Senior Jake Blankenship of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys track and field team has been working toward setting a new state record in the pole vault ever since he cleared a state-, meet- and stadium-record height of 17 feet to win the Division I state meet last season.

Senior Jake Blankenship of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys track and field team has been working toward setting a new state record in the pole vault ever since he cleared a state-, meet- and stadium-record height of 17 feet to win the Division I state meet last season.

He finally reached that goal in the district 1 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby when he won the event with a state-record height of 17-1.

The top four finishers in each district event advanced to the regional that began May 23 and concludes Friday, May 25, at Pickerington North.

"We had four weeks of constant rain on the days I was supposed to pole vault, so I'm just getting back into the groove of things," Blankenship said. "My goal was to jump 17 feet again because I hadn't done it in a while. I'm really happy to jump 17-1 because one of my goals is to be ahead of where I was at this point last year, and this shows that I am."

The Lions scored 85 points in the 16-team district 1 meet to place fourth behind champion Hilliard Davidson (104).

Riak Reese helped score 34 points for Gahanna, as he finished second in both the 100 meters (10.87 seconds) and 200 (21.84) and teamed with Julian Cottrill-Lowe, Carl O'Neal and K.J. Jackson to win the 800 relay (1:28.31).

Reese also teamed with Aaron Roberson, Eric Buckner and Sante Cook to place second in the 400 relay (42.8).

"We did pretty well as a team and Riak is running some of the best times in the state," Blankenship said.

The top four finishers in each regional event qualify for the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.

Last year, the Lions scored 13 points at regional to tie Olentangy for 23rd behind co-champions Thomas Worthington (37) and Westerville North (37).

"We just want to keep getting through to the next level," Blankenship said. "But my dream goal is to break the national record by jumping 18-4 by state."

Girls team finishes third at district

The girls team scored 85 points in the 17-team Division I, district 2 meet that concluded May 19 at Darby to finish third behind Davidson (101.5) and Pickerington Central (93.5).

"To score this many points and get third, wow, I'm pleased with that," coach Roger Whittaker said. "I've been taking our team to big meets all year, and this is where having that kind of competition pays off."

Daniella Johnson helped score 38 points for the Lions, as she won the 100 (12.45) and finished second in the long jump (17-7).

She also teamed with Sara Richards, Mi'Eshia Parker and Dominae Gaston to win the 400 relay (48.45) and with Richards, Sydney Stokes and Samantha Shaw to win the 800 relay (1:42.75).

"Daniella had an all-around great day, and she really shot out of the middle of the pack to win the 100," Whittaker said. "We won championships in the 400 and 800 relays with (personal records). The girls decided this was going to be their meet and a lot of them did really well."

The Lions scored 13 points at regional last year to tie Hilliard Bradley and Marion-Franklin for 16th behind champion Reynoldsburg (88).

"You have to have the heart to hurt to be successful in the postseason and the girls are really buying into that," Whittaker said. "We'll need to have that attitude to get people to state."