Track & Field
Gahanna girls could surprise
In the 2010 OCC-Ohio Division track and field meet, the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls team used its depth to capture the championship while Reynoldsburg settled for second despite being in the second year of a four-year run of Division I state titles.
The Lions might have the type of roster that could surprise people again this season.
"We just try to sneak up on people," 25th-year coach Roger Whittaker said. "We may not have any bona fide superstars, but we were eight points out of second at the indoor state meet (March 16 at the University of Akron). We've got a bunch of hard-hat girls."
Gahanna opened March 30 by scoring 198 points to win the Icebreaker Invitational ahead of runner-up and host Watkins Memorial (104.5) as 16 teams scored.
In the indoor state meet, the Lions scored 25 points to tie Big Walnut for fourth behind Solon (60.5), Chardon (33) and Cincinnati Sycamore (29) as 61 teams scored.
The top performance was turned in by the 1,600-meter relay of senior Francesca Bowsher and sophomores Sara Richards, Samantha Shaw and Rylee Tanner. They placed second in 4 minutes, 1.77 seconds.
Senior Daniella Johnson, junior Alex Flewellen, sophomores Sydney Stokes and Tara Tedrick and freshman MiAngel Daniels should be among the other key sprinters.
Sophomores Kelsey Sandlin and Heather Kincaid and freshman Kearstin Turner also are running middle distance.
Seniors Chrishna Butler and Ta'Ven Carruthers and Daniels will lead the hurdlers.
Senior Reyna Montgomery and sophomores Najwa Fagih, Christine Sheppard and Tasha Williams should be the top high jumpers.
Whittaker expects Johnson and Stokes to be the top long jumpers, sophomore Lexi Blaes and junior Maddie Piccou to compete in the pole vault and sophomore Rachel Brown to be the top competitor in the shot put and discus.
Last season, Gahanna scored 121 points to place third in the league meet behind Reynoldsburg (154) and Pickerington North (143.5) and ahead of Pickerington Central (120), Grove City (42.5), Groveport (38), Lancaster (32) and Newark (11).
Then in the district 2 meet, the Lions were third (85) behind Hilliard Davidson (101.5) and Pickerington Central (93.5) as 17 teams scored. Johnson won the 100 (12.45), was second in the long jump (17 feet, 7 inches), teamed with Richards and 2012 graduates Dominae Gaston and Mi'Eshia Parker to win the 400 relay (48.45) and joined Richards, Stokes and Shaw on the first-place 800 relay (1:42.75).
In the regional, Gahanna was seventh (27) behind champion Reynoldsburg (77) as 43 teams scored.
The Lions scored eight points at state to tie five teams for 28th behind champion Reynoldsburg (56) as 72 teams scored.
At state, Gaston, Johnson, Richards and Shaw were fifth in the 400 relay (48.51) and fifth in the 800 relay (1:42.46), while Johnson placed ninth in the long jump (16-11 1/2).
"We're deep, but Reynoldsburg is the king until you dethrone them," Whittaker said. "(The OCC-Ohio is) just a strong league. We're just very, very hard working."
Boys team building around sprint duo
The boys team scored three points in the indoor state meet to tie seven teams for 40th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (72) as 54 teams scored.
Senior K.J. Jackson was sixth in the 400 (50.25) and 13th in the 60 (7.15).
With Jackson and senior Riak Reese back, the Lions figure to be strong in the sprinting events this spring while the rest of the team matures.
"We have a very young team this year and we've not been able to really do anything productive because of the weather," said Ed Rarey, who is in his 61st season as coach. "It's also a much smaller team this year than it's been the past two or three years. But I have several people who will let you know that we've been there."
Reese and Jackson were joined by 2012 graduates Aaron Roberson and Julian Cottrill-Lowe on the 800 relay that finished third (program-record 1:27.7) at state last season. Reese was sixth in the 200 (21.99).
Also expected to contribute in sprinting events are senior Eric Buckner and sophomore Theo White.
Buckner and senior Demarcus Graham are the top long jumpers.
Senior Luke Mokma is expected to be the top competitor in the shot put and discus after being a regional qualifier in the discus last season.
Sophomore Quinton Broomfield should be the top hurdler.
Sophomore Matt Ridinger should be among the top distance runners after advancing to the regional meet in cross country last fall.
Gahanna's biggest lost to graduation was Jake Blankenship, who went 17-2 in the pole vault to win his second consecutive state title last June.
Blankenship, who is competing for the University of Tennessee, has a sophomore brother, Drew Blankenship, who is competing for the Lions in the pole vault this spring.
Last season, Gahanna was second (121.25) in the league meet behind Pickerington North (174) and ahead of Lancaster (108), Pickerington Central (87.5), Reynoldsburg (84.25), Groveport (46), Newark (23.75) and Grove City (14.25).
In the 16-team district 1 meet, Gahanna was fourth (85) behind champion Davidson (104). Jake Blankenship won the pole vault (17-1) and Reese was first in the 100 (10.87) and 200 (21.84). Reese also teamed with Cottrill-Lowe, Jackson and 2012 graduate Carl O'Neal to win the 800 relay (1:28.31) and with Roberson, Buckner and 2012 graduate Sante Cook to place second in the 400 relay (42.8).
Gahanna was seventh (32) in the regional behind champion Pickerington North (60) as 38 teams scored.
At state, the Lions were 10th (19) behind champion St. Edward (48) as 70 teams scored.
"We've got some big voids from last year, but we can make up for those," Rarey said. "It'll take us a while, but I've got at least nine or 10 really good ones who are going to be heard from."