Hilliard Davidson High School boys track and field coach Jim Smith wasn't sure if his team would be able to top its accomplishments from 2012, when it won league and district titles.
It turns out that the Wildcats could, as they won their fourth consecutive OCC-Central Division championship and third district title in a row and scored nine points in the Division I state meet, six more than in 2012.
"Last season was the best season we had ever put together up until that point, but this one was even better," Smith said. "This was the best season our team as a whole has ever had because we defended our conference and district titles and scored more points and competed in more events at state than we did last year."
In the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, juniors Joe Bernard, Dametrius Clark, DaMarcus Nelson and Phillipie Motley combined to place fifth in the 1,600-meter relay (3 minutes, 18.12 seconds) and eighth in the 800 relay (1:29.12).
Motley also competed in two individual events, placing fifth in the 100 (10.91) and 10th in the 200 (22.08).
Also at state, Bernard finished 12th in the 400 (50.45) and senior Tyler Anthony finished 13th in the discus (153 feet, 1 inch).
Davidson tied Chardon and Mentor for 23rd at state, behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
In the regional meet held May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, Motley was runner-up in the 100 (10.77) and placed third in the 200 (21.87) and the 1,600 relay finished third (3:19.38). Finishing fourth were the 800 relay (1:28.39), Bernard in the 400 (49.54) and Anthony in the discus (155-0), as the top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
Also competing at regional were Nelson in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 40.51) and long jump (12th, 20-5 3/4), junior Garrett Knapik in the 3,200 (eighth, 9:36.88), sophomore Colin Burdette in the 1,600 (ninth, 4:35.81), the 3,200 relay of Burdette, Knapik, sophomore Johnny McKeown and freshman Robert LeFevre (11th, 8:28.49), the 400 relay of junior Garrett McIlvain, LeFevre, Clark and senior Michael Kreiser (11th, 44.52), senior Jonathan Ellis in the 400 (11th, 52.96), McIlvain in the pole vault (12th, 13-0) and freshman Jacob Ross in the high jump (10th, 6-2) and long jump (14th, 20-3/4).
Davidson finished fifth (39) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
The Wildcats scored 140 points in the 15-team district 2 meet that concluded May 25 at Darby to tie Watkins Memorial for first and scored 204.5 points in the OCC-Central meet May 16 and 18 to finish ahead of Olentangy Liberty (127), host Thomas Worthington (75), Dublin Coffman (72.5), Upper Arlington (61), Marysville (53), Westland (31) and Central Crossing (28).
Motley won league titles in the 200 (22.11) and 100 (10.96) and teamed with Clark, Ellis and Bernard to win the 1,600 relay (3:25.22) and with Clark, Kreiser and Nelson to win the 400 relay (43.51).
Also winning league titles were Bernard in the high jump (6-2) and 400 (49.74) and Anthony in the discus (151-3).
"We had a great group of kids and they had an awesome season," Smith said. "We're losing a couple of valuable seniors, but the nice thing is we have nearly everybody coming back, including our entire 1,600 and 800 relays. I hope the younger kids will work hard and step up for us again next year."
Panthers exceeded coach's expectations
Darby coach Matt Fox said his team exceeded his expectations this season.
"I was pleasantly surprised with our entire season," he said. "At the beginning of the year, I could tell we were going to fight, but I didn't know we were going to do this well. About 75 percent of our team is made up of freshmen and sophomores and one of the highlights was seeing how well our youth performed."
The Panthers did not have Division I state qualifiers. Freshman Daniel Reynolds came the closest to qualifying, as he placed fifth in the 1,600 (4:22.92) after getting edged by Olentangy Liberty's Zach VanGundy (4:22.78) at the finish line.
Also competing at regional were the 400 relay of juniors Tim Lines and Colin Rack and sophomores Cal Kelleher and Dwayne Oates (sixth, 43.15), senior Jaleel Johnson in the high jump (seventh, 6-4), junior Josh Humbert in the discus (seventh, 149-9) and the 3,200 relay of Reynolds, junior Ryan Baldridge, sophomore Chase Hampton and senior Kunal Verma (eighth, 8:12.46).
The Panthers finished 16th (12) at regional after finishing fifth (51) in the 16-team district 3 meet that concluded May 25 at home, behind champion Granville (117).
Darby finished fourth (87) in the OCC-Cardinal meet May 16 and 18 at Bradley, behind Westerville Central (138), Westerville North (118.5) and Westerville South (101.5) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (75), Bradley (56), Dublin Scioto (45) and Worthington Kilbourne (37).
Johnson won the league title in the high jump (6-5).
"We went from having one regional qualifier each of the past two years to (10) regional qualifiers this year, so I hope we're doing something well that we can build on," Fox said. "We have (eight) of our regional qualifiers coming back, so I feel good about our future."
Jaguars coach happy with postseason results
First-year Bradley coach Ben Gadfield was pleased with the way his team competed in the Division I postseason meets.
The Jaguars did not have any state qualifiers.
Competing at regional were junior Eric McCabe in the 3,200 (sixth, 9:33.37), senior Nick Christensen in the 3,200 (seventh, 9:35.63), junior Skylar Hartley in the shot put (13th, 45-11 1/2) and senior Fraser Smith in the discus (16th, 103-2).
Bradley finished 29th (5) at regional after finishing sixth (39) in the 15-team district 1 meet behind champion Pickerington North (159.5).
Hartley won the district title in the shot put (49-2 3/4).
The Jaguars finished sixth in the OCC-Cardinal meet, as junior Matt Johnson was runner-up in both the 200 (22.72) and 400 (50.17) and teamed with sophomore Patrick Enright, sophomore Demias Heard and junior Daniel Tepe to win the 800 relay (program-record 1:30.56).
"We didn't finish where we wanted as a team in the OCC meet, but Matt Johnson performed really well for us there," Gadfield said. "The majority of our kids performed well for us at district, even those who didn't move on to regional. And we had more strong performances at regional.
"Our seniors performed well this year, but our future looks really good because most of our top performers are coming back."