavin Howard (2B) had four home runs before April 22.
Other key players include senior Jesse Wright (DH), juniors Gage Finley (SS) and Tyrell Harris (P/CF) and freshman Jaxon Radde (P).
"Our non-league schedule has been pretty tough," Mullins said. "We lost to Canal Winchester 10-9 in the bottom of the seventh (April 1). We haven't gotten run-ruled yet (before April 22) so that's a plus."