None of the three members of the Watkins Memorial High School track and field program who competed in the Division I state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State scored, but each finished better than his or her seed.
Competing at state for the boys team were seniors Ethan George and Nic Eader. George was seeded 12th in the 300-meter hurdles and placed ninth in 39.96 seconds and Eader was seeded 16th in the shot put and finished 14th in 50 feet, 2 3/4 inches.
The top eight finishers in each event scored.
"This was the best team we've had," said boys coach Marty Dahlman, who completed his 36th season leading the team. "I've only had four other senior classes like this one, with the special dedication and commitment. They led us to our best record ever. We were 111-3-1 through the (16-team) district (2 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby).
"Ethan was the hardest worker on the team and getting to state was his well-deserved reward. Nic responded to the adversity of his (throws) coach and friend (Charlie Watkins) dying (unexpectedly May 26) by getting to perform on the big stage. He handled it very well and it was a great way for us to end the season."
The girls team was represented at state by sophomore Josie Woosley, who was seeded 13th and finished 11th in the 1,600 in 5:14.9.
"We got someone to state, which is always our goal," girls coach Nathan Corum said. "It was a great way to end a great season, one in which we grew and learned and gained good regional experience. The majority of our contributors were freshmen and sophomores, so the future is exciting."
In the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, George placed third in the 300 hurdles (39.47), Eader finished fourth in the shot put (51-8) and Woosley finished fourth in the 1,600 (5:09.36).
The top four finishers in each regional event qualified for state.
The boys team scored 23.5 points at regional to finish 11th behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
In addition to Eader and George, competing at regional were junior Hunter Holton in the high jump (tied for fifth, 6-4) and 110 hurdles (eighth, 15.75), sophomore Chance Abbitt in the 400 (sixth, 49.84), junior Donovan Garrison in the 100 (eighth, 11.31) and 200 (10th, 23.14), the 1,600 relay of Abbitt, senior Vinny Anderson, senior Connor Severino and George (fifth, program-record 3:22.32), freshman Desmond Melson in the 400 (ninth, 52.17), junior Brandon Oney in the pole vault (10th, 13-0), the 400 relay of freshman Evan Caniff, sophomore Tyler Culpepper, Holton and Garrison (10th, 44.29), junior Jerrod Lyon in the long jump (11th, 20-6 1/2), senior Mike McKean in the 3,200 (11th, 9:44.84), senior Jacob Sanders in the shot put (12th, 46-4), the 800 relay of Severino, Anderson, Lyon and Abbitt (13th, 1:34.96), the 3,200 relay of McKean, junior Austin Dowis, senior Luke Gamertsfelder and junior Owen Tennant (15th, 8:51.85) and freshman Kyle Ellinger in the pole vault (no height).
Watkins Memorial shared the district 2 title with Hilliard Davidson, as both scored 140 points in the 16-team meet, with Gahanna (106) placing third.
The Warriors also had a strong showing in the OCC-Capital Division meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley, finishing second (173) behind New Albany (182) and ahead of Big Walnut (81), Olentangy (69), Delaware (52.5), Olentangy Orange (41.5), Mount Vernon (37) and Franklin Heights (25).
"We won our first Division I district championship and we were nine points shy of New Albany in the (OCC-Capital) meet," Dahlman said. "It was just a tremendous season."
Watkins Memorial, which loses seven seniors, moves into the Licking County League next season.
"It's going to be strange the first time we hit the track next season without those seniors," Dahlman said.
"We won six invitationals and were runners-up at another. ... We're going to miss those guys as athletes, leaders and individuals. We need to work on replacing points in distance and in throws and finding a throws coach. Charlie was a great developmental coach, so replacing him may be the biggest problem.
"But we have a ton of talent (coming) back as we head to the LCL and look forward to the challenge Granville and others will present.
"We have everyone back in jumps, pole vault and sprint relays. They should all get stronger."
The girls team scored nine points at regional to finish 23rd behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
In addition to Woosley, competing at regional were senior Stephanie Robb in the 800 (sixth, 2:16.53), the 800 relay of sophomore McKenzie Biniker, sophomore Monica Tumblin, freshman Rachel Lawwell and Robb (eighth, 1:46.26), sophomore Kara Robinson in the 100 hurdles (10th, 16.25) and freshman Sammi Miller in the pole vault (13th, 9-0).
Watkins Memorial, which loses three seniors, finished fifth (64) in the 16-team district 3 meet, behind Dublin Coffman (141), New Albany (86), Upper Arlington (85) and Westerville Central (66), and placed third (109.5) in the league meet, behind New Albany (153) and Big Walnut (124.5) and ahead Orange (79.5), Olentangy (70.5), Franklin Heights (50), Mount Vernon (46) and Delaware (27).
"I was very pleased with the season," Corum said. "I was happy that Stephanie Robb had a good senior season. The young girls stepped up and improved and several of them gained valuable regional experience.
"We had a big freshman and sophomore class with talent and hopefully we'll keep bringing classes like those in behind them."