The Licking Heights High School boys track and field team was represented in the Division I state meet June 6 and 7 at Ohio State by junior Matt Gebremedhin and senior Bryan Justice.
Gebremedhin was making his first state appearance after finishing third in the 800 meters (1 minute, 53.53) in the regional that concluded May 30 at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
"Matt was on a mission this year to get further than he did last year," 16th-year coach Tim O'Cain said. "He went into the race with the idea of making it to Jesse Owens Stadium."
Gebremedhin reached the regional by winning a district 1 title in 1:55.18.
The last time the Hornets competed in two events at state was in 2006, according to O'Cain.
"The (800 and 1,600 relays) made it in 2006," he said. "The (800 relay) got seventh and the (1,600) got second (in Division II). It's great to see individuals make it this time and Bryan for the second straight year. It's the first time since I've been here we've had two individuals qualify for state."
Justice advanced to state by winning the regional title with an effort of 15 feet on May 28. He tied for sixth (14-6) at state last season as the first from the program to compete in the Division I state meet.
"He went into the event very confident that he could make it back to the state meet," O'Cain said. "He went in with a plan to work on certain heights and he was able to do so. Over the past year, Bryan has matured and grown into a confident, well-rounded athlete and individual."
Justice's personal record entering state was 15-6, but he hoped to get to 16-0.
"I know I can do it, and if that's what it takes to win the title then that's what I need to try to do," said Justice, who won the indoor state title (15-6) on March 8 at the University of Akron.
Also scoring at regional was junior Curtis Richardson in the high jump (seventh, 6-6), as the Hornets totaled 18 points to place 14th behind champion Pickerington North (74) as 37 teams scored.
Four athletes jumped 6-7 to finish behind Jermil Powell of Canal Winchester, who won at 6-8. A jump-off determined the last three state qualifiers.
"I have been very impressed with Curtis Richardson in the high jump and long jump, as well as his running development this season," O'Cain said. "We figured it would take a 6-7 to make it to state. ... The experience has made him hungrier for next season."
Also competing at regional were A.J. Velasquez in the shot put (15th, 46-8 3/4) and the 400 relay of Jared Richardson, Mershawn McMahan, Robbie Moore and Devon Eubanks (10th, 48.39). The 400 relay set a school record with a 44.43 at district.
Season ends for girls track team
The girls track team scored in two of the three regional events in which it competed, but was unable to advance to the state meet.
The 800 relay of seniors Alexis Sanidad, Skyler Ortiz and Camerone Bryant and freshman Chan'lier Mcbride was sixth in 1:44.09. Olentangy was fourth in 1:43.06 to take the final state berth.
"The time was a (season best) and I definitely went into (the finals) thinking that we had a shot to make it to the state meet," coach Zach Grubb said. "But we knew it would take everyone to run their very best to make that happen. Unfortunately, that was not what happened."
The 400 relay of sophomore Mykala Suggs, Sanidad, Ortiz and Mcbride was seventh in 49.7.
"They set a school record," Grubb said. "I believe that we were right where we needed to be in the race. However, we were not able to put everything together at the right time."
Suggs finished 13th in the 300 hurdles (49.29). The Hornets scored five points to finish 31st of 41 teams that scored as Pickerington Central (75) won.
"Suggs was dealing with an ankle injury on the day of the regional final, which hindered her from running one of her better times," Grubb said. "The future seems very promising for her with two more years remaining and she already set the school record multiple times this season."
Suggs ran a 47.21 to place fourth at district.