Although he was the program's first regional qualifier last season, Tree of Life Christian School senior Jaylan Davis had doubts about whether he wanted to compete in track and field this spring.
Davis, who played football for the Columbus Crusaders, had planned to concentrate on that sport since he will play for Kentucky Christian University.
However, at the urging of coach Nikki Steward, Davis decided to participate in track, and that decision led to him becoming one of Tree of Life's first qualifiers for the Division III state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Davis, who was one of four seniors on the boys team, finished 12th in the 400 meters (51.13 seconds) and joined senior David Burton and juniors Aaron Russell and Walter Woodard in finishing 13th in the 800 relay (1:32.32).
The Trojans didn't score at state. Columbus Academy (49) won its second consecutive championship.
"I'm just glad I'm here," Davis said. "At the beginning of the season I didn't even think I was going to make it this far. I was kind of lazy, but towards the end of the (regular) season I knew I had a chance because I was improving my times at meets and coach was working me hard during the season. I worked out more this season than last season."
Steward was pleased with Davis' decision.
"I encouraged him to run and he wasn't sure if he was going to run," she said. "Last year he placed eighth in the region in the 400 (52.74), but I constantly stayed on him. Early in the season he would miss a couple of practices and I was like, 'Jaylan, I don't want to dismiss you from the team, but I need you.' He stepped up, so I'm really proud of him."
Burton, who was a standout on the boys soccer team and will play at the University of Cincinnati, joined the relay in April.
"This is pretty awesome," he said of the state meet. "This is more than I expected. It's a lot louder than I would have thought. It's great to be here."
Steward is impressed with her program's development in a short period of time.
"It's definitely a blessing for us to even make a showing here," she said of qualifying athletes for state. "For us to make a showing in our fourth year is amazing to me. We don't have a track, we don't have facilities. We practice at Brookhaven. We share a track with Brookhaven, but for us to even get a ticket in, we're good. I expect way more coming from us in the future."
The boys were 17th (12) at regional May 29 and 31 at Fairfield Union behind champion Academy (89) as 41 teams scored. Davis was third in the 400 (51.18) and the 800 relay was fourth (1:31.79) as the top four in each event advanced to state.
Woodard was 12th in the high jump (17 feet, 11 1/2 inches).
The Trojans were seventh (38) in the 17-team district 2 meet May 21, 22 and 25 at Hamilton Township behind champion Fairbanks (134). Finishing third were Davis in the 400 (51.43), Woodard in the long jump (19-5 1/4) and the 800 relay (1:32.49).
Tree of Life was third (113) in the MOCAL meet May 18 at Worthington Christian behind Gahanna Christian (183) and Fairfield Christian (119) and ahead of Grove City Christian (74) and Madison Christian (59).
Others expected to return are sophomores Simms Boateng and Ryan Weilbacher and freshmen Isaiah Ebert, Collin Swisher and Jordan Terry.
The girls team tied East Knox for 21st (4) in the 32-team district meet behind champion Academy (96.5).
Kailah Sanders, who was one of four seniors, was fifth in the high jump (4-10).
The Trojans finished second (97) in the MOCAL meet behind Fairfield Christian (154) and ahead of Grove City Christian (66), Madison Christian (57), Gahanna Christian (53) and Delaware Christian (40).
Those expected to return are junior Kierra Sanders, sophomore Taijanique Dawkins and freshman Dominique Davis.