The DeSales High School track and field teams start every practice with a purpose.
Before splitting off into working on individual events, the Stallions run 800 meters together -- ideally without a sound. On rotating days, athletes of all disciplines get to work with one of three assistant coaches -- Stephanie McDaniel (jumps), Greg Zacharias (throws) and Marie Zinn (distance).
"I want them to get in the zone for practice. You practice like you compete. There's no difference," coach Ben McGinnis said. "What can be hard during practice is that throws are over here, then jumpers are somewhere else and distance (runners) are running long laps. At the beginning (of practice), all of the coaches are together and the entire team is together in one spot. And when the kids work with everybody, it can be kind of a bonding experience."
McGinnis hopes the renewed sense of team helps DeSales shine in the CCL meet Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17. Not only is the girls team seeking to repeat as league champion and the boys team hoping to improve on last year's second-place finish, but DeSales is playing host to the league meet for the first time since 2010.
"We've been waiting four years to have our big meet on our own track," said senior Erin Kuisti, a hurdler who also was on the 800 relay that finished 12th in the Division I state meet last year. "How we do will set the tone for the whole postseason."
While the Stallions have had regular contributors from several upperclassmen -- senior Myron Goldsmith has been the boys' top thrower and Kuisti and senior Ashli Pope (who also was on the 800 relay at state last year) have been among the girls' top runners -- McGinnis is excited about the contributions from his underclassmen.
Among the younger athletes are juniors Brandon Krietemeyer (sprints) and Logan Saunders (jumps/sprints), sophomores Danny Barren (throws), Morgan Barrett (throws), Olivia Nortz (jumps/sprints) and Cameron Savage (sprints) and freshman Derrius Mullins (throws).
In the Warrior Relays on May 7 at Eastmoor Academy, sophomores Daria Barrett, Andrea Coffey, Jenna Melvin and Nina Rupert made up the girls 3,200 relay. On the boys side, the 800 sprint medley consisted of sophomores Austin Andrews, Jeremy Ford and Brandon Johnson and freshman Andre White.
In the Warrior Relays, Goldsmith was first in the shot put (49 feet, 5 1/2 inches) and Barren placed third in the discus (115-1).
"The boys are in a very good position," McGinnis said. "I feel good about the boys like I did about the girls last year. They're sound from our throwers all the way through to our relays. We spread points out on both teams. We can't win it all with just relays."
Before the CCL running finals May 17, the Stallions will pay tribute to late cross country coach Bob Lennon, who was killed Sept. 15 when he was hit by a car during a bike ride in southeast Delaware County.
According to McGinnis, a silent lap will be run around the track and a moment of silence will take place.
Last year, the girls team scored 114 points in the CCL meet to edge Columbus School for Girls (112) for the title, and the boys team finished a distant second (81) behind champion St. Charles (175).
Next week, DeSales will turn its focus to the postseason. The girls team will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet that begins Tuesday, May 20, and continues May 22 and 24 at Hilliard Darby, and the boys team will compete in the Division II, district 1 meet that begins May 20 and continues Wednesday, May 21, before ending May 24 at Heath.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional. The Division I regional is May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North, and the Division II regional is May 29 and 31 at Lexington.
Softball team wins another league title
For the second time in three years, the softball team won the CCL championship by going undefeated in league play.
DeSales scored four runs in the fourth inning and five in the fifth to edge Hartley 11-10 in its league finale May 7 at home, capping a 6-0 season in the CCL. Cameron Barber had a two-run home run in the first inning for the Stallions, who finished ahead of Hartley (3-3), Ready (2-4) and Watterson (1-5).
DeSales clinched the title May 5 with a 7-0 win over Ready. The Stallions also won the CCL in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Seeded 17th of 45 teams, the Stallions were 12-8 overall before playing host to 44th-seeded Walnut Ridge in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 13. The winner plays at 14th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in the second round Thursday, May 15, with the second-round winner playing top-seeded Marysville, 36th-seeded Newark or 43rd-seeded Westland in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 20, at Pickerington North.
The district final will be played May 23 or 24 at Pickerington Central.
DeSales defeated Bradley 9-7 on April 12.
Girls lacrosse team shares league title
The girls lacrosse team won its first Central Independent League championship.
DeSales lost to host Columbus Academy 9-8 in its CIL finale May 6, forging a three-way tie for the league title between the Stallions, Academy and Bexley. All three teams finished 6-1 in league play.
Ali Cargin scored four goals and Jennie Finotti scored three against Academy.
DeSales, which is 10-3 overall, will play host to Hartley or Watterson in the second round of the Division II South/Central Region tournament Thursday, May 15.
The Stallions, who had a first-round bye, defeated Hartley 11-9 on April 29 and Watterson 22-14 on March 28.
The second-round winner will play host to Bexley, Chillicothe, Cincinnati McAuley or Cincinnati Wyoming in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 20.
The semifinal winner advances to a regional final May 22.
The Stallions defeated Bexley 9-6 on April 8.
Baseball team ties for third in CCL
The baseball team finished 3-5 in the CCL, tying Hartley for third behind Watterson (7-1) and St. Charles (6-2) and ahead of Ready (1-7).
DeSales went 2-1 in league play last week, posting wins over Hartley (13-6 on May 5) and St. Charles (8-3 on May 6) and losing to Watterson (6-0 on May 7) in its league finale to fall to 11-13 overall.
Aaron Kienzle hit a two-run home run in the first inning against Hartley.
Seeded ninth of 27 teams, DeSales played host to 22nd-seeded Eastmoor Academy in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 13. The winner plays fifth-seeded Licking Valley or 25th-seeded Beechcroft in a second-round game Thursday, May 15, at the home of the higher seed.
The second-round winner faces third-seeded Bexley, 12th-seeded Granville or 13th-seeded Heath in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 20, at Worthington Kilbourne, with the winner advancing to a district final May 22 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
DeSales defeated Bexley 10-5 on April 12 and lost to Granville 9-8 on April 5.
Boys tennis team set for sectional
Seven members of the boys tennis team will compete in the Division II sectional Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17, at Columbus Academy.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 23 and 24 at Academy.
Brothers Armando DiMichaelangelo and Sonny DiMichaelangelo are seeded fourth at sectional in doubles. They have a first-round bye and will play either Fisher Catholic's Logan Gordon and Luke Schmelzer or Jonathan Alder's Anthony Dresvyannikov or Lucas McClaskie in the second round.
Mack Beidler and Kevin Boyer also have a first-round bye in doubles and will play Buckeye Valley's Sam Fairbanks and Nick Roden or Jonathan Alder's Sam Recker and Logan Woods in the second round.
In the first round in singles, Dominic Belvedere will face Jonathan Alder's Nick Beachy, Charlie Mitchell will play Carter Corcoron of Fisher Catholic and Jacob Mulligan will face Grandview's Jay Huff.
DeSales was 5-8 overall and 2-0 in the CCL before playing Watterson on May 12.
Season ends for volleyball team
The boys volleyball team won't make a repeat run to the Division II state tournament.
DeSales drew Watterson in the first round of the Division II East Region tournament May 9 at Mount Vernon and lost 25-14, 20-25, 15-25, 25-22, 15-12. Watterson sprinted to an 11-6 lead in the fifth game and held on.
The Stallions finished 18-5 overall and went 3-1 in the CCL, sharing the league championship with Watterson ahead of St. Charles (0-4). Hartley and Ready do not have programs.