Hilliard Davidson High School boys track and field coach Jim Smith believed his team had the ability to put together one of its best seasons in program history.
The Wildcats fulfilled their potential by winning their fifth league championship in a row and their fourth consecutive district title, breaking four program records and finishing in the top 10 in the Division I state meet.
"We knew this group of athletes was capable of doing something special and, all in all, this season turned out well," Smith said. "We won all of our regular-season invitationals, with the exception of one. We also kept our streak of winning OCC and district championships alive and scored really well at state with some remarkable times."
Senior Phillipie Motley placed second in the 100 meters (10.58 seconds) and finished third in the 200 (21.36) in the state meet held June 6 and 7 at Ohio State. Both times are program records.
The 800 relay of senior Damarcus Nelson, sophomore Jacob Ross, senior Dametrius Clark and Motley placed fourth (program-record 1:27.22) and the 1,600 relay of Nelson, Clark, sophomore Robert LeFevre and Motley finished 11th (3:22.23), as the Wildcats scored 19 points to finish 10th behind champion Cleveland Glenville (40) as 71 teams scored.
"We had a great state meet," Motley said. "You can't ask for much more than to finish the way we did."
Davidson finished third (41) at regional held May 28 and 30, behind host Pickerington North (74) and Gahanna (69.5) as 37 teams scored.
The 800 relay won the regional title (1:28.01). The 1,600 relay was the regional runner-up (3:19.07) and Motley placed second in the 100 (10.75) third in the 200 (21.39).
Junior Colin Burdette placed fifth in the 3,200 (9:16.55), finishing one spot shy of qualifying for state.
Also competing at regional were the 3,200 relay of junior Johnny McKeown, senior Garrett Knapik, Burdette and junior Luke Hoover (seventh, 8:05.45), Nelson in the 400 (seventh, 39.51), Ross in the high jump (eighth, 6 feet, 4 inches) and long jump (11th, 19-10 1/2), junior Andrew Brown in the discus (ninth, 135-7) and shot put (12th, 47-6), senior Garrett McIlvain in the pole vault (tied for 11th, 12-6) and Knapik in the 3,200 (12th, 9:52.9).
Davidson scored 122 points to win the 14-team district 3 meet that concluded May 24 at Darby, ahead of runner-up Granville (76).
Motley won the district title in the 100 (10.92).
The Wildcats also won the OCC-Central Division held May 15 and 17, scoring 176.25 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Olentangy Liberty (120) as well as Thomas Worthington (87.25), Dublin Coffman (83), Marysville (69.25), Central Crossing (46), Westland (41) and Upper Arlington (35.25).
Motley won league titles in both the 100 (10.77) and 200 (22.24).
"We were able to do all this even after we lost one of our top performers, (senior) Joe Bernard, who missed the end of the season with an injury," Smith said. "Our seniors as a whole are one of the most successful groups we've had pass through here. We're going to have to find a whole new batch of athletes after we lose our seniors. Hopefully, our younger guys learned from this experience and will come back stronger next year."
Panthers returning three state qualifiers
Darby expects to return three of its five Division I state competitors.
Sophomore Daniel Reynolds finished ninth in the 1,600 (4:15.78) and sophomore Alex Jones, senior Collin Rack, senior Tim Lines and junior Cal Kelleher finished ninth in the 400 relay (43.26).
The top eight finishers in each state event reached the podium.
"It was nice to be back in the state meet this year even though five of our guys missed reaching the podium by only one position," coach Matt Fox said.
At regional, Reynolds placed second in the 1,600 (4:17.9) and the 400 relay placed fourth (42.77) as the Panthers finished 13th (19).
Also competing at regional were senior Josh Humbert in the shot put (sixth, 52 feet, 5 3/4 inches) and discus (sixth, 145-1), Chase Hampton in the 800 (ninth, 1:58.35), Rack in the 100 (11th, 11.14), the 1,600 relay of junior Isiah Thomas, sophomore Willie Seay, freshman Carter Williams and junior Patrick Enright (12th, 3:29.44) and Thomas in the long jump (12th, 19-6).
Darby finished third (74.5) in the district 3 meet. Winning district titles were Humbert in the shot put (51-6) and the 400 relay (42.65).
The Panthers placed second (108.5) in the OCC-Cardinal meet held May 15 and 17, behind Westerville Central (129) and ahead of Bradley (105), Dublin Jerome (97.5), Westerville North (69), Canal Winchester (55), Westerville South (49) and Dublin Scioto (42).
Winning league titles were Humbert in both the shot put (54-5 ???) and discus (151-2) and Reynolds in the 1,600 (4:23.53).
"We did well in the OCC and district meets," Fox said. "Our 400 and 1,600 relays were disqualified in the OCC meet and our 3,200 relay was disqualified at district, but our ability to score well across the board in the other events was impressive in those meets.
"We're losing a good group of seniors, but the majority of the team is coming back, so we should be even more competitive next year."
Jaguars moved up in OCC-Cardinal
Bradley did not have any Division I state qualifiers but expects to return five regional competitors.
The 1,600 relay of junior Demias Heard, senior Daniel Tepe, junior Ben Goebel and senior Matthew Johnson was the top finisher for the Jaguars, placing sixth in a program-record 3:21.05.
Also competing at regional were senior Eric McCabe in the 3,200 (eighth, 9:25.43), junior Kyle Stebner in the 110 hurdles (10th, 15.33), Johnson in the 400 (10th, 51.24), sophomore Trey Anderson in the 100 (16th, 11.76), the 800 relay of Tepe, Heard, Johnson and senior Tommy Horn (disqualified) and the 400 relay of Tepe, Horn, junior Aaron Scales and Heard (did not finish).
The Jaguars tied for 31st (4) at regional.
Bradley finished fourth (65.5) in the 17-team district 2 meet behind champion Watkins Memorial (108). Winning district titles were Anderson in the 100 (program-record 10.85) and the 800 relay of Tepe, Heard, Johnson and Anderson (program-record 1:28.96).
Also setting program records at district were Stebner in the 110 hurdles (second, 15.25) and Johnson in the 400 (fourth, 48.87).
Winning OCC-Cardinal titles were McCabe in the 3,200 (9:27.31), Johnson in the 400 (50.05) and the 800 relay of Tepe, Horn, senior Ross Hanson and Johnson (1:31.06).
"We had a great season," coach Ben Gadfield said. "The regional meet didn't go as planned, but a lot of our kids earned honors in the conference and district meets. We finished third in the OCC meet, which was a huge step in the right direction after we finished sixth there last year.
"We're losing a lot of talent, but I feel like we have a lot of good athletes coming back who will help us continue to make progress in the future."