The past few weeks have been filled with mixed emotions for the Ready High School boys and girls track and field program.

The past few weeks have been filled with mixed emotions for the Ready High School boys and girls track and field program.

In mid-January, coach Dean Tower was diagnosed with colon cancer and began chemotherapy after receiving a colonoscopy.

Although Tower has been on a temporary leave of absence from teaching, he has continued to coach the track teams.

"This is the last week of the radiation treatments, and then they'll go on a six- to eight-week hiatus where there will be no treatment," Tower said. "Then they'll take whatever's left of the tumor out. Hopefully they got it soon enough. The cancer has not moved into any major organs. Right now, I'm feeling pretty good so I'm pretty optimistic. I think I'm going to beat it."

While Tower was hoping to return to teaching this week, he enjoyed having three Ready athletes compete March 20 in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) indoor state meet in Akron.

Seniors Sarah Battle (sixth in the long jump, 16 feet, 1 inch) and Andrew Mantell (didn't make finals in the long jump), and junior Emily Morris (eighth in the shot put, 37 feet, 9 1/4 inches) all competed.

Battle and Morris are among the top returnees for a girls team which returns all five of its participants from the Division II state meet last year. Mantell leads a boys team that has back four competitors from the Division III state meet.

Last season, Morris finished second (40-11) in the state after winning CCL (40-10) and district 2 (40-3/4) titles and finishing fourth (39-5) at the regional.

The Ready girls were fourth (86) in the CCL behind champion Hartley (142), and took third (99) at district and 14th (17) at the regional.

Battle ran on the 400-meter relay along with seniors Heather Manning and Katie Trigg and junior Clare Bochy. They were sixth (51.2 seconds) in their heat and 12th overall at state.

Others back for the girls team include junior Lindsay Wiseman (hurdles, long jump) and sophomores Niki Brown (distance), Michelle Kaiser (distance), Meghan Rivera (sprints) and Abby Schofield (middle distance). Freshmen Carly Culbertson (sprints), Mackenzie Cutteridge (sprints) and Taylor Longette (shot put) are others who should contribute.

Mantell was 14th in the 800 (2:03.73) at state last year. Also back are senior Dana DePassio and juniors Demetrius Clark and Christian Knapper, who ran on the 800 relay that finished eighth (1:32.6) in a state semifinal heat and 13th overall. Jesse Hill, a 2009 graduate, joined DePassio, Clark and Knapper on the 800 relay as it finished third (1:33.09) and on the 400 relay that was first (44.82) at the district 2 meet. The 800 relay was fourth (1:33.51) and Mantell took third (1:58.41) at the regional as Ready finished tied for 17th (16).

The Silver Knights tied Worthington Christian for fourth (52) at the CCL meet behind champion St. Charles (133) and took sixth (67) in district 2.

Also looking to contribute are seniors Lucus Detty (shot put, discus), Steve Perry (distance) and Justin Moore (shot put, discus), juniors Kyle Bergman (hurdles), Nick Frye (sprints) and Robert Reed (distance), sophomore Cody McCoy (shot put, discus) and freshman Tyron Slone. Frye is a transfer from Central Crossing.

"For the girls team, I'm solid in every event," Tower said. "This should be one of the better girls teams all the way through, and even our boys team should be much stronger, especially being in Division III. I'm looking for two good teams."

•Second-year baseball coach Harry Caruso knows his seven returning seniors haven't forgotten the disappointment from relinquishing a late lead in a 6-5 loss to Heath in a Division III district semifinal last season.

"A lot of these guys have high hopes for this season," Caruso said. "We were basically one pitch from going to the district final, and now it's just a matter of hard work."

Ready likely wouldn't have made it as far as it did last season if not for Tyler Davis, a senior who pitched his team to an 8-0 shutout win over Grandview in a district semifinal. The right-hander, who will be the team's No. 1 starter and also should see time at first base and designated hitter, went 1-3 with a 3.43 ERA in a team-high 51 innings last year.

Senior Jeremy Finchum and junior Matt Magni, who went 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA and earned second-team all-CCL honors along with Davis, also should be in the rotation.

