The Delaware Hayes High School girls track and field team slowly is starting to get healthy.
Coach Andy Graham hopes the Pacers will be at full strength for the postseason, if not for the OCC-Capital Division meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley.
The Division I district meet will be held May 21-23 and 25 at Hilliard Darby. The district assignments will be determined Sunday, May 5.
"We're not scoring well, but we're starting to see some good time drops and the exciting news is that we're beginning to get three of our injured girls back out there," Graham said. "In the meantime, we are starting to see several underclassmen make a bunch of progress, and that bodes well for the future."
Senior Emily Mengerink (middle distance), who had knee injuries in both her sophomore and junior seasons, is back competing after being sidelined with a broken arm. Senior Tayler Reid (high jump/middle distance) is preparing to return from a leg injury and junior Emily Richards (middle distance) is working her way back from a knee injury.
"Mengerink is getting healthier and her 800-meter times are dropping," Graham said. "She's struggling to post good (open) 800 times right now because she's running on the (3,200 relay), but the further along we get, the more stamina will come back.
"Reid is only running in one event right now, but we're going to try to push that up, too. Richards will compete in her first meet (April 30) and we'll see how she feels after that and what we can expect. It'd be nice to have her ready for the (1,600 relay) because she's our top 400 runner."
Graham said he has been impressed with the progress made by sophomores Tiara Avant, Sammi Piroska and Alyssa Wheeler and freshman Rylee Wright.
"Avant is the fastest girl on the team and looks good in the 100, 200 and on the (1,600 relay)," Graham said. "Piroska and Wheeler are really dropping their times in the 1,600 and both could go sub-six minutes this week. Wright is doing very well in sprints."
The Pacers finished seventh (19) in the eight-team Wildcat Invitational on April 26 at Westerville South, behind champion Pickerington Central (132).
Mengerink placed third in the 800 (2:30.38), senior Taylor McGinnis finished seventh in the 800 (2:34.47), Piroska was seventh in the 1,600 (6:05.24) and eighth in the 3,200 (13:48.8) and Wheeler finished ninth in the 1,600 (6:12.47).
The 1,600 relay of Reid, Mengerink, junior Courtney White and Avant placed sixth (4:22.36).
The boys team finished sixth (31.5) in the Wildcat Invitational behind champion Pickerington North (128).
Junior Collin Wittig was runner-up in the shot put (48 feet, 1 1/4 inches) and placed eighth in the discus (119-10).
"That cost me an ice cream because he was at 46 feet and I told him if he hit 48 feet, I'd treat him to ice cream," Graham said. "He went out there the next meet at Westerville South and threw over 48 in all four of his attempts, I think.
"He's just getting better and better and I think he'll get past 50 feet this year. He'll get bigger and stronger and be even better next year. He has a lot of potential."
Also in the Wildcat Invitational, freshman Ethan Tucky placed third in the 100 (11.43), senior Cole Millet placed third in the 400 (51.34), junior Brendan Conley and freshman Austin Woods tied for fifth in the high jump (5-8) and the 1,600 relay of Conley, senior Skyler Helmeci, junior Tyler Treese and Millet placed second (3:29.54).
"I know the (1,600 relay) wants to set the school record and it's 3:22, so they've got a way to go yet," Graham said. "Two of them are running sub-50s and all four of them will have to do that to break that record."
Baseball team hopes to build on comeback win
Baseball coach Nick Melton is hoping a come-from-behind 8-6 win over Mount Vernon on April 29 will be the impetus his team needs to finish the season strong.
"It's been a difficult year in terms of wins and losses and we've been on the cusp for a few weeks now," he said. "We played a lot of close games but just couldn't break through that wall. We had been one hit, one pitch or one defensive play away from breaking through but couldn't do it. Now we need to carry this over and have a positive finish to the season."
The Pacers trailed host Mount Vernon 6-3 with one out and the bases empty in the top of the seventh inning before scoring five runs.
"We had a lot of big hits in the inning," Melton said. "Michael Sweeney started it with a double, the fourth game in a row in which he had a seventh-inning double. A (junior varsity) call-up, Connor Hollingsworth, had a two-run single, Connor Ulmer had an RBI single and Alex Rafeld also had two RBI. I'm pretty positive it was the first time Delaware has beaten Mount Vernon since my senior year at Mount Vernon in 2002."
Unfortunately for the Pacers, junior Collin Reed suffered a broken foot making a diving catch in the bottom of the seventh.
"(Reed is) our third baseman and No. 3 pitcher who has been solid in relief and was going to get a few more starts, especially since we lost (sophomore shortstop and pitcher) Noble Moore with a broken thumb (April 26 during a 7-5 loss to Mount Vernon)," Melton said. "Moore was our No. 2 pitcher, so we're without two of our top three pitchers and the left side of our infield."
Ulmer, who plays center field and bats leadoff, was hitting .383 through 16 games. Junior pitcher and first baseman Greg Suber was hitting .390 with a team-high nine RBI and Moore was batting .300.
On the mound through 16 games, Suber was 2-3 with a 3.28 ERA, Moore was 1-4 with a 4.31 ERA and Reed was 0-1 with a 5.07 ERA.
"We don't have overpowering pitching, but the guys are doing so much better lately of hitting their spots and throwing to contact," Melton said. "They're mixing their pitches better and they've all shown great improvement."
Melton also is pleased with the progress of the program.
"Our numbers aren't close to where they should be compared to other Division I schools, but we do have a freshman team this season and I think that's extremely important," he said. "The freshmen last year basically lost a year because they were sitting on the j.v. team and not getting much experience. Having a freshman team will keep those kids in the program, and that's very important."
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, May 5. The tournament begins May 13.
Softball team still in hunt for OCC title
The softball team's bid for its third consecutive OCC-Capital championship could come down to its final league contest.
Delaware lost to Olentangy Orange 4-3 on May 1 and, entering play May 3, was tied for second in the OCC-Capital with Orange at 8-2, one game behind Olentangy (9-1). The Pacers travel to Franklin Heights on Monday, May 6, before concluding league play Wednesday, May 8, at home against Olentangy.
Delaware defeated Franklin Heights 13-0 in five innings April 18 but lost to Olentangy 3-1 on April 22.
The Pacers shared the OCC-Capital title with Orange last season after winning it outright in 2011.
Delaware defeated Watkins Memorial 16-0 in five innings April 30 in a league game, as freshman pitcher Madi Huck pitched a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts and junior catcher Kaitlyn Woerner hit a three-run home run.
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, May 5. The tournament starts May 14.