The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field team has won the Gahanna Invitational the last seven seasons, winning by a wide margin the majority of the time.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field team has won the Gahanna Invitational the last seven seasons, winning by a wide margin the majority of the time.

Last year, the Lions scored 150 points to easily finish ahead of runner-up Westerville South (112.5).

However, coach Roger Whittaker said his squad will need to turn in a strong performance on Friday to win the Gahanna Invitational once again.

That's because the Lions will face a stronger group of opponents this year in Ashland (girls only), Hilliard Darby, Marion-Franklin, Newark, Pickerington North, Westerville Central and Westerville North.

"This is the most competitive group of teams that I can remember bringing to our meet, and that should make it fun," Whittaker said. "Westerville Central and Westerville North both have good sprint relays. Hilliard Darby has good distance and hurdlers. And Pickerington North has some good athletes, so this won't be a cakewalk. We'll need to perform well across the board to be victorious, because there's good competition in every event."

Whittaker said he's going to utilize his best lineup for the first time this season.

"We're going to unload our ammo this week, because this is the start of the downhill run to state," he said. "We want to send a message, statewide, that we're for real."

The Lions scored 69 points to place sixth of 16 teams in the Ranger Relays last Friday and Saturday at Eastlake North, behind champion Solon (101).

Stephanie Stewart, Tianna Morris, Myeshia Parker and Daniella Johnson won the 400-meter relay in 51.15 seconds.

Placing second were Kassy Thomas in the 800 (2:23.06) and Haley Schmitt, KayKay Garber, Meghan McGuff and Thomas in the 3,200 relay (9:51.16).

Finishing third were Taylor Poches (15 feet, 2 3/4 inches) and Deanne Deal (14-10 1/2) in the long jump relay and Morris, Parker, Dajanae Gaston and Johnson in the 800 relay (1:46.97).

"Sixth was a good finish, considering we had a lot of key people missing," Whittaker said.

•The boys team is aiming to win the Gahanna Invitational for the fifth consecutive season.

Last year, Gahanna scored 157 points to easily finish ahead of runner-up Central Crossing (97.5).

"We're the host team, so this meet should have considerable importance to us," said coach Ed Rarey, who founded the meet in 1957. "I don't have much knowledge of most of the other teams. We're going to show up and do our best and see where that places us."

Even with star sprinter Blake Heriot resting last weekend, the Lions scored 94.5 points to win the Bellaire Relays last Saturday, ahead of runner-up Steubenville Catholic Central (74).

Harry McFann won the 800 (1:58.54) ahead of teammate Tim Schiefer (2:04.6) and Tyler Chandler, Jason McDonald, Schiefer and McFann won the 3,200 relay (8:27.91).

Herman Washington won the 110 hurdles (14.49) and McFann, Chandler, Luke Rogers and Washington placed second in the 1,600 relay (3:32.81).

"Harry did a great job in all of his races and he was instrumental in our team having a great day," Rarey said. "He's the catalyst of our team at this present time."

Jacob Blankenship won the pole vault in a meet-record 14-8 and Luke Pietrykowski, K.J. Newton, Jalen Jones and Washington placed second in the shuttle hurdles relay (1:01.01).

"This is the third week in a row that Jake has broken either a meet or school record," Rarey said. "This was a good team effort all the way through."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna boys and girls track and field teams:

*April 20 - Boys: Defeated Pickerington Central 108-29; Girls: Def. Pickerington Central 81-32

Last Friday-Saturday - Girls: Finished sixth (69) of 16 teams in Eastlake North Ranger Relays, behind champion Solon (101)

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished first (94.5) in Bellaire Relays, ahead of runner-up Steubenville Catholic Central (74)

*Last Tuesday - Competed against Pickerington North

Friday - Gahanna Invitational

*Tuesday - Home vs. Grove City

Wednesday - Girls: At Red Devil Relays at Marion-Franklin

*OCC-Ohio meet