Athleticism may make up for the lack of numbers for the Northridge High School boys and girls track and field teams.
The Vikings have 24 boys and 16 girls participating under second-year coach Jeff Dingess, who said several new faces may help make the teams more competitive.
"We have some good athletes out this season, but many of them are first-time track performers," said Dingess, whose boys team defeated East Knox 78-45 in a season-opening dual April 1, while the girls beat the Bulldogs 71-42. "My concern is for them getting ready to compete ... learning how to warm up to prepare to run, jump or throw and having them get mentally prepared."
Despite the low numbers, the girls team returns two regional qualifiers in senior Hayley Menix and junior Ellie Shedloski. In last year's Division II regional in Dayton, Menix was sixth in the high jump (5 feet, 1 inch) and Shedloski was ninth in the long jump (16-5 3/4) as the top four in each event advanced to state.
The duo also competed in the 800-meter relay that finished 10th (1 minute, 49.43 seconds) at regional with 2013 graduates Hannah Shank and Caitlyn Tulloss.
Menix tuned up for this season by competing in three events in the Divisions II-III state indoor meet March 8 at the University of Akron. She finished fourth in the long jump (17-2), tied for sixth in the high jump (5-0) and placed eighth in the triple jump (31-1 1/2).
"The field events are definitely a strength for the girls," said Dingess, whose teams' original opening meet with Liberty Union and Madison Plains on March 29 was canceled because of bad weather. "We have depth in the long jump and high jump and (junior) Belinda Marcum, (senior) Christa Patton and (senior) Jana Choberka are throwing well."
Senior Summer Prevost is out for her first season. Juniors Ana Carpenter (hurdles, sprints) and Cortney Schneider (jumps, hurdles) and sophomore Jillian Choberka (sprints, jumps) return.
Newcomers include junior Hannah Young (distance) and sophomores Josie Bunstine (hurdles, sprints), Megan Dalton (sprints, middle distance), Kendra Garee (hurdles, sprints) and Mary Nguyen (sprints). Also on the team are freshmen Sydney Menix (jumps, hurdles) and Kendall Wolfe (throws).
The boys team has seven returnees -- all sophomores -- in Adam Eckstein (throws, middle distance), Colin Evans (hurdles, jumps, distance), Logan Parker (throws), Sam Shultz (throws), Zach Smith (middle distance), Noah Tornes (middle distance) and Zach Weaver (throws).
"We have six more boys than we did last year, but we have a young, inexperienced group," Dingess said. "Our experienced boys are only sophomores, so we still have to work to get meet-ready."
The boys have three first-year seniors in Zach Hossler (throws, sprints, middle distance), Matt Hudkins (sprints) and Ryan Strong (distance). The junior class consists of Chad Campbell (jumps, sprints), Camden Chapman (sprints, hurdles), Jacob Phillips (distance, discus), Mat Scott (distance) and Evan Wilkoski (jumps, sprints).
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Kylor Kuahui (sprints, jumps), Skyler Pritts (distance, throws) and Robi Patrick (sprints) and freshmen Gunner Absten (jumps, sprints), Hunter Corbin (hurdles, sprints, jumps), Logan Garee (sprints), Johnny Feightner (middle distance, distance), Isaac Marinchek (middle distance, distance) and Trevor Roach (throws, sprints).
Softball team splits first two LCL games
The softball team's home game against Granville on April 3 was postponed because of bad weather and will be made up Tuesday, April 8. Northridge won two of its first three games and is 1-1 in the LCL.
The Vikings opened with a 7-4 league loss to visiting Johns-town-Monroe on March 31.
Northridge fell behind 7-0 after four innings.
"I think we had some butterflies in the first few innings because it was our opener," said coach Michael Pankuch, whose team played Westerville South on April 5. "We're not the kind of team who plays well from behind, so it's important for us to start strong."
Megan Hatfield had three singles with one RBI and Courtney Mann had two singles. Hunter Adkins doubled and Mikaela Pankuch added a two-run single.
On April 1, the Vikings defeated Millersport 11-1 in six innings as Tori Hart struck out 10 in five innings.
The Vikings defeated Utica 4-1 in a league game April 2 as Hatfield and Mann both had solo home runs. Mikaela Pankuch struck out six with one walk in five innings.
Rally falls short in baseball opener
The baseball team was 1-1 overall and in the LCL before playing Granville on April 4.
The Vikings opened with a 4-3 loss to visiting Johnstown on March 31. Northridge trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, and left the bases loaded.
Daniel McNamara had an RBI double.
"The kids are a little disappointed because they felt like they should have won (the opener)," said coach Jeff Wilson, whose team played a doubleheader against Central Crossing on April 5.
"Sometimes you need a little humility early in the season to head in the right direction."
Brad Wilson and Trent Baughman both had home runs as the Vikings defeated Utica 9-7 on April 1.