The Hilliard Bradley High School boys track and field team had some big holes to fill in its lineup after seniors Sam Darling and Terell Stanford chose not to return this season.
Darling finished seventh in the 100 meters (11.07 seconds) and 11th in the 200 (22.05) in the Division I state meet a year ago to become the first member of the program to place at state. Stanford and Darling also led the 1,600 relay to a 10th-place finish (3:21.63) and the 400 relay to a 12th-place finish (43.29).
Despite the loss of those sprinters, Bradley has started strong this spring.
On April 5, the Jaguars scored 133.5 points to win the 13-team Springfield Shawnee Invitational ahead of runner-up Shawnee (125.5).
On April 14, Bradley tied Dublin Scioto and Olentangy for 10th (28) in the 16-team Dublin Coffman Classic behind champion Hilliard Davidson (82). In that meet, the Jaguars established two program records despite missing nearly half their roster because of ACT exams and a community service project.
Troy Kelleher finished second in the 3,200 in a program-record 9:39.01, behind Brunswick’s Tyler Menear (9:32.46). Richie Gopel placed fourth in the 800 in a program-record 1:59.92, and Jacob Markusic finished third in the 1,600 (4:27.02).
“It was nice to get a win early in the season and I think the guys who did compete for us at Coffman were pretty competitive,” coach Jon Agriesti said. “We’re still trying to develop our younger sprinters and throwers, but we have a strong distance crew and we’ve been pretty competitive overall.”
The Jaguars will compete in the Fulton Relays on Friday, April 20, at Lancaster.
“Our distance relays as well as our 1,600 relay and 400 relay should do well,” Agriesti said. “But we probably don’t have the depth to fill out a relay meet all that well this season. We’ll see.”
Davidson boys coach Jim Smith was pleased to see his team win at Coffman ahead of runner-up New Albany (78). Eight days earlier, the Wildcats scored 204 points to win the eight-team Panther Invitational at Hilliard Darby ahead of the host Panthers (113).
“It’s exciting because this is a big meet and it’s the first time we’ve ever won it,” Smith said of the Coffman Classic. “We scored multiple times in multiple races, so this was a total team effort.”
Davidson trailed New Albany by three points heading into the final event. Damarcus Nelson, Dametrius Clark, Troy Richter and Jack Kincade won the 1,600 relay in 3:30.05 to clinch the victory.
Kincade also won the 300 hurdles (40.73) and Phillipie Motley placed second in the 100 (11.4).
“New Albany had a 19-point lead on us at one point, but it came down to the mile relay and our guys really came through for us in that race,” Smith said. “We had only two firsts, but we had so many people contribute in different ways.”
The Wildcats will compete in the Freedom Relays on Friday, April 20, at Olentangy Liberty.
“It’s a relay meet, so anything can happen when you have that many handoffs going on,” Smith said. “We’ll need to count on a third person to score for the field relays, so we’re working on building up our depth because this meet will help us prepare for our conference meet.”
Jaguars girls team had ‘eye-opener’ at Coffman
Bradley’s girls team also has started strong. It scored 131.5 points to win the 12-team Springfield Shawnee Invitational ahead of runner-up Washington Court House (128) and finished 11th (25) in the 15-team Dublin Coffman Classic behind champion Coffman (87.7).
“Winning the Springfield Shawnee Invitational was a good start for us even though it was a small meet,” coach Thom Nees said. “We had a big bump up in our competition at Coffman, but it was a good eye-opener for how well we stack up against everyone in central Ohio, and we had some good highlights there.”
Amanda Ciani finished second in the 300 hurdles (48.26) behind Reynoldsburg’s Faith Washington (45.27) and placed fourth in the long jump (15 feet, 1 1/2 inches).
Tess Corea placed eighth in the 800 in a program-record 2:27.43. Alex Winter finished 15th in the 3,200 in a program-record 12:25.64.
Kayla Malick also finished fifth in the 100 hurdles (16.42).
“Amanda Ciani had a great day and our distance kids ran well,” Nees said. “It was nice to set a couple of school records, too. This was a reality check for a lot of our girls, but I’m happy with how we competed in rainy weather conditions.”
Bradley will next compete in the Fulton Relays.
“We had a couple of bad handoffs in the 800 relay at Coffman, so we’re going to work on getting our handoffs down in the sprint relays,” Nees said.