Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field coach Roger Whittaker isn't sure what kind of production his team will get in the high jump this season.
The fact that is his only area of concern likely isn't good news for the rest of central Ohio after the Lions won a share of the Division I regional championship last season with Pickerington Central (55 points).
"It'll be very similar to last year's team," said Whittaker, who is in his 26th season. "Right now we've kind of created this monster, and it's growing every year."
Gahanna opened the season April 5 by scoring 147 points to win the 16-team Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson.
Of the 11 competitors the Lions had at last year's state meet, in which they scored 15 points to tie for 13th behind champion Solon (47), eight are back.
Senior Sara Richards and sophomore MiAngel Daniels return after helping the 400-meter relay earn a state runner-up finish (47.72 seconds) and the 800 relay place sixth (1:41.46). Richards also competed on the sixth-place 1,600 relay (3:55.14) with junior Sami Shaw and sophomore Cierra Hill.
The 3,200 relay that placed 13th (9:29.71) featured Shaw, juniors Kelsey Sandlin and Rylee Tanner and sophomore Kearstin Turner.
Also back is junior Sydney Stokes, who finished 11th at state in the long jump (16 feet, 8 3/4 inches).
Daniels, who also took eighth in the 100 hurdles (15.34) at state, will lead a sprint corps that also should include senior Fleetwood Carter, junior Tara Tedrick and freshmen Benja Duff and Ivy McKee.
Stokes also will compete in the hurdles with sophomore Mariah Mackey, and freshman Courtney Owens will add depth in middle distance.
Junior Rachel Brown, who was a regional qualifier in the discus, will compete in that event as well as the shot put.
Senior Lexie Blase, who was a regional qualifier in the pole vault, will be joined in the event by senior Maddie Piccou.
After winning the OCC-Ohio Division title last season, the Lions scored 141.5 points to win the 16-team district 2 meet.
Francesca Bowsher, Daniella Johnson and Reyna Montgomery, who all ran on relays at state, were the only key losses to graduation. Montgomery is playing basketball at Detroit Mercy, Johnson is competing in track for the University of Akron and Bowsher is running at Wittenberg.
"We want to win the conference meet, but we're always looking beyond that," Whittaker said. "We can just throw numbers at you."
Numbers grow for boys team
With a 22-member freshman class, new boys coach Bob Cramer is excited about the future of his program.
"Our numbers seem to be up," Cramer said. "We've got about 63 or 64 kids. They're working very hard and there seems to be a significant amount of talent in (the freshman class)."
Cramer, who had been an assistant in the program since 1982, has taken over for Ed Rarey, who stepped down after 61 seasons but is serving as an assistant coach.
Cramer's first team, which opened the season by finishing fifth (52.5) of 16 teams in the Wildcat Premier behind champion Davidson (117), could be led by its middle-distance and distance corps.
Senior Chris Blakely ran on the 1,600 relay with junior Jordan Burns that was sixth (3:24.94) at regional a year ago. Also competing at regional were junior Matt Ridinger in the 1,600 (10th, 4:36.14), the 3,200 relay of Blakely, Ridinger, senior Conner Roll and junior Kieffer Whiteman (12th, 8:30.78) and Blakely in the 800 (10th, 1:59.18).
Senior John Fife, sophomore Aaron Schaller and freshman Andrew Ray are others running distance, and sophomore Zach Kirkendall should contribute in middle distance.
Juniors Quinton Broomfield and Theo White should compete in sprints and hurdles with Burns.
Senior Adam Davis was ninth in the 110 hurdles (15.58) at regional last season and also is competing in the high jump.
Seniors Sheldon Rentmee-ster and Chris Tackett and junior Miles Johnson are competing in the shot put and discus.
Last season, the Lions were third in the OCC-Ohio, third (106) in the 15-team district 2 meet behind co-champions Davidson and Watkins Memorial (140) and fourth (40) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (99).
Riak Reese, who now is competing at Kent State, won titles in the league, district, regional and state meets in the 100 and 200. He also ran on the third-place 400 relay at state with 2013 graduates Eric Buckner, Mark Daniels and K.J. Jackson.
Gahanna finished seventh (26) at state behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62).
"We'll probably be chasing Pickerington North, and Lancaster seems to have a pretty decent team," Cramer said. "We've been very successful in the past at times and I think we just have to develop a little bit."