Coming off the program's first state title since 1981, Columbus Academy boys track and field coach Bob Kirk believes he has a solid core that again should contend for berths in the Division III state meet.
"Every year is a different challenge," said Kirk, who is in his 39th season. "You have a different kind of team with different personalities. We have new guys and we've lost leaders. I like what I have coming back. It's a good group. We still have some leaders."
Last season, the Vikings scored 64 points at state to easily outdistance runner-up Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (31) as 73 teams scored.
In their opening meet April 6, the Vikings finished 16th (19) behind champion Pickerington North (130) in the 21-team Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson.
Key returnees include senior distance runner Dominic Facciolla, senior Tyler Gittins, who competes in the hurdles, middle distance and long jump, and junior hurdler Jack Lint.
Facciolla, who will compete at Columbia University, finished second (1 minute, 53.59 seconds) in the 800 meters at state behind teammate Jon Michael Hilsheimer (1:53.29), who now is competing at Duke University.
Lint won the 300 hurdles (38.91) and Gittins was fourth (39.35).
Lint also anchored the second-place 1,600 relay (3:23.95) and finished fifth in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches). He was ninth in the 110 hurdles (15.35).
Facciolla was third in the 1,600 (4:15.14) and joined Hilsheimer, Gittins and Lint on the 1,600 relay. Facciolla and junior Jake Tuckerman (middle distance) were part of the first-place 3,200 relay (7:55.57).
Facciolla, Lint and Tuckerman are captains.
Other key contributors should be seniors Johnston Allinder (distance), Matt Brigstock (throws), Grant Hansell (long jump/middle distance), Jacob Hill (throws) and T.J. Lee (sprints) and juniors Alex Ho (distance), Isaac Sheumaker (throws) and Ben Uchimura (middle distance/distance).
Last season, Academy was first (113) at regional ahead of second-place Attica Seneca East (47) as 44 teams scored and first (177) in the 14-team district 1 meet ahead of second-place Liberty Union (156.5).
The Vikings finished second (149) in the MSL-Ohio Division meet behind Granville (164.5) and ahead of Bexley (100.5), Licking Valley (81.5), Heath (66.5), Lakewood (45), Whitehall (41) and Newark Catholic (10).
Girls track team has new coach
Kelly Parker has taken over as coach of the girls track team in place of Dani Sparks, who resigned last summer because of work commitments.
Parker, 25, was an assistant last season and the girls cross country coach last fall.
"I think there is a lot of potential," Parker said. "I think it's going to be a very good season."
The Vikings opened by finishing 18th (9) in the Wildcat Premier behind champion Gahanna (125).
Parker took over a team that tied Van Buren and Russia for 28th (9) at state last season behind champion Versailles (39) as 78 teams scored.
Sophomore Julia Rizk (middle distance/distance) was a member of the third-place 3,200 relay (9:37.74) and seventh-place 1,600 relay (4:06.36). She also finished ninth in the 1,600 (5:15.27).
Junior Margaret Sutton (middle distance/sprints) also ran on the 1,600 and 3,200 relays.
Senior Sarah Timko (high jump/hurdles/400) was eighth in the high jump (5-2) after finishing 12th in the event (5-0) in 2011.
"Sarah had a great season last year and is looking forward to having another great season," Parker said. "She's in great shape."
Timko and senior Aziza Corbett (sprints) were members of the 1,600 relay, and sophomore Andrea Ballinger (middle distance) was part of the 3,200 relay.
Sutton was 15th in the 800 (2:24.72) and senior Anjali Kanwar (high jump/400) was 15th in the high jump (4-10).
Other key returnees are junior Susan Peck (distance) and sophomore Elizabeth Falkenberg (middle distance).
"We should have a solid team this year," Parker said. "I'm excited. Everything looks good right now. It's just a matter of how we perform."
Last season, the Vikings finished first (84) in the 23-team district meet ahead of second-place Grandview (77) and second (46) at regional behind Mount Gilead (56) as 46 teams scored.
Academy finished second (127) in the league meet behind Granville (193) and ahead of Bexley (98.5), Heath (95), Whitehall (58), Licking Valley (40), Lakewood (32.5) and Newark Catholic (21).
Returnees, freshman to lead boys tennis team
The boys tennis team returns five players from last season and has added a promising freshman, according to 10th-year coach Jeff Warstler.
"It's a good team," he said. "I'm thinking they can do some things."
Back are senior Abram Schottenstein, who is expected to play second singles, and junior Evan Alexander, who will play third singles.
Also back are senior Ezer Smith and juniors Ryan Jung and Nikhil Patel.
Warstler expects freshman Jacob Wareti to play first singles. His brother, Matt, played at Bexley and was fourth in the Division II state tournament last season.
"Jacob is a freshman and he's dynamite," Warstler said.
Other players are junior Dean Firouzian and sophomores Shrikar Kundur and J.P. Perrini.
Warstler expects Jung and Kundur to play first doubles, with Firouzian, Patel, Perrini and Smith contending for time at second doubles.
Academy opened April 3 by defeating visiting Wellington 5-0. The Vikings beat host Olentangy Liberty 5-0 on April 4 and lost to visiting Cincinnati Sycamore 3-2 on April 6.
The doubles team of Schottenstein and 2012 graduate Langston Hughes reached a quarterfinal of the Division II state tournament last season.
The Vikings lost to Bexley 3-1 in a Division II district final of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association tournament.
"Our kids want to go back to the final four," Warstler said. "You want to win your league -- that always stands at No. 1 -- but I'm sure they want to go back to the final four. It's a good experience."
The Vikings last won the state title in 2010, defeating Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 3-0 in the final.
Academy also lost to Bexley 3-2 in the regular season last year, but the Vikings finished first (36 points, 5-1) in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio ahead of the Lions (35, 6-0) after the league tournament. Granville was third (23, 4-2), followed by Fisher Catholic (19, 3-3), Grandview (17, 2-4), Whitehall (4, 1-5) and West Jefferson (2, 0-6).
The Vikings were 15-7 overall.