Approximately 90 minutes after sophomore Karrington Winters of the New Albany High School girls track and field team won her second consecutive Division I state title in the 400 meters June 8 at Ohio State, Solon won the team championship despite having just eight athletes competing and winning only one event.
Eagles coach Otis Winston immediately thought "Why not us?"
"There's a lot of hunger on this team, partly because they've seen what Karrington is capable of doing," Winston said. "The word is out that we can do this, just like Solon did. It's not like you need a lot of girls in order to be a great team. We're ready to do the unthinkable."
Winters won the 400 in 53.59 seconds, finishing 1.17 seconds ahead of second-place Stephanie Ferrante of Chardon, and placed fifth in the 100 (12.31).
Senior Cynthia Cox also competed at state, finishing 15th in the 200 (26.19), as New Albany scored 14 points to tie OCC-Capital Division rival Olentangy for 16th behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
Despite losing eight seniors, including Cox, the Eagles expect to return most of their primary contributors, including Winters and four other regional qualifiers in individual events in junior Dena White (high jump, sprints), sophomores Eliza Matt (distance) and Kelly Probst (long jump) and freshman Donissa Edmonds (sprints).
In the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, Winters won the 400 (55.65) and placed second in the 100 (12.12) and Cox placed fourth in the 200 (25.99), as New Albany scored 34 points to place sixth behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
Also competing were Matt in the 1,600 (fifth, 5:13.3), Cox in the 200 (sixth, 26.31), Edmonds in the 200 (10th, 27.04), White in the high jump (sixth, 5 feet, 2 inches), Probst in the long jump (14th, 15-3), the 400 relay of Cox, junior Alex Dunn, Edmonds and freshman Haley Lyles (seventh, 50.2), the 1,600 relay of sophomore Debi Bhanja, Dunn, Simpson and Winters (seventh, 3:59.87) and the 3,200 relay of juniors Catherine Ralston and Lexi Simpson, Matt and freshman Charlotte Matt (ninth, 9:58.04).
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
New Albany placed second (86) in the 16-team district 3 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, behind champion Dublin Coffman (141).
Winning district titles were Winters in the 100 hurdles (12.01) and 400 (57.48) and Eliza Matt in the 1,600 (5:12.79).
The Eagles won the OCC-Capital meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley, scoring 153 points to finish ahead of Big Walnut (124.5), Watkins Memorial (109.5), Olentangy Orange (79.5), Olentangy (50.5), Franklin Heights (50), Mount Vernon (46) and Delaware (27).
Winning league titles were Winters in the 100 (12.37), 200 (league-record 24.58) and 400 (59.76) and the 3,200 (9:43.9), 800 (1:43.92) and 400 (50.33) relays.
"We really have a very, very, very young team, and next year we believe we can be dangerous," Winston said. "I'm almost afraid to see what we can do."
Frye, Lee, Watson among losses for boys
The boys team loses 22 seniors, approximately half of whom were varsity contributors this season.
Headlining that list is Alex Frye, who was a two-time state qualifier in the high jump.
Frye, who has committed to Dartmouth College, owns program records in the 100 hurdles (14.26), 300 hurdles (38.85) and long jump (6-10) and had two third-place finishes at state. He cleared 6-8 at state this year and 6-6 last year.
Frye also advanced to state in both hurdles events. He made the final in the 100 hurdles but did not compete, choosing to focus on the high jump, and finished 13th in the 300 hurdles (40.09).
"Alex truly left his mark," coach Chad Olinger said. "You look at those records, and I think they'll be truly difficult to beat. I have no doubt his best days are ahead of him."
Also at state, the 400 relay of seniors Darron Lee and Alan Watson and juniors Wyatt Johnson and O.B. Oppong placed fourth (42.08), as New Albany scored 11 points to tie three other teams for 17th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
Lee is an Ohio State football signee and Watson will play football at Columbia University.
At regional, Frye placed third in the high jump (6-6) and 110 hurdles (14.51) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (39.57) and the 400 relay placed second (42.67), as the Eagles finished sixth (38) behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Also competing at regional were Lee in the 100 (seventh, 11.3), Watson in the 200 (seventh, 22.75), sophomore Zack Buck in the 1,600 (12th, 4:40.92), sophomore Dennis Maloney in the 3,200 (13th, 9:57.58), the 800 relay of Lee, Oppong, Watson and senior Emmanuel Owusu-Antwi (fifth, 1:28.48) and the 3,200 relay of seniors Erik Furterer and C.J. Stringer, Buck and sophomore Ben Iten (sixth, 8:09.24).
New Albany finished second (101.5) in the 16-team district 3 meet behind Granville (117).
Winning district titles were Frye in the 110 hurdles (14.26) and high jump (6-6), the 400 relay (42.76) and the 3,200 relay (8:05.63).
The Eagles won the OCC-Capital meet, scoring 182 points to finish ahead of Watkins Memorial (173), Big Walnut (81), Olentangy (69), Delaware (52.5), Olentangy (41.5), Mount Vernon (37) and Franklin Heights (25).
Winning league titles were Frye in the high jump (6-10), 100 hurdles (14.75) and 300 hurdles (39.09), Lee in the 100 (11.16), Buck in the 1,600 (4:28.36), Watson in the 200 (22.29), Maloney in the 3,200 (9:49.39), senior C.J. Stringer in the 800 (2:00.69), the 3,200 relay (8:08.16), the 800 relay (1:29.17) and the 400 relay (league-record 43.04).
Olinger hopes the stiff competition his team faced this year keys a return to state in 2014.
"I think central Ohio is the best region in the state and these guys saw that first-hand," Olinger said. "I have several guys I'll be able to plug into different spots next year and that'll make us even deeper."