Dublin Scioto High School boys track and field coach Kevin Foley believes juniors Kenny Mayes and Cody Steffy should be motivated for next season after falling shy of qualifying for the Division I state meet.
In the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, Mayes placed fifth in the 800 meters (1 minute, 55.58 seconds) and Steffy was fifth in the long jump (21 feet, 3 inches), as the top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Also at regional, the 1,600 relay of junior Christian Wade, senior Connor Howard, sophomore Tomo Hayasaka and Mayes finished 10th (3:29.08).
Scioto scored eight points at regional to tie Marysville for 21st behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
"We had a couple near-misses to (qualify for) state, which the goal is always to advance people there," said Foley, who completed his 18th season leading the program. "Cody Steffy missed by an inch-and-a-half in the long jump and all four runners who finished in front of Kenny Mayes at regional were the top four finishers at state. That's the kind of thing that will push him to get better."
Newark senior Anthony Johnson finished first at state in the 800 (1:51.58), with Reynoldsburg senior Dominik Seitzer (1:52.49), Westerville North senior Jacob Dumford (1:52.85) and Lancaster junior Stephen Sparks (1:53.12) rounding out the top four.
Sparks also finished fourth at regional, 1.51 seconds ahead of Mayes.
Scioto finished 10th (22) in the 16-team district 3 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, behind champion Granville (117), and scored 45 points in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley to place seventh, behind Westerville Central (138), Westerville North (118.5), Westerville South (101.5), Darby (87), Jerome (75) and Bradley (56) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (37).
"The commitment these (five) seniors had was incredible," Foley said, referring to Howard, Gregg Howard, Connor Ritchey, Michael White and Yeohoon Yoon. "The world, in general, seems to be lacking in commitment and that's something that they had all year.
"We had good leadership from them, particularly in their actions. They lived up to the high standards of the program and sent a signal to the underclassmen to aspire to those standards and to carry them on."
In addition to Hayasaka, Mayes, Steffy and Wade, among those expected to be key contributors next season are juniors Ahmad Abusharkh, Derek Agbiake and Brandon Sullivan and freshman Jestin Penn.
"We have good young talent, especially in sprints with freshman and sophomore groups that gives us reason for optimism," Foley said. "We hope with a little luck we won't have injuries like we had this year. That way, some exciting things could happen."
Distance corps led way for Celtics
A young distance corps led the way for the Jerome this spring.
Juniors Mitch Leitch and Jake Mandel both competed in the Division I state meet in the 3,200. Leitch reached the awards podium by finishing in a personal-best 9:17.02 and Mandel finished 11th (9:27.13).
Leitch arrived at that meet with two left spikes and had to borrow a right shoe from Johnson, who had won the 800 two events prior to the 3,200.
"Mitch came ready that day," coach Charlie Kattenhorn said. "... He had a size 13 (shoe) on his left foot and an 11 1/2 on his right. I think he ran so fast so he could take the shoe off."
Leitch and Mandel also competed at state in the 3,200 relay with junior Graham Stecz and sophomore Nick Foley, finishing 16th (8:06.88).
"We are incredibly proud of those guys," Kattenhorn said. "We knew the (3,200 relay) field was very good. I think we knew our best chance to make the podium was in the (open) 3200."
Jerome scored three points at state to tie five teams for 41st behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
The Celtics finished 10th (25) at regional, fourth (74.5) in the 16-team district 2 meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (140) and fifth in the OCC-Cardinal meet.
Also competing at regional were senior Nate Crowson in the pole vault (no height), freshman Bradley Davis in the 1,600 (11th, 4:38.95), senior Tyler Holcomb in the high jump (no height), Foley in the 800 (13th, 2:03.99), junior Chase Stewart in the 1,600 (sixth, 4:27.31) and Stecz in the 800 (eighth, 1:57.27).
"Our distance crew will be our strength again (next season), but our sprints will be improved," Kattenhorn said. "Junior Aaron Muresan is back. Sophomore Alex Jacobs and freshmen Ian Black, Doug Kayuha and Trevor Marcus will all be back and they showed great growth this year.
"We are looking forward to 2014. I think there are some pretty talented kids and they are excited to see what they can do after we get after it a little bit this offseason."
The Celtics lose six seniors in Crowson, Holcomb, Stephen Gaber, Ryan Moeller, Nikhil Rivera and Zach Sherman.
"Our senior class this season was a small one, but they were great leaders," Kattenhorn said. "They were such a small group that they had to rely on the younger guys to compete and compete well. I think they recognized that early and embraced their roles as team leaders.
"Zach Sherman was one of our true leaders on this team. He won our 'Celtic Knot' award, which goes to the athlete who we, as coaches, believe best exemplifies what we look for in our athletes."
Shamrocks gained valuable experience
Coffman did not have any Division I state qualifiers this season and its only regional qualifier was sophomore Zach Bons, who finished seventh in the 1,600 (4:28.45).
The Shamrocks, who lose 17 seniors, scored two points at regional to tie Delaware and Dover for 34th, finished 11th (20) in the district 3 meet and placed fourth (72.5) in the OCC-Central meet May 16 and 18 behind Davidson (204.5), Olentangy Liberty (127) and host Thomas Worthington (75) and ahead of Upper Arlington (61), Marysville (53), Westland (31) and Central Crossing (28).
"(The seniors were) a group that our underclassmen could truly look up to and learn from," coach Chad Biegler said. "They always worked hard in practice and took the sport seriously."
Among those expected to return are Bons, juniors George Boateng, David Gbenro and Thomas Solomon, sophomores Scott Cameron and Dylan Daugherty and freshmen Jason Boateng and John Graf.
"We had 20 underclassmen earn varsity letters this season with a few others coming close," Biegler said. "Our top underclass performer was sophomore Zach Bons."