Licking Heights High School junior Bryan Justice represented the boys track and field team in the Division I state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Justice became the program's first state qualifier in Division I by tying for second in the pole vault during the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North.
His regional mark of 14 feet tied Triston Richardson of Olentangy Orange behind champion Charlie Moushey (15-0) of Westerville Central. The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
Eight of the 16 state qualifiers had better regional efforts than Justice, whose personal record is 15-0 set when he won the event in the district 1 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby.
"Getting someone to state to represent our school is a great accomplishment," coach Tim O'Cain said. "Bryan didn't jump his best (at regional), but it was good enough and hopefully he saved his best for state."
The Hornets scored 10 points at regional to finish 20th behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Joining Justice at regional was sophomore Matt Gebremedhin, who finished sixth in the 800 meters (1 minute, 55.63 seconds).
Girls track team takes next step
The girls track team showed progress all season, according to coach Zach Grubb.
"We've got a way to go yet, but we improved in our approach and competitiveness in our second season in Division I," Grubb said. "It might take some time to adjust, but the girls seemed more comfortable in this atmosphere this year. We've been growing so fast as a school that we more or less outgrew our league and we're not used to seeing the tougher competition we see in the district.
"But we took some steps and we've got to continue to do that since we'll be in a very competitive Licking County League next year. I think that will help us prepare for the postseason."
The season ended at regional when junior Skyler Ortiz placed 12th in the 100 hurdles (16.46).
"Making it to regional was a good step for her and I think she'll improve and be even better in the postseason next year," Grubb said. "She has some real talent and I know she'll push herself even harder next year."
Ortiz was the lone regional qualifier for the Hornets, who were not among the 39 teams that scored behind co-champions Pickerington Central and Gahanna (55).
Ortiz finished fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.66) in the district 1 meet.
Also at district, junior Cameron Bryant was sixth in the 400 (1:00.86) and the 1,600 relay of Bryant, junior Alexis Sanidad, senior PyLynne Myers and junior Justice Stegall was eighth (4:13.44).
The Hornets finished 15th (9) of 17 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (90).
In the home MSL-Cardinal Division meet May 14 and 17, Ortiz won the 100 (13.03), 200 (27.27), 100 hurdles (15.74) and 300 hurdles (48.41) to be selected the league's Athlete of the Year.
Licking Heights finished second (138.5) behind Grandview (180) and ahead of Liberty Union (89), Fisher Catholic (64.5), Berne Union (62), Millersport (54), West Jefferson (42) and Harvest Prep (14).
Other individual winners were Bryant in the 400 (1:00.61) and Sanidad in the long jump (16-2 1/4).
Also winning were the 400 relay (51.88) of freshman Mykala Suggs, Sanidad, sophomore Adrianna Lewis and freshman Mykayla Scott and the 1,600 relay (4:11.83) of Bryant, Sanidad, Myers and Stegall.
The 800 relay of Suggs, Sanidad, Stegall and Myers was second (1:52.5), as was the 3,200 relay (10:33) of Bryant, Stegall, sophomore Jessica Brungs and Myers.
The Hornets lose two seniors in Briana Konich and Myers.
"We should have a lot of girls coming back who have the ability to improve and help the program try to reach the next level as we transition to the new league," Grubb said.