Coach Tim O'Cain knows his Licking Heights High School boys track and field team is just biding its time until the weather warms.
"Our sprinters don't really like weather like this," he said after the Hornets finished second (108) behind Columbus Academy (122) in the 11-team Bloom-Carroll Invitational on April 20. "They're just getting their work in and trying to be consistent and not worry about times at this point. When the weather breaks, the times will get better and we all know that."
Senior Mychal Suggs, junior Jared Richardson and sophomores Kendall Bradley, Devon Eubanks, Matt Gebre-medhin and Curtis Richardson combined to win three relays and sophomore A.J. Velasquez was first in the discus and second in the shot put at Bloom-Carroll.
Gebremedhin was the meet's running events MVP. He won the 400 meters (51.9 seconds), was third in the 800 (2:07.5) and was a member of the winning 800 and 1,600 relays. The 1,600 relay of Suggs, Gebremedhin, Jared Richardson and Eubanks won in 3:37.4 and the 800 relay of Gebremedhin, Eubanks, Suggs and Bradley won in 1:35.4.
The 400 relay of Suggs, Eubanks, Curtis Richardson and Bradley won in 46.3.
"Gebremedhin is really scoring well for us lately and running well in all of his events," O'Cain said. "(Senior) Josh Ausberry usually is in that group, too, but we had to switch some things up at Bloom-Carroll. They've all conditioned well and are working on things as a group, which is what they have to do to have success. They've done well polishing their exchanges, which is why they're having success even in this cold."
Velasquez was the meet's field events MVP with efforts of 128 feet, 8 inches in the discus and 41-8 1/2 in the shot put.
"He has really progressed and his body matured noticeably from last season," O'Cain said. "He's got his parents and some other coaches helping him and he works with his sister (Kayla), who is competing at Bowling Green. There's just a huge difference in him this year from last year."
Curtis Richardson won the long jump (19-2), Bradley was second in the 100 (11.4) and Eubanks was fourth in the 400 (24.3).
"We've always been strong in sprints and sprint relays, but getting points elsewhere, like what Curtis is giving us in the long jump, is a blessing," O'Cain said. "He's been in the 19- to 20-foot range consistently. Bradley also is doing well in sprints along with Ausberry. I'm getting a pretty good feeling for what these guys can do in the postseason."
The girls team scored 99 points to tie the host Bulldogs for second behind Academy (110).
Junior Skyler Ortiz was the running events MVP after winning the 100 hurdles (16.5) and competing on the winning 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
"Skyler is one of our leaders," coach Zach Grubb said. "We've got seven or eight girls who score well for us, but we lack the depth to score double points. We do well in a lot of events, but just don't have enough bodies to get two scores in a lot of those events."
Included in the core group are senior PyLynne Myers, juniors Cameron Bryant, Alexis Sanidad and Justice Stegall, sophomore Angel Allen and freshmen Makayla Scott and Mykayla Suggs.
Ortiz anchored the 800 relay (1:53.6) behind Suggs, Sanidad and Stegall and the 400 relay (53.4) behind Suggs, Sanidad and Myers.
The 1,600 relay (4:23.5) consisted of Bryant, Ortiz, Myers and Sanidad.
Allen won the discus (85-3) and was fifth in the shot put (26-1/2). Stegall was runner-up in the high jump (5-2) and 300 hurdles (53.9). Myers was fourth in the 800 (2:40.9) and the 3,200 relay of Bryant, Stegall, senior Briana Konich and Myers was second (11:03.4).
"Ortiz, Myers, Sanidad, Suggs and Allen have all stepped up, Bryant is doing fine coming back from injury and Stegall is giving us help in the hurdles, too," Grubb said. "Makayla Scott gave us sixth-place points in the 100 and 200, so she's beginning to step up, too, after coming back from an injury.
"Because we lack the depth to score lots of team points, we just want to hold our own in the (MSL-Cardinal Division) meet and then work at getting the relays and more to the regional."
Baseball team making league title push
The bid for a third consecutive MSL-Cardinal championship got busy recently for the baseball team.
The Hornets were scheduled to play five league games last week. They defeated Harvest Prep 29-0 on April 22 and West Jefferson 8-6 on April 23 in a makeup from April 12. A game at Grandview on April 24 was postponed and rescheduled for Thursday, May 2.
Licking Heights was 12-3 overall and 6-2 in the league after losing to Fisher Catholic 9-6 on April 25 and playing league-leading Liberty Union on April 26. The Hornets' lone league loss before April 25 was to Liberty Union 5-3 on April 10.
Against Harvest Prep, the Hornets did everything they could to take it easy on the Warriors. In the first round of league play, the Hornets won 65-0 in three innings in a game that made national headlines, as coach Jeff Boyer wanted to have his team make intentional outs to not embarrass the Warriors. However, umpires warned him not to make a travesty of the game when he offered to have his players make outs by stepping on the plate to bunt.
This time, the Hornets used wooden bats and batted with their opposite hands after the first inning. In both games the Hornets did not take extra bases on passed balls, wild pitches or even hits to the fence.
"We played station to station both games against them because we didn't want to run it up," Boyer said. "I'm embarrassed it made national headlines and I've gotten phone calls from all across the nation -- California, Indiana, Florida, you name it. I've been around the game a long time and this is not something I want to be remembered for. But we did everything we could do to not run it up.
"The other thing people don't understand is that the first time we played them was our fourth game and it was their first time outdoors. They hadn't had a scrimmage or anything and they only had 10 kids. They had 14 the second time around and they had improved. We've scored in the 40s against them in the past, as has Liberty Union and many other teams."
According to Boyer, Harvest Prep has been run-ruled in every game, including at the junior high level.
"I think what's disappointing about all of this is that it's easy for talk-show hosts and reporters to sit behind a computer or in a booth and say whatever they want to say, but they weren't here to see that we tried our best to not embarrass anyone," he said. "We've got respect for the game and if it wasn't a league game, they wouldn't be on our schedule."
Softball team also aims for league title
The softball team also has remained in the hunt for an MSL-Cardinal title.
The Hornets were 14-3 overall and 6-2 in the league after defeating Fisher Catholic 9-4 on April 25 and playing league-leading Liberty Union on April 26. The Hornets' league losses were to Liberty Union 14-3 on April 10 and to West Jefferson 6-3 on April 23.