Three members of the DeSales High School boys track and field team's 400-meter relay swore junior Taz Collins was the key to their postseason success.
Collins, who replaced junior Sayyid Kanu on the relay last month after Kanu was sidelined with a hamstring injury, didn't agree with that assessment after teaming with seniors Breyon Bowman, Tristan Caldwell and LaShaun Sanders to place eighth in 43.3 seconds in the Division II state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
"Taz really came through," said Bowman, the relay's anchor. "It's his first year of running track. When Sayyid was hurt, Taz stepped in and fit right in. (Kanu) was supposed to be on the (400 relay). We put Taz in to experiment, and we found the right combination that worked."
Collins ran the lead leg.
"I just felt like if we put our mind to it, we could do it," he said. "Anything could happen. I didn't think I was the guy who made it work."
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary won the state title in the 400 relay (42.26). DeSales finished .16 of a second behind the fifth-place finisher, Chagrin Falls (43.14).
Also at state, the 800 relay of Bowman, Sanders, senior Tyler West and Caldwell finished 11th (1:30.97), as the Stallions scored one point to tie 10 teams for 63rd behind champion St. Vincent-St. Mary (49) as 73 teams scored.
"The (400 relay) wasn't the race that was supposed to make it (to the final)," Sanders said. "We thought we would go in the (800 relay). That was going to be our bread-and-butter race. We hoped we'd repeat in the (1,600 relay, which placed eighth at state last year), but the (400 relay) just sort of came out of nowhere. Things just took care of themselves, I guess."
Competing in the Division I meet for the girls team was the 800 relay, which finished 12th (1:45.12). The relay, which was comprised of seniors Leah Selmek and Sierra Mergliano and juniors Erin Kuisti and Ashli Pope, entered state with the second-slowest qualifying time (1:43.95) of the 16 teams.
"You know you're going in against some pretty hard times to beat, but we came together and I think we ran our hearts out today," Mergliano said. "The beginning of this year, since we've been together, we knew we could do this. Up to districts, we put our game face on and that was the beginning of our journey. We planned on being right here today and we knew we had the potential to make it. We're satisfied that we've made it this far."
The Stallions did not score as Solon (47) won the title and 74 teams scored.
Boys lacrosse team falls in state semifinal
The boys lacrosse team got out to a slow start in a Division II state semifinal June 5 at Wilmington College and its opponent took advantage.
The Stallions allowed four first-quarter goals on their way to a 16-9 loss to Cincinnati Mariemont and finished 11-5.
Mariemont, which went on to beat Rocky River 10-6 in the state final June 8 at Upper Arlington to finish 15-6, had a 4-0 lead 9 minutes, 22 seconds into the game. DeSales carried the play in the second quarter, scoring four unanswered goals, including two by senior attacker J.T. Blubaugh, to cut its deficit to 7-5 with 4:09 left in the first half.
However, Mariemont added a goal moments later for an 8-5 lead, and the Stallions would not get any closer.
"(Mariemont) took advantage of some unsettled situations early," coach Matt Triplet said. "They were whistle-ready and we got off to a slow start. We finally broke through some spots in their defense in the second quarter and got some things together."
Blubaugh, an Ohio State signee who was named Division II Attacker of the Year, finished the game with four goals. Senior attacker Matt Chadwick had a goal and three assists, sophomore attacker Nick Cannon had two goals and senior midfielder Alex Musci and freshman attacker Nick Musci each scored one goal.
Albright resigns as boys basketball coach
Blair Albright resigned as coach of the boys basketball team May 31 after leading the program for eight seasons.
A 1997 DeSales graduate, he simultaneously described his decision to accept the coaching job at Kettering Fairmont as a tough decision and exciting challenge.
"It's a very bittersweet situation," Albright said. "DeSales has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I am very proud of what we have here. I knew this day would come eventually, but the stability of the (Kettering) district, the size of the school and that it's a big public school in a one-horse town, so to speak, was very appealing."
Albright, who compiled a 156-60 overall record with the Stallions, including a 60-22 mark in the CCL, replaces Hank Bias, who resigned after 13 seasons. Albright's hiring was expected to be approved by the Kettering Board of Education on June 11.
Fairmont initially tabbed Fairfield athletics director Mark Harden to be Bias' replacement last month, but Harden reversed his decision days after accepting the job because of family concerns, according to the Dayton Daily News.
Albright guided the Stallions to five consecutive CCL championships from 2006-10 and Division II state appearances in 2006, 2007 and 2009. This past season, DeSales finished 13-12 overall and 1-7 in the CCL and lost to Marion-Franklin 56-34 in a district final.
Last winter, Fairmont finished 7-17 overall and 2-8 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference-Central Division.
"The community support is top-notch and the situation with their athletic program is as good as any in the state," Albright said. "I know I worked hard to leave DeSales in the best position I could. (My wife, Andi, and I) are excited for a new adventure."
Applicants should submit resumes to athletics director Tom Neubert at email@example.com by Saturday, June 15.
Feltz named coach of girls volleyball team
Andy Feltz was introduced May 30 as girls volleyball coach, replacing Kelly Morgan.
Feltz also coaches the boys volleyball team and is the only coach in that program's five-year history. This spring, the Stallions finished 21-4 overall, won the inaugural CCL title and made their first state appearance, where they lost to Middletown Fenwick 25-22, 25-10, 25-20 in a Division II state semifinal May 25 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
Last fall, the girls team finished 26-3, won its first CCL championship since 2004 and advanced to the Division II state tournament for the first time since 2004.
The Stallions lost to eventual state champion Cleveland Heights Beaumont 25-19, 25-14, 17-25, 25-14 in a state semifinal.
"I coached middle school girls volleyball in the fall at St. Paul (School in Westerville), so I know about half of the girls already," Feltz said. "It'll be a different challenge and I am looking forward to it. Rallies are longer (in girls volleyball), it's more tactical and you have to be more diverse on offense."
Morgan compiled an 81-25 record, including a 20-14 mark in the CCL, in four seasons at DeSales.