An influx of newcomers, several of which are first-year competitors as seniors and veterans of other sports, should help the Grove City High School track and field teams.

An influx of newcomers, several of which are first-year competitors as seniors and veterans of other sports, should help the Grove City High School track and field teams.

They include seniors Connor Lucas and Tyler Cook, both of whom played football and are expected to compete in the boys sprint events and relays, in addition to senior Danielle Terry (sprints, relays) and junior Gabby Rodriguez (throws). Rodriquez previously played softball in the spring, and Terry was a soccer player. Two other newcomers are junior Brandon Bapst (400 meters, high jump) and freshman Nick Bapst (sprints, relays), both of whom play boys basketball.

"We were able to get a lot of kids from other sports who are new to us," eighth-year coach Jane Taylor said. "Technique-wise, we're still working with them on mechanics, of course, but they're all working their tails off.

"Track is a little different than other sports. You don't really have that crowd to feed off. You have to be self-driven, and these new kids are. They've all been positive additions."

The early results are encouraging, too. The boys team finished third (69.33 points) among 16 teams behind champion Logan Elm (154.5) and host Watkins Memorial (127) in the opening Icebreaker Invitational on March 24. The Greyhounds won both the 400 relay (45 seconds) and 800 relay (1:34.9).

Rodriguez placed second in the discus (99 feet, 4 1/4 inches) at Watkins Memorial behind returning Division II state-qualifier Katie White of Heath (121-10 1/2). Taylor said Rodriquez already has reached 110-0 in practice.

"We didn't have anybody score in that event last year," said Taylor, whose girls team finished 12th (34) among 15 teams at Watkins Memorial behind champion Hilliard Darby (114.5).

Seniors Elayna Brizendine (sprints), Miranda Gaitten (sprints) and Sarah Ellis (distance) and junior Annie Winkler (distance) are among the top returnees for the girls team, which finished ninth (17) in last year's Division I, district 3 meet behind champion Dublin Scioto (139). Brizendine and Gaitten were part of the regional-qualifying 400 relay (14th, 51.98) and also an 800 relay that placed fifth (1:49.63) at district to miss a regional berth by one spot. Winkler finished fifth in the 1,600 (5:22.42) and sixth in the 3,200 (13:06.11).

Senior Harve Crabtree was a regional qualifier in both the 110 hurdles (15th, 17.0) and 300 hurdles (14th, 44.04) for the boys team, which finished 10th (16) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (116.5). Other top returnees include seniors Jake Kursinskis (middle distance), Ryan Barbari (sprints, relays), Jordan Fisher (sprints, relays), Drey Thompson (sprints, middle distance, relays), Chris Hoffman (throws) and Nick Roach (relays, sprints).

Thompson placed third (52.7) in the 400 at Watkins Memorial while Kursinskis was fourth (2:05.9) in the 800 and fifth (4:43) in the 1,600. Crabtree, who also throws the discus, took third (16.1) in the 110 hurdles and fifth (43.6) in the 300 hurdles. Junior Ethan Jean-Louis placed fifth (5-10) in the high jump.

The boys team finished eighth (27.5) in last year's OCC-Ohio Division meet behind Pickerington North (156), Reynoldsburg (107), Gahanna (92), Lancaster (83), Pickerington Central (80), Newark (52) and Groveport (50.5). The girls team also was eighth (15) behind Central (159), North (140.5), Reynoldsburg (116), Gahanna (97.5), Lancaster (73), Groveport (31) and Newark (23).

Taylor said she believes both teams can improve on those results.

"Absolutely," she said. "I think we're going to be stronger with over 100 kids out. This is the most we've had in a long time, and I think we're deeper in almost every event. Our sprints and relays are our strengths, and we've improved our distance group."