The sprinters for the Dublin Coffman High School girls track and field team typically have been overshadowed by the success of the distance and middle-distance runners.
But as the distance and middle-distance corps put together a disappointing showing at the Division I district 1 meet which concluded last Saturday at Coffman, the sprinters stole the show.
The 400-meter relay of Crai Hodges, Marian Gbenro, Megan Barker and Kinsey Hogue placed third (50.7 seconds) as the top four in every event advanced to the regional, which began last Wednesday and will conclude Friday at Hilliard Davidson. The top four there will qualify to the state meet June 6-7 at Ohio State.
"This is the first time we've made it to regional in the four years that I've been here, so this is a big accomplishment for us," said Gbenro, whose team finished seventh (34.5) in the 15-team district behind champion Pickerington Central (128.5). "Our school isn't known for its sprinters, so it feels great to do this. We knew we were going to have to run better than we've run before, and we were able to drop almost a second off our personal record for the year, which is amazing. Now that we've made regional, our goal is to make it to the regional final."
The 3,200 relay of Stefanie Larsson, Sarah Pusey, Carrie Terlecky and Chelsea France was fourth (9:57.71) and qualified to regional for the 12th consecutive year.
"We didn't run a great time, but it feels good to make it back to regional," France said. "This is good experience for our younger girls who are getting their first chance to run there."
Mary Pfeifer was third in the 3,200 (11:49.89).
But it was a disappointing meet for France, a senior who will continue her career at Virginia. Weakened by a stomach virus, France was fifth in the 1,600 (5:19.97) behind fourth-place Kelsey McAlpine (5:18.6) of Thomas. France also competed in the 3,200, but wasn't able to finish.
France finished third in the 1,600 at district and sixth at regional a year ago as Coffman tied Olentangy Liberty for 13th (21) behind champion Gahanna (65.5).
"I was completely angry because this happened to me at the wrong time," France said. "I threw up before and after running the 1,600, and I was eight seconds slower than my typical time. I tried to run the 3,200, but I had to walk off the track and throw up again. It wasn't pretty.
"I'm pretty disappointed, but I've got to keep this in perspective because I've still got four years of college track to look forward to. I just wish I could've ended my high school career at the state meet."
•The boys team finished seventh (34) behind Gahanna (142.5) in the Division I district 1 meet.
Nate Lonsway led the Shamrocks by placing third in the 800 (1:58.44), with teammate Ryan Daulton in fourth (1:58.55). Lonsway also finished fourth in the 1,600 (4:24.12), and anchored the 3,200 relay of Conner Smith, Daulton and Spencer Shadel to a fourth-place finish (8:11.18).
"Nate Lonsway didn't have a sophomore year that you would think would lead to this kind of junior year, so it seems like he's come out of nowhere," coach Tyler Gantz said.
"He really came through for his team with a great double-qualifying effort. Ryan Daulton's been battling shin injuries all season, so he was relieved to make it through."
The 1,600 relay of Smith, Daulton, Carl Ruf and Shaun Borland was third (3:26.2).
"Our 1,600 qualified with a season-best time, which is great," said Gantz, whose team finished in a four-way tie for 11th (20) behind champion Gahanna (59.5) at the 36-team regional a year ago. "We're happy to move two relays and more than a handful of runners to regional. We competed in a tough district, so we're looking to be competitive at regional with the times we ran."
At a glance
Below are the regional qualifiers for the Coffman boys and girls track and field teams with district event, place and time/distance/height:
BOYS -- 1,600 relay: Conner Smith, Ryan Daulton, Carl Ruf, Shaun Borland (third, 3:26.2); 3,200 relay: Smith, Daulton, Spencer Shadel, Nate Lonsway (fourth, 8:11.18); Lonsway: 800 (third, 1:58.44), 1,600 (fourth, 4:24.12); Daulton: 800 (fourth, 1:58.55)
GIRLS -- 400 relay: Crai Hodges, Marian Gbenro, Megan Barker, Kinsey Hogue (third, 50.7); Mary Pfeifer: 3,200 (third, 11:49.89); 3,200 relay: Stefanie Larsson, Sarah Pusey, Carrie Terlecky, Chelsea France (fourth, 9:57.71)