Despite losing 26 seniors to graduation, the Dublin Jerome High School boys track and field team returns a solid core.

Despite losing 26 seniors to graduation, the Dublin Jerome High School boys track and field team returns a solid core.

The girls team also returns a solid nucleus under second-year coach Randi Stephens.

Jerome, which opened the season last Saturday in the Hammond Relays at Pickerington Central, will return to action today at home against Grandview Heights.

•The boys team opened the season by finishing seventh (7 points) behind first-place Lancaster (94) at the Hammond Relays.

Senior distance specialist Nick Schneider, senior hurdler Brian Hansen and junior sprinter Chris Osbun should lead the Celtics this season.

Schneider is a two-time Division I regional qualifier in the 3,200 meters and is looking for his first state-meet berth.

Last season, Schneider finished sixth at regional in the 3,200 (9:46.53) and he holds the program record (9:45.82). Schneider also will compete in the 800 and the 1,600.

"Nick has been our top distance runner for four years," coach David Stroh said. "Nick will be one that we will gear a lot of things towards."

Hansen, who holds the program record in the 300-meter hurdles (41.2), was seventh at district (41.2) last season.

"Brian came into his own towards the end of last season," Stroh said. "Brian is an all-around good athlete."

Osbun was eighth in the 200 (23.65) last season at district and also will anchor the team's sprint relays. He joined graduated standouts Cody Burris, Robert Carmona and Jeff Robison on the state-qualifying 800-meter relay, which finished 12th in a program-record 1 minute, 29 seconds.

"We're looking for Chris to be the glue of the relays, but at the same time we're looking for him to continue to make a step up in the 100 and 200," Stroh said.

Stroh expects to have a stronger unit in the discus and shot put, led by senior Sean Sward, and juniors Andrew Geisler and Josh Vradenburg.

Stroh hopes his team can compete for an OCC-Cardinal Division title, and expects Westerville North and Marysville to emerge as teams to beat.

Last season, the Celtics finished sixth in the OCC-Cardinal (71.33 points) behind champion Olentangy Liberty (114.33), second at district (70) behind champion Gahanna (123) and 20th at regional (13) behind champion Gahanna (81).

"Last season we were a senior-dominated team and you never know what you're going to get when you lose all those seniors," Stroh said. "The exciting part is there's a lot of openings. We have a core of juniors and seniors that have never been here before, so it's going to be interesting to see what they can do."

•The girls team finished seventh (26) at the Hammond Relays, behind first-place Pickerington Central (86).

The Celtics are looking to advance its first athlete to regional under Stephens.

"I feel a lot more prepared coming into this year," Stephens said. "It's nice to know all the girls, all the returners and have that under my belt so I know who they are. It's a lot easier the second time around than the first time."

Last season, the Celtics finished seventh in the OCC-Cardinal (37) behind champion Westerville Central (161.5) and 13th at district (9) behind champion New Albany (108.5).

Sophomore Rebecca Rings, who holds the program record in the 1,600 (5:22.27), returns. Last season, she finished fifth at district (5:22.27).

Also back is sophomore sprinter Amy Erdelsky, who missed action last season with a shin injury.

"Amy was hurt at the end of last year, so she didn't really get to push as hard as she wanted to at the end of the season. But earlier in the season she was posting times that would have qualified into the region," Stephens said.

Stephens expects junior distance runner Audrey White to be a leader of the relatively young team.

The seniors are Ashley Aslo, Brittanee Barton, Morgan Gallatin, Carli Gasparro, Kirby McKenna and Kristen Mitchell.

The team features 24 sophomores and 15 freshmen.

"They are a real competitive team and that makes me excited because if you're positive, you're eager to work hard and you're competitive then you're going to go far," Stephens said.

At a glance

•Coaches: Boys -- David Stroh, second season; Girls -- Randi Stephens, second season

•Next meet: Today vs. Grandview

•Key athletes: Boys -- Brian Hansen, Chris Osbun and Nick Schneider; Girls -- Amy Erdelsky, Rebecca Rings and Audrey White

SCHEDULE

March 27 Hammond Relays at Pickerington Central

April 1 vs. Grandview

*April 6 vs. Westerville North

April 9 Panther Invitational at Hilliard Darby

April 13 at Olentangy Liberty

April 17 Dublin Track Classic at Dublin Coffman

April 20 at Westerville South

April 23 Freedom Relays at Olentangy Liberty

April 27 vs. Olentangy

May 1 Tri-meet at Jerome (teams to be announced)

May 4 vs. Marysville

May 8 Bradley Invitational at Hilliard Bradley

May 13, 15 OCC-Capital meet at Olentangy

*OCC-Capital meet