Marysville High School track and field coach J.B. Ritchie wanted the members of the boys 3,200-meter relay to not only focus on their race in the Division I state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, but soak in the atmosphere.
According to Ritchie, both goals were accomplished.
The relay of senior Clay Cochran, junior Nick Williams, senior Jordan Bollmann and senior Josh Brady placed eighth in a program-record 7 minutes, 57.28 seconds to secure the final spot on the awards podium.
Marysville was seeded 15th of 16 teams in the event, which took place on the first day of the meet and was won by Westerville North (7:42.47).
"Not only were (the members of the relay) extraordinarily successful in their endeavors, but they had an enormous amount of fun," Ritchie said. "Not only (was) the (3,200 relay) so successful, but we had about nine teammates who came down and watched everything. That's why it was great for the program, because all those kids now saw not only what the state meet looks like, but what success looks like at the meet."
Marysville's previous record in the 3,200 relay was 8:03.25, which was set in the regional meet held May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North.
The Monarchs, who did not have any other state qualifiers, scored one point at state to tie five other teams, including Olentangy Liberty, for 57th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
At regional, the 3,200 relay placed third, Williams placed seventh in the 800 (program-record 1:55.73) and freshman Hunter Harding finished 14th in the discus (119 feet, 5 inches), as Marysville scored eight points to tie Dublin Scioto for 21st behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
In the 15-team district 1 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, Marysville tied Olentangy for eighth (32) behind champion Pickerington North (159.5).
The 3,200 relay (8:06.16), Harding in the discus (132-4) and Williams in the 800 (1:56.13) all placed fourth to secure the final regional-qualifying berth in their respective events.
Marysville finished sixth (53) in the OCC-Central Division meet May 16 and 18, behind Hilliard Davidson (204.5), Liberty (127), host Thomas Worthington (75), Dublin Coffman (72.5) and Upper Arlington (61) and ahead of Westland (31) and Central Crossing (28).
Cochran won the 800 (1:58) and the 1,600 relay of Cochran, Williams, Bollmann and sophomore Jesse Ramirez placed second (3:28.4).
The Monarchs lose 11 seniors, including Bollman, Brady and Cochran. Among the key athletes expected to return are Williams, juniors Tyler Catipon and Chris Lyons, sophomore Joe Weingates and freshman Josh McPheron.
"(The seniors) were incredibly good," Ritchie said. "They just put their heads down and went to work. They never questioned anything, which was great. That senior class is irreplaceable and the kids who are coming back next year have enormous shoes to fill. I'm confident that they can do that."
The girls team did not have any regional qualifiers.
Marysville finished 16th (6.5) in the 17-team district 1 meet behind champion Davidson (90).
Placing sixth were senior Jessica Wickline in the discus (95-1) and sophomore Monica Miller in the shot put (34-8).
The Monarchs finished seventh (36) in the OCC-Central meet, behind Davidson (141.5), Coffman (140), Liberty (110), UA (97), Thomas (79.5) and Central Crossing (49) and ahead of Westland (9).
Junior Camelia Kiss placed second in the high jump (5-2). Placing third were junior Mim Stonecipher in the pole vault (9-0) and Wickline in the discus (107-5).
The Monarchs lose four seniors, including Wickline. The expected key returnees include Miller, juniors Hannah Burns, Mackenzie Edgar, Aly Heeb and Maddy Hoy and sophomores Rachel Murdock and Tracy Prinster.
"The seniors were incredibly good to work with," Ritchie said. "I have very high expectations for the girls next year and they do as well."
Tennis team finishes with winning record
The boys tennis team finished 10-9 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Central.
Marysville finished the league tournament May 11 with 33 points to place sixth in the overall standings, behind UA (81, 7-0), Coffman (63, 6-1), Davidson (63, 5-2), Liberty (42, 3-4) and Thomas (36, 3-4) and ahead of Central Crossing (12, 1-6) and Westland (0, 0-7).
The Monarchs competed in the Division I sectional tournament May 16 and 18 at Davidson. Senior Gavin Bushong defeated Darby's Sriharsha Ponna 6-1, 6-3 in the first round in singles and Big Walnut's Isaiah Kolb 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the second round to secure a district berth before losing to Coffman's Brian Do 7-5, 6-3 in a semifinal and Davidson's Thomas Porter 6-1, 6-0 in the consolation final.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at sectional advanced to the district tournament May 24 and 25 at Davidson, where Bushong lost to UA's Stu Little 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.
"It was a great season for us," coach Brian Ash said. "It was nice to see that success after the team put in so much time and effort. It was also great to see one of our singles players qualify for district."
Bushong was one of six seniors on the Monarchs' roster.
"(The seniors were) a group of hard working, yet easy going guys that obviously played a major role in making this past season successful," Ash said. "They'll definitely be missed next year."
Among those expected to return are sophomore Javan Bushong and the second doubles team of junior Hunter Cox and sophomore Devin Syar.
"It'll be great to have these guys back," Ash said. "We also have several guys that played mostly junior varsity this season who are ready to step it up and compete at a high level. We'll be working all summer, fall and winter to keep improving."