Finchum will start at shortstop when he's not on the mound. Other key returnees are seniors Jordan Carnes (2B/OF), Matt Feeney (2B or 3B) and Dwight Etgen (C/P). Etgen could see time as the team's closer.

Chase Chapman (OF) and Andrew Clarke (OF) round out the senior class.

Also looking to contribute are juniors Jacob Chapman (C/P), Erik Dubiel (P/SS), Jeff Johnson (OF), Ryan Moore (utility), Rhon Music (utility) and Landon Wolfe (utility), and sophomores Ryan Horn (P/2B/SS) and Sam Wolf (C/3B).

Ready lost nine seniors after going 12-17 overall and 0-10 in the CCL behind champion Watterson (9-1).

The biggest graduation losses were second-team all-district infielder Jamie Buzard (.470, 30 RBI), first-team all-CCL selection Philippe Dumont (.417, 20 RBI) and second-team all-CCL selection Joey Kulp (.387, 29 RBI, 1.31 ERA).

The Silver Knights beat Centerburg 13-3 in the first round of the tournament before upsetting fourth-seeded Grandview to reach a district semifinal for the sixth time in eight seasons.

"We've got a good group and a good nucleus of seniors," Caruso said. "We didn't really do well in the CCL last year, but we've just got to challenge those schools."

•The boys tennis team should be in line for a step up this season after going 0-13 overall and 0-5 in the CCL last season.

The biggest reason for optimism is the return of one of Ohio's top players in junior Khang Thai. A state qualifier as a freshman, Thai missed all but one match last season because of a broken leg.

Also returning are the eight players who comprised last year's team: The sophomore first-doubles team of Joey Waldo and Zac Wiser and sophomores Joseph Covietz, Joseph Dado, Thomas Livingston, Jordan McVey and Eddie Weeks.

Others in the mix for playing time as first-year players are seniors Eddy Bahen, Anthony Castorano and Pete Galentine, junior Max Kamer and sophomore Josh Hicks.

"Last year we won some courts, but we never won an entire match," coach Jen Donaldson said. "With our first singles and first doubles courts, this year we should be able to win some matches. We're looking for the team to get more experience and more wins."

•The softball team opened last Tuesday against Liberty Union and plays Tuesday against visiting Jonathan Alder and Wednesday at Fairbanks.

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 29 played Big Walnut

March 31 played Hamilton Township

April 6 vs. Whetstone

April 8 vs. Newark Catholic

April 10 vs. Olentangy Orange

*April 12 at DeSales

April 13 at Marion-Franklin

*April 14 vs. Hartley

April 15 vs. Bloom-Carroll

*April 16 vs. Watterson

*April 19 at Worthington Christian

*April 21 at St. Charles

April 22 at Hilliard Bradley

*April 23 vs. DeSales

April 24 at Fisher Catholic vs. Irish and Granville

*April 26 at Hartley

*April 28 at Watterson

*April 30 vs. Worthington Christian

May 1 vs. Thomas Worthington (DH)

*May 3 vs. St. Charles

May 4 vs. West Jefferson

May 6 at Worthington Kilbourne

May 8 vs. Marysville (DH)

BOYS TENNIS

March 29 played Bloom-Carroll

May 30 played Centennial

April 10 at Whetstone

April 12 vs. Canal Winchester

*April 13 at Watterson

April 14 vs. Jonathan Alder

April 15 at Jonathan Alder

April 19 at Wellington

*April 20 vs. Hartley

April 21 vs. Grandview

April 22 at Jonathan Alder

April 26 at West Jefferson

*April 27 at St. Charles

April 28 vs. Wellington

April 29 vs. Lancaster

May 3 at Westland

*May 4 vs. Worthington Christian

May 6 vs. Briggs

May 10 at Village Academy

*May 11 at DeSales

May 12 at Central Crossing

TRACK & FIELD

April 3 at Red Raider Invitational at London

April 6 at Grandview

April 10 at Granville

April 13 at Bloom-Carroll

April 16 at Hilliard Bradley

April 24 at Bloom-Carroll Invitational

May 1 at Anthony Wilson Invitational at Franklin Heights

May 4 at Columbus Academy vs. Vikings and Columbus School for Girls

*May 13, 15 at CCL meet at DeSales

*CCL contest