Just as Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field coach Roger Whittaker expected, his team didn't come close to winning a second consecutive district championship.
Just as Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field coach Roger Whittaker expected, his team didn't come close to winning a second consecutive district championship when it competed in the Division I, district 1 meet that concluded May 21 at Hilliard Bradley.
But after the Lions scored 67 points to place fourth in the 14-team meet behind Dublin Coffman (152), Big Walnut (79) and Olentangy (77.5), Whittaker said he was thrilled that all four of his relays, along with three individuals, placed in the top four to qualify for the regional meet, which began May 25 and concludes Friday, May 27, at Pickerington North.
"It's nice to win a district title and I'm not downplaying the significance of it," Whittaker said. "But I'd rather get kids through who have a shot at doing well at regional and state than win a district and then not do as well down the road. I'm really happy with how we competed at district because some of the kids we got through have the potential to keep doing well the next two meets."
Dominae Gaston, Daniella Johnson, Mieshia Parker and Lynnsey Brim combined to win both the 400-meter relay (49.27 seconds) and 800 relay (1:42.78). Taylor Poches ran in place of Brim in the preliminaries of both relays to help Brim, who has been dealing with the effects of a turf toe injury.
"I'm pretty happy with the time our 800 relay ran, and our 400 relay didn't have crisp passes but still won," Whittaker said. "Taylor deserves a lot of the credit for those relays' success, because she was the anchor runner in the preliminaries to help them get that far and to give Lynnsey the rest she needed."
Brim also won the long jump (17 feet, 4 1/2 inches) in only four attempts after it was determined that the runner-up, Big Walnut's Olivia Small (17-1/2), was unlikely to surpass her best jump.
"Lynnsey has a very irritating toe injury, but she's used to it at this point and she knows how to deal with the pain and still perform well," Whittaker said.
Last year, Gahanna scored 32.42 points to finish sixth at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (95).
The top four finishers in each regional event advance to the state meet June 3-4 at Ohio State.
"The only thing we're worried about is advancing people to state at this point," Whittaker said. "Our 400 and 800 relays have a good shot, because those kids are experienced runners and they understand the urgency of running faster at each new meet. Lynnsey just won what was, by far, the toughest district for the long jump, so I'm confident that she will do well again, too."
•The boys team scored 43 points to finish ninth in the 15-team Division I, district 2 meet that concluded May 21 at Bradley, behind champion Hilliard Davidson (109). The Lions had won district titles the past five seasons.
"We have a young team and there was good competition here," coach Ed Rarey said. "This just wasn't our day. The bottom line is the other teams ran better than we did. We won five in a row and now it's time to give up our reign to Hilliard Davidson, which is a fine track and field program."
A week after setting the state record in the pole vault at 16-10, Jake Blankenship finished second in the event (16-6) behind Olentangy Liberty senior Joey Uhle, who broke Blankenship's state record (17-0).
"Jake's height was really good, of course, but the Uhle twins (Chris and Joey) are two of the top high school pole vaulters in the nation, too, so it's going to be competitive every week," Rarey said. "The important thing is Jake is moving on. I think he has a good chance to move on (to state). He just needs to stay consistent."
Junior Jason McDonald placed fourth in the 3,200 (9:51.8) to qualify for regional for the first time.
"This wasn't that hard of a district, but I was nervous because the fifth-place guy (Davidson's Anthony Caviolo, who finished in 9:55.58) was right behind me during the last lap," McDonald said. "The (80-degree) heat definitely took a toll on me. I don't usually run well in warm temperatures. Now, my goal is to score at regional."