The Delaware Hayes High School boys track and field team has increased its numbers this season, but fourth-year coach Jim Bibler had guarded optimism because of the Pacers' limited experience.
The Pacers have returned just 10 letterwinners and 27 of their 38 athletes are freshmen or sophomores. In addition, they have returned only one Division I regional qualifier from last season in senior Collin Wittig.
Delaware did not have any state qualifiers last year.
"We need to become deeper everywhere," Bibler said. "We've got some quality athletes in areas, but we need to back them up to score more points."
Last season, Wittig finished 11th in the shot put (47 feet, 6 3/4 inches) at regional after placing third (50-6 1/2) in district 3. The top four finishers in each event at regional qualified for state.
Wittig, who has signed to play football at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, is expected to be supported in the throws by senior Kennan Kimbro.
Joining Wittig and Kimbro as returning letterwinners are seniors Brendan Conley (sprints/jumps), Caleb Howell (sprints/jumps), Nick Shaver (sprints) and Tyler Treese (middle distance), junior Sid Campbell (hurdles/distance) and sophomores Jacob Protheroe (hurdles), Ethan Tucky (sprints) and Austin Woods (jumps/sprints).
In the 16-team district 3 meet last season, placing fifth to miss advancing to regional by one spot were Tucky in the 100 meters (11.22 seconds), Conley in the high jump (5-8) and the 1,600 relay of Conley, 2013 graduate Skyler Helmeci, Treese and 2013 graduate Cole Millet (3:27.19).
Others expected to be key contributors include senior Bob Putman (distance), juniors Will Lyles (sprints), Austin Porter (throws) and Max Roberts (sprints) and freshman Justin Hernan (distance/middle distance).
The Pacers opened April 8 with a tri-meet, scoring 60 points to finish behind Logan (77) and ahead of host Lima Central Catholic (34).
Richards among leaders for girls track team
The girls track and field team has returned 10 letterwinners, led by seniors Emily Richards and Courtney White and junior Tiarra Avant.
Last season in the Division I, district 3 meet, Richards placed fifth in the 400 (1:01.84) and teamed with Avant and 2013 graduates Emily Mengerink and Tayler Reid to place seventh in the 1,600 relay (4:14.36) and with Avant, White and 2013 graduate Taylor McGinnis to finish eighth in the 3,200 relay (10:29.72).
Also back is sophomore Rylee Wright, who finished eighth in the long jump (15-5) at district a year ago.
Delaware had no regional qualifiers last season.
The other returning letterwinners are seniors Rachael Vonada (throws) and Lexie Woda (sprints) and juniors Natalie Martin (distance), Catelyn Millet (throws), Sammi Piroska (distance) and Alyssa Wheeler (distance).
"Emily Richards was seventh in the state indoor (meet March 8 at the University of Akron) in the 400 (58.71) and she and Courtney White were on the (3,200 relay) that set a school record last year," ninth-year coach Andy Graham said. "I think we've got some depth in sprints with Richards, White, Avant, Rylee Wright, (sophomore) Macie Wright and (freshman) Brooke Glesenkamp, among others."
Expected to be leaders for the Pacers are Richards, White and freshman Ashley Smiley in the middle distance events, Piroska, Wheeler and freshmen Kristen Puthoff and Alicia Rittenour in the distance events, Vonada and junior Macie Hewitt in the throws and Glesenkamp and Rylee Wright in the jumps.
Others expected to be key contributors include seniors Kelsey Brooks (sprints), Heaven Draper (sprints) and Blair Ramsey (jumps/sprints) and juniors Elina Coss (sprints), Brittney Hanks (throws) and Aly Wright (sprints).
"We will need to improve in distance and throws to have more success," Graham said.
The Pacers opened with a tri-meet April 8, scoring 50 points to finish behind Logan (79) and ahead of host Lima Central Catholic (39).
Baseball team wins first three games
It took awhile, but the baseball team won its first three games, sweeping Marion Pleasant 9-5 and 12-6 on April 5 and topping Worthington Kilbourne 4-1 on April 9, after its first two contests were postponed because of bad weather.
The Pacers rallied from a 5-4 deficit in their opener against Pleasant, as Cory Beam got the win after combining with Braden Schmidt to allow four hits. Jake South was 3-for-3 with three RBI, Greg Suber was 2-for-3 with two RBI, Josh Daughenbaugh scored three runs and Jake Brown had two RBI to help Ryan Montgomery win his first varsity contest as coach.
Delaware was 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Capital after losing to Kilbourne 15-4 on April 10.
"It was exciting, mainly because of the way that the guys played and the group of players I achieved this with," Montgomery said. "It was also extremely relieving to get that first win out of the way. When I talked to the team after the game, I think they were more excited to give me my first win than anything. That shows you the type of players I have. They are completely selfless and we work so hard for one another."
In the second game against Pleasant, Delaware led 4-0 after the first inning and 8-1 through four innings.
Chance Smith got the win, pitching five innings. Connor Ulmer was 3-for-5 with two RBI, Daughenbaugh was 2-for-3 with three runs, Colin Reed had three RBI and South had two.
Delaware made only one error in the doubleheader.
"We need to continue to work on the mental aspect," Montgomery said. "We ran into some situations that we had not practiced, but I was very pleased, though, for our first game, that the amount of mistakes was low.
"I think the biggest benefit was finally getting out and getting games under our belts. I also like to think that success breeds success, so if you can have some early, it can help your program grow as the year goes forward."
Against Kilbourne, Noble Moore scattered five hits over seven innings, Ulmer hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh and Schmidt and South both had two hits.