With a two-time Division I state champion and four other regional meet individual qualifiers returning, New Albany High School girls track and field coach Otis Winston is confident the Eagles will back up his high expectations for this season.
"We're going to make some noise," said Winston, who is in his seventh season. "We are very, very excited about this program. How can you not be excited with an athlete like Karrington Winters? She's won two state titles (in the 400 meters) and I think this could be her best season. You have Dena White, who's getting better in the high jump. Our distance (corps) is deep. We have great throwers."
Winters, a junior, also is a two-time state indoor 400 champion. She won in 55.81 seconds March 8 at the University of Akron, 2.22 seconds shy of her outdoor championship time last year.
Other returning individual regional qualifiers are seniors Eliza Matt (1,600) and White (high jump), junior Kelly Probst (high jump) and sophomore Donissa Edmonds (200). Senior Alex Dunn and sophomore Haley Lyles were on the qualifying 400 relay; Dunn, senior Lexi Simpson, junior Debi Bhanja and Winters were on the 1,600 relay; and the qualifying 3,200 relay returns senior Catherine Ralston, sophomore Charlotte Matt, Eliza Matt and Simpson.
"This is an extremely talented group," Winston said. "We have so many options for our relays, and as far as the individual events, we're deep. And it's not just the upperclassmen. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores waiting to make contributions."
According to Winston, other top contributors will include junior Julia Rothstein (hurdles, sprints), sophomore Marinda Scott (high jump) and freshman Jessica Zaper (distance).
In the Eagles' opening 69-68 win April 1 at Watkins Memorial, Winters won the 100 (11.6) and 200 (24.7). Senior Shira Katz won the discus (82 feet, 8 inches), White won the long jump (15-5 1/2), Eliza Matt won the 3,200 (12:55) and all four relays earned victories.
On April 5 at Hilliard Davidson's Wildcat Premier, White was second in the high jump (5-0) and third in the long jump (14-9) to lead New Albany to fourth place (71.5) behind champion Gahanna (147) as 16 teams scored. Eliza Matt was third in the 3,200 (12:02.47) and helped the 3,200 relay to second place (10:03.19).
New boys track coach expects team to reload
First-year boys track coach Crickett Anderson admits the Eagles will spend the early part of the season reloading after losing 22 athletes to graduation, including two-time state qualifier Alex Frye.
"Our team is young and talented," Anderson said. "I'm excited about them. We just want to keep getting faster, stronger and better."
Seniors Wyatt Johnston and O.B. Oppong return from the 400 relay that placed fourth at state (42.08). Returning regional qualifiers are juniors Zack Buck (1,600 and 3,200 relay), Ben Iten (3,200 relay) and Dennis Maloney (3,200).
Oppong also was on the 800 relay that made regional. Buck was OCC-Capital Division champion in the 1,600, and Maloney won the 3,200 league title.
Frye, who now competes at Dartmouth College, was third at state in the high jump (6-8) last year and 13th and the 300 hurdles (40.09), and was a district champion in the high jump and 110 hurdles. He also owns program records in the 100 hurdles (14.26), 300 hurdles (38.85) and high jump (6-10).
In an opening 110-27 loss at Watkins Memorial, senior Daniel Plescia won the shot put (41-1) and discus (132-5), junior Ben Iten won the 1,600 (4:49) and Maloney won the 3,200 (10:05.7).
Plescia followed that up with wins in the shot put (39-5) and discus (131-5 1/2) in the Wildcat Premier. The 3,200 relay was first (8:15.91) and Maloney was fourth in the 3,200 (9:49.94) as New Albany finished 12th (29) of 16 teams behind champion Davidson (117).
According to Anderson, other top contributors include seniors Leslie Anokye (sprints), Chris Ryan (distance), Lewis Smoot (throws) and Sotaro Onishi (hurdles), juniors Xzavier Brandon (throws), Drew Davidson (pole vault), Brian Krugh (distance) and Alex Quillin (distance), sophomores Eric Klopfenstein (long jump) and Chris Weineke (distance) and freshmen Carson Barnes (hurdles), Max Frye (hurdles, sprints) and Victor White (sprints).
Anderson replaced Chad Olinger, who resigned after five seasons but said he will continue to coach the boys cross country team.
A Dayton Stivers-Patterson graduate who ran at Grambling State, Anderson has coached in New Albany's track program at the middle school and high school levels for 14 years. She also was New Albany Middle School athletics director for three years and currently is cross country coach at Tree of Life.
Boys tennis coach has high expectations
Second-year boys tennis coach Marc Thomas hopes a season that is beginning like none other he can recall ends with the Eagles ruling the figurative roost.
All but two players return from last year, and competitive tryouts have prevented Thomas from settling on a lineup in a year in which New Albany will play its home matches at Gahanna because of construction at the high school.
"We have had some long days. Everything has been very time-consuming," said Thomas, whose team opened April 5 in an eight-team tournament at Lakewood St. Edward. "Usually we don't know the lineup for a while, but this might be the deepest team I've ever seen. The only problem with all the challenge matches is the guys beat each other up. But we will compete for a state title -- I'm sure of that. There are a lot of quality teams in Ohio, and we'll see a lot of them, and as the season progresses I hope we'll be right there among those teams."
Because challenge matches were ongoing through last week, Thomas was noncommittal as to his lineup but said seniors Steven Miller and Durga Samanthula, juniors Nick Blair, C.J. Cash and Alex Kobelt, sophomore Bhargava Samanthula and freshman Graeme Greene had the inside track for varsity spots.
Last year, Blair and Kobelt finished third in the Division I district tournament in doubles and went 1-1 at state.
"Where they'll fit, I have no idea," Thomas said. "And we could have more guys coming up. I think it's a certainty that we will. I'll keep tinkering."
Miller, who missed the 2013 season with a shoulder injury, was a Division I state qualifier in 2011. He went 0-1 in singles play.
Cash and Durga Samanthula also saw regular time last year as New Albany went 14-4 overall and 7-0 in the OCC-Capital, earning the maximum 82 points in league play. Sophomore Harrison Lippy defeated Samanthula in a challenge match to earn a spot in the postseason lineup.
New Albany has 28 players in its program.
"That's the most we've had since I've been here," Thomas said. "We have a huge freshman class. We'll probably be hearing from those guys soon."