Coach Brian Schoch said the state qualifiers for the Grandview Heights High School track and field program were part of a special experience.
The Bobcats competed in the Division III state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, but did not score in the boys or girls competitions. Columbus Academy won the boys championship with 49 points as 67 teams scored and Versailles (28) won the girls title as 75 teams scored.
"We came by (Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium) on (June 6) and I told them that anyone who runs track or cares about track is going to be here (at state)," Schoch said. "These kids were able to compete the past two days in front of 15,000 people, or there about. It was just an awesome experience for these kids.
"It's great just to be able to get here. I don't think a lot of people understand just how good track is in the state of Ohio and how hard it is just to get here. It's something big that they will always remember."
Sophomore Ali Lachey led the girls team, placing ninth in the 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, 19.88 seconds.
"I thought that I started fine, but I was kind of behind with the pack way up ahead of me," she said. "It was hard to move up into that. ... I placed better this year (after finishing 11th in the 1,600 last season). Last year I was really nervous because I was all by myself out there. This year I was much more calm."
For the boys team, junior Luke Evans was 10th in the 1,600 (4:27.99).
"I went out too fast and then I was getting boxed in," he said. "I was second at 300 (meters) and was at 63 (seconds) at 400 when I'm usually at 65. I knew that I would be feeling it on the second and third laps.
Evans and Lachey both competed for the Bobcats in the Division III state cross country meet last fall at National Trail Raceway. They said the state experiences were distinctly different.
"It's a lot different in cross country, and not just with the crowd," Evans said. "It's a whole different atmosphere. In track, everyone sees you all of the time. Cross country seems more laid back. Track goes by so much faster. ... It seems more intense."
"Here at state (track), everyone is surrounding you, and there are a lot of people," Lachey said. "In cross country, you're off by yourself for a lot of (the race). You can feel the crowd at state track."
Evans joined senior Chase Gage, sophomore Ryan McHugh and junior Josh Smith in the 3,200 relay, finishing 11th (8:19.31).
"With the relay, you have teammates all working together," Evans said. "With (the 1,600), you're by yourself and it's a lot tougher mentally.
"We were one second off our (record in the 3,200 relay), but we knew we could have done better. We were all around our (personal records individually)."
Sophomore Grant Varner finished 13th in the shot put (49 feet, 9 1/2 inches).
"Grant threw his (personal record) by a foot, and he was the only sophomore in the field," Schoch said. "There were probably about 1,000 people there watching and he threw well under that kind of pressure. It was a good experience for him and should help in the coming seasons."
For the girls, the 3,200 relay of Lachey, senior Anna Davis and juniors Laura Satterthwaite and Halli Bair was 14th in 10:00.51 and the 800 relay of sophomore Emma Hecker, senior Lindsey Smith, Davis and sophomore Emily Burns was 14th in 1:51.58.
The 1,600 relay of Bair, senior Julie Menke, Lachey and Burns was 15th (4:14.19).
Tennis team finds success in balance
The boys tennis team finished 12-6 overall and fourth (17 points, 3-3) in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio Division behind champion Columbus Academy (51, 6-0).
"I thought we did a great job and balance was the key to our success," said coach Ray Corbett, who completed his 23rd season. "This was one of our stranger seasons with people missing time for valid reasons like the robotics program, camp counseling, senior shows and those sorts of things. One good thing about that is that this group had balance from Nos. 1 to 9 and that meant we were able to handle that."
The doubles team of seniors Luke Snider and Trevor Voelker lost to Bexley's Will Gingery and Max Knox-Kelly 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 24 at Academy, as the top four singles players and doubles teams advanced to state.
Snider and Voelker finished fourth in the Academy sectional that concluded May 20.
Senior Joe Huggins and junior Peter Bonn reached a district-qualifying match, losing to Academy's Evan Alexander and Ryan Jung 6-1, 6-0.
In singles, junior Nick Luckenback beat Linden-McKinley's Corey Hughes 6-3, 6-0 before losing 6-1, 6-0 to Nick Hancart of DeSales. Freshman Micah Miller defeated West Jefferson's Garrett Beachy 6-1, 6-0 in a play-in match before losing 6-0, 6-0 to top-seeded Joel Montgomery of Worthington Christian. Junior Nick Eaton lost to Buckeye Valley's Eddie Fairbanks 6-4, 6-4 in the first round.
Huggins, Snider and Voelker were the only seniors.
"We had a pretty good group of (senior) kids like Luke, Trevor and Joe," Corbett said. "Luke and Trevor won a lot of matches, especially in doubles in the last couple of years. They were seeded fourth in sectional and made it to district. Joe Huggins played where we needed him in singles and doubles and had a really solid year."
Expected back next season are juniors Bonn, Eaton, Austin Lewis, Luckenback and Jon Sterneker and freshmen Miller and Luke Treasure.
"The kids worked hard and improved during the season. Most are multi-sport athletes who come out for tennis," Corbett said. "Nick Luckenback loves the game and he'll work hard to get better. Nick Eaton, Peter Bonn and Micah Miller should all be back. We should have a good nucleus next year."