As freshmen at New Albany High School, Haley and Hannah Robertson opted to spend the spring season playing AAU basketball. It was an understandable choice given their potential in the sport.

As freshmen at New Albany High School, Haley and Hannah Robertson opted to spend the spring season playing AAU basketball. It was an understandable choice given their potential in the sport.

A year later, a coaching change helped convince them to take some time away from basketball and run track, and again it was easy to understand why.

Coach Otis Winston had been in the same situation as the Robertsons not long ago. A talented basketball player, Winston spent each spring on the track team at Toronto and eventually went on to compete in both sports at Ohio State after graduating high school in 1992.

"I understand what they mean and what they're trying to do and what they're trying to accomplish," Winston said.

When Winston, a former assistant, took over before last season, Haley and Hannah decided to give track a shot.

"We saw how great of a job he did with all the other girls (as an assistant), and everybody had so much fun," Hannah said.

"They said track was really fun. We came out last year without any expectations, just trying to have fun."

Still, Winston knew they both could contribute right away. Both ran track in middle school, and Hannah still owns the middle school program record in the high jump at 4 feet, 11 inches.

"I saw them in seventh and eighth grade, and I knew they could run," Winston said. "I knew they both could jump."

Last season, both were key members on the sprint relays, including the 400-meter relay and 800 relay that reached the Division I state meet. The 400 relay (49.49 seconds) and 800 relay (1:38.6) both were 13th.

Hannah was one of two New Albany athletes, along with graduate Rosie White, who reached state individually. Hannah finished 12th by clearing 5-2, although she had cleared 5-6 during the regular season.

This season as juniors, both are running on the 400 relay and 800 relay, and Hannah is running on the 1,600 relay. All three relays have been impressive, led by the 400 relay of Hannah, Haley, Mycah Mason and Maria Brown, which currently has the fastest time in the district (49.94).

Winston said he expects this to be a breakout year for Haley, who competed in the long jump last season but was overshadowed by White, now on the track team at Eastern Michigan. Haley set a personal-best of 16-7 at the Dublin Coffman Classic on April 18, but Winston said she and teammate Danielle Allen have jumped further than 17-0 during practice. At the district 3 meet last season, White was the only athlete in the field to surpass 17-0.

Haley credited some changes in her long jump technique to the improved results this season.

"It's helped a lot," she said. "I know I've improved a foot and a half already this year, just from working on technique and stuff. (The technique) is definitely improved."

Hannah is looking to clear 5-8, and Winston is hoping some technical changes will help her get there. Winston said he has focused on getting Hannah to continue lifting her lead knee during her jump. Although Hannah hasn't cleared 5-6 yet, Winston, the Division III state record-holder in the high jump, said Hannah has trusted him that the adjustments eventually will produce those results.

"You might jump a little lower right now, but when it clicks, it will click," Winston said. "And it will work."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the New Albany boys and girls track and field teams:

April 18 -- Boys: Finished fifth (55) in Dublin Coffman Classic behind behind champion Brunswick (123). Blake Taneff won the 3,200 (9:51.66); Girls: Finished eighth (37.5) behind champion Brunswick (85). New Albany won the 800 relay (1:45.98).

April 21 -- Boys: Defeated Olentangy Orange 97-40; Girls: Def. Orange 102-35

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished first (179.5) ahead of runner-up and host Hartley (113) in Joe Ramsey Invitational. Winners were Michael Burton in the 110 hurdles (14.88), Ross Watkins in the 100 (11.03), Taneff in the 1,600 (4:40.12), Drew Windle in the 800 (2:11.49), Sebastian Matt in the 3,200 (11:18.39), Collin Show in the high jump (6-0), Zach Galbreath in the long jump (20-0) and the 3,200 relay (8:29.24); Girls: Finished second (66) to Hartley (168). Winners were Maria Troutman in the 1,600 (5:38.32) and 3,200 (12:25.19), Leilani Worrell in the 800 (2:27.92), Sydney Curley in the high jump (4-10), Haley Robertson in the long jump (16-6) and the 3,200 relay (10:18.23).

Last Tuesday -- Competed against Franklin Heights

Friday -- Girls: At Dayton Roosevelt Memorial Meet

Tuesday -- Home vs. Big Walnut