The Hilliard Bradley High School boys track and field team is hoping to sprint toward the top of the OCC-Capital Division and make a stronger run in the Division I postseason in its second season.

The Hilliard Bradley High School boys track and field team is hoping to sprint toward the top of the OCC-Capital Division and make a stronger run in the Division I postseason in its second season.

Having junior Sam Darling return definitely will aid the cause.

"Sam had a conflict with club soccer last year, but that appears to be resolved this year," coach Jon Agriesti said. "He is an all-around sprinter and is very versatile. We could use him anywhere in sprints and in the (800-meter and 1,600-meter) relays.

"He is one of the best quarter-milers in the area. He ran 49 seconds consistently as a freshman at Darby and I truly believe he could've won the regional last year."

The Jaguars, who opened March 29 in a dual at Watkins Memorial, are loaded in the sprints. Senior Marquis Copeland, competing in track for the first time, will join seniors Markus Bryant, Jeffie Johnson and Corey Straight, juniors Terell Stanford, Blake Scipio and Darling and sophomore Matt Bryant.

Last season, the 400 relay of Markus Bryant, Matt Bryant, Stanford and Scipio was fourth (44.36) in the district 3 meet to advance to regional. It was the only event in which the Jaguars advanced.

The foursome placed ninth (44.34) at regional, as the Jaguars did not score and Gahanna (63) won the regional title.

The boys finished fifth (52) at the home OCC-Capital meet behind Watkins Memorial (184), Big Walnut (137), New Albany (109) and Olentangy Orange (71), and ahead of Mount Vernon (41), Delaware (40) and Franklin Heights (24).

While Bradley is deepest in sprints, the distance crew has talent. Senior Ahmed Dualeh and juniors Austin Alpeter, Jacob Markusic and Troy Kelleher qualified to the state indoor meet in the 3,200.

"That's a good group and they have worked hard and are ahead of where they were last season," Agriesti said.

Also competing in distance events will be junior Mike McDunn, sophomore Marlon Dodds and freshman Eric McCabe. Senior Jerry Briggs, junior Jesse McGraw and freshman Daniel Tepe will compete in hurdles.

Agriesti said the team is attempting to put athletes in the right spots in field events and trying different options.

"I think we'll be much improved in the long jump and pole vault," he said. "We're trying to find someone to fill in with Scipio at high jump and we still need work in throws."

Junior Conor Rains has reached 11 feet in pole vault and Agriesti said it won't take long for him to get to 12 feet. Matt Bryant is near 21 feet in the long jump and it appears Copeland could be a strong second competitor there.

Senior Tyrone Ford and juniors Tony Harvard and Colt Posey will compete in throws.

Girls coach Thom Nees is taking a wait-and-see approach to the season.

"We're looking good in practice, but it's hard to gauge where we are until we've had the first meet," Nees said.

After competing March 29 at Watkins Memorial, the Jaguars will compete in the Wildcat Premier at Davidson on Saturday, April 2.

"Those will be good tests because Watkins is the defending (OCC-Capital) champion and the Wildcat Premier has some great teams and competition," Nees said.

Nees said he expects the Jaguars to have more scoring balance this season.

"Last year we were sprint heavy, but I do think we'll be much better at throws and distance," Nees said. "We've also picked up some sprinters and we think we can score in other field events as well."

Leading the sprint corps will be seniors Mackenzie Gill and Emily Lebsock, with junior Celina Tunila and sophomore Kayla Malik adding depth. Senior Kate Johnston, who has been out with a hip injury, is expected to compete in sprint relays.

Gill, Johnston, Lebsock and Malik finished fourth (50.58) in the 400 relay at district to advance to regional. The Jaguars (12) tied Central Crossing for 13th place in the district 4 meet as New Albany (120) won. The relay was 11th (50.27) at regional as Bradley failed to score and Reynoldsburg (95) won.

The top competitors in distance will be seniors Alisha Mackintosh, Maddie McDonald (mid-distance) and Becca Nikolaus, along with junior Lauren McCabe.

Senior Jordyn Ebert will compete in hurdles.

In field events, senior Emily Boyd and junior Courtney Brown will lead in throws, with junior Vicki Horton joining Tunila in pole vault. Sophomores Devin Baith and Caitlin Prestel will compete in the high jump.

The Jaguars (56) finished seventh at the home league meet, behind Watkins Memorial (145.5), New Albany (138), Mount Vernon (82.5), Orange (82), Big Walnut (72) and Franklin Heights (62), and ahead of Delaware (25).