After it qualified for the Division I state meet, Marys-ville High School track and field coach J.B. Ritchie compared the success of the boys team's 3,200-meter relay to playing with "house money" at a Las Vegas casino.
The Monarchs reached state when Ritchie believed they had nothing to lose.
"In a real world reference, it's like I'm in Vegas and I have a bunch of house money that I'm playing with as a coach," Ritchie said. "Half of me expected these kids to make it. I truly believe that they had a shot. Another half of me was thinking just pragmatically, 'We are in the most difficult region in the state,' and it's just nice to see it all come together with our kids just completely stepping it up."
The relay of seniors Clay Cochran, Jordan Bollmann and Josh Brady and junior Nick Williams earned a state berth by finishing third (8 minutes, 3.25 seconds) in the regional meet May 29 at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each event in the two-day regional meet, which concluded May 31, qualified for the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
The 3,200 relay competed June 7.
Sophomore Michael Coffey and freshman Josh McPheron were alternates on the relay.
"I've been looking forward to this for three years," said Cochran, who qualified for his first state meet. "It's always been my goal and I was really happy that we finally made it."
Williams, the anchor, took the baton with his team in sixth place but moved to third by the end.
Marysville tied Dublin Scioto for 21st (8 points) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
The Monarchs' other points came in the 800 as Williams finished seventh in a program-record 1:55.73.
"Nick ran a fantastic race," Ritchie said "He (set a personal record) again and he broke our school record again. You really can't ask for much more than that."
"It was everything I expected with the high level of competition," Williams said of the regional. "I looked at the (800) times for the state meet and who made it, and I have the eighth best time and I didn't even make it out of my region, so that shows how tough ours was."
Freshman Hunter Harding was 14th in the discus (119 feet, 5 inches).
The girls team did not have any regional qualifiers.
Baseball team closes successful season
The baseball team won 20 games for the first time since 1989 and captured its first district title since 1992.
The Monarchs finished 22-8 after losing to Gahanna 10-1 in a Division I regional semifinal May 30 at Dublin Coffman. Gahanna went on to win the regional title, advancing to the state tournament.
"In the end, you get one team that ends its season with a win and everyone else ends with a loss," coach John Carder said. "You never want to walk away with a loss, but when you get to this level you have to make sure we don't make mistakes to give good teams chances to win a ballgame because that's what will happen."
The Monarchs' last district title came in Division II when they defeated Briggs 6-5 for a championship in 1992.
Marysville hadn't played in a district final since 2003, when it lost to Upper Arlington 11-5 in Division I.
The Monarchs went 9-5 in the OCC-Central Division to tie Olentangy Liberty for second behind Thomas Worthington (11-3) and ahead of Coffman (8-6), UA (8-6), Hilliard Davidson (6-8), Central Crossing (5-9) and Westland (0-14).
After a first-round bye in the district tournament, 14th-seeded Marysville defeated 19th-seeded Westerville Central 3-0 in the second round May 15, 20th-seeded Westerville North 4-3 in a semifinal May 21 and third-seeded Watkins Memorial 7-2 in a final May 23 at Ohio Dominican University.
Junior third baseman Billy Kidd was first-team all-league and second-team all-district after hitting .398 with 29 runs, 22 RBI, 16 stolen bases and eight doubles.
Left fielder Kyle Hites, who was one of three seniors, was second-team all-league and honorable all-district after hitting .376 with 36 runs, 27 stolen bases, 14 RBI, nine doubles and six triples.
"We made history in baseball, winning a district title for the first time in over 20 years," Hites said. "There are definitely some good memories."
Junior center fielder/pitcher Matt Mulholland was second-team all-league after hitting .396 with 21 RBI and 16 runs.
Sophomore pitcher/infielder Aron Mowery also was second-team all-league. He was 9-3 with a 2.53 ERA, 58 strikeouts and 13 walks in 63 2/3 innings, and hit .320 with 15 RBI and 13 runs.
Mowery was the winning pitcher in all three of the team's postseason victories.
Senior shortstop Corey Gould was honorable mention all-league. He hit .313 with 26 RBI and 15 runs.
Junior catcher Nick Ciotola hit .303.
Others expected to return are juniors Noah Arbogast (1B/DH), Matt McCoy (OF), Jacob McNabb (P), Matt Reed (C), Sam Tse (OF) and Jarod Yoakam (1B), sophomores Desmond Johnson (OF) and Greg Laurenson (OF/P) and freshman Casey Gould (2B).
"The seniors were a great group of guys," Carder said. "We have three of them. Kyle, Corey and Jake (Allegree) have been a part of our program and they've provided us with a lot of wins. They're going to be tough to replace next year and they're a lot of the reason why we're here."