Hilliard Bradley High School girls track and field coach Thom Nees is proud of the progress his team made this spring.
"This is only our fourth year as a program and we're still building," he said. "We're not where we want to be, but we're starting to turn the corner and we're getting there. If we keep improving at the rate we improved this year, we'll be contending for team championships before too long."
The Jaguars did not have any state qualifiers. Competing in the Division I regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North were the 400-meter relay of freshman Ariel Brown, senior Kayla Malik, sophomore Hope Sawchuk and junior Sydney Rings (eighth, 50.25 seconds), Malik in the 100 (10th, 13.16), sophomore Sara Reitz in the long jump (11th, 15 feet, 10 inches), sophomore Tes Corea in the 800 (13th, 2:27.28) and junior Cierra Allen in the long jump (15th, 15-2).
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to the state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Bradley scored one point at regional to finish 39th behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
The Jaguars placed eighth (40) in the 17-team district 1 meet that concluded May 25 at Darby behind champion Davidson (90) and finished fifth (78) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet May 16 and 18 at home, behind Westerville South (123), Westerville North (121), Dublin Scioto (88.5) and Westerville Central (87) and ahead of Darby (59.5), Worthington Kilbourne (53) and Dublin Jerome (53).
Malik won the league title in the 100 (12.62).
"We came together as a really young team and did the best we could," Nees said. "A lot of our kids ran their best times at district and regional. We have only five seniors and we have a total of 43 kids who were freshmen or sophomores coming back, so I'm excited about what we can do in the future."
Darby coach excited about team's future
Darby coach Don Seymour believes his team has a promising future.
The Panthers, who did not have any Division I state qualifiers, lose six seniors, including three regional qualifiers.
Competing at regional were senior Jordan Alexander in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 46.71), senior Julissa Poullet in the 1,600 (sixth, 5:16.98) and high jump (11th, 5-0) and the 400 relay of freshmen Anaya Lewis and Skylar Jacobs, sophomore Taylor Kennedy and senior Nikki Misiolek (15th, 52.15).
Darby scored six points at regional to finish 28th and finished sixth (51) in the 16-team district 3 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (141).
Alexander won the district title in the 300 hurdles (45.77) and had the Panthers' highest finish in the OCC-Cardinal meet, placing second in the 300 hurdles (47.32).
"The highlights for me were seeing the growth of our seniors, especially Julissa and Jordan, and having the excitement of watching our youth improve throughout the season," Seymour said. "We had 10 freshmen run at district and almost everyone on our team had personal-best performances there.
"We're losing six seniors, but we have 75 girls coming back so I'm excited about our future."
Hoover led Wildcats throughout season
Davidson capped its season with a strong showing in the Division I state meet.
Senior Lauren Hoover led the Wildcats by winning the 800 (2:10.13) ahead of runner-up Rachel Kotchman (2:11.2) of Brecksville-Broadview Heights and teaming with junior Jane Haines, senior Elsa Saelens and sophomore Lilly Saniel-Banrey to place fifth in the 3,200 relay (9:23.07).
Also competing at state were sophomore Molly Balcer, who placed fifth in the high jump (5-4), and freshman Jane Onders, who finished 15th in the 3,200 (11:50.83).
Hoover also qualified for state in the 1,600, but chose not to compete in the event in order to focus on the 800. She finished fourth at state in the 1,600 (5:01.07) last year.
Davidson scored 18 points at state to tie Chesterland West Geauga for ninth.
"I couldn't be more proud of the way our kids competed in the state meet," coach Matt Beatty said.
Davidson finished third (52) at regional, with Hoover helping to score 27 points by winning both the 1,600 (5:06.59) and 800 (2:12.16), running on the 3,200 relay that placed third (9:29.96) and teaming with freshman Iman Batiste, senior Lizzy Litzinger and junior Ashley Blake to place eighth in the 1,600 relay (4:01.43).
Also competing at regional were Balcer in the high jump (second, 5-4) and long jump (sixth, 16-5 1/4), Onders in the 3,200 (fourth, 11:18.02), Blake in the 100 (fifth, 12.62) and 200 (ninth, 27.01), junior Mackenzie Brown in the pole vault (sixth, 10-4), Saniel-Banrey in the 1,600 (seventh, 5:18.14), the 1,600 relay (eighth, 4:01.43) and the 800 relay of Batiste, Litzinger, senior Maddie Gallagher and senior Cassy Catlett (13th, 1:19.16).
"To finish third in our regional only three points out of first place was pretty impressive," Beatty said.
Davidson captured its third consecutive district title, scoring 90 points in the district 1 meet to finish ahead of runner-up Pickerington Central (78).
Hoover helped score 32 points, winning district titles in both the 1,600 (5:10.66) and 800 (program-record 2:13.91).
The Wildcats also won its first league title since 2010, as they scored 141.5 points in the OCC-Central meet May 16 and 18 to finish ahead of Coffman (140), Olentangy Liberty (110), Upper Arlington (97), host Thomas Worthington (79.5), Central Crossing (49), Marysville (36) and Westland (9).
Davidson trailed Coffman by 3.5 points entering the final event, but the 1,600 relay of Batiste, Litzinger, Blake and Hoover finished first (4:04.16) and Coffman placed fourth (4:10.91), securing the title for the Wildcats.
Hoover helped score 36 points in the league meet, as she also won both the 800 (2:16.17) and 1,600 (5:08.71) and teamed with Saniel-Banrey, Saelens and Haines to place third in the 3,200 relay (9:45.03).
"Winning the OCC meet the way we did was special and it helped turn our entire season around," Beatty said. "We're losing a lot of great seniors who led this team to many championships, but this was a total team effort and we have a lot of good athletes coming back, so I hope we'll still be strong next year."