Several athletes appear ready to step up when the Olentangy High School girls track and field team opens Tuesday, April 3, at Westerville South.

Several athletes appear ready to step up when the Olentangy High School girls track and field team opens Tuesday, April 3, at Westerville South.

Adaora Anunike, a three-time Division I state qualifier in the shot put, and Brittney Simmons, who advanced to the 2010 state meet in the high jump, graduated last spring.

But third-year coach Marty Hunt said many of his team's athletes have been waiting to show what they can do.

"As a program, it's hard to replace people like that," he said. "However, some of these girls can come out from beneath that shadow and show a little bit of what they have."

Anunike finished ninth in the shot put (program-record 41 feet, 3 1/2 inches) and 13th in the discus (118-4) last year at state. Olentangy failed to score as Reynoldsburg (47) won the title.

Anunike also finished 15th in the shot put as a junior (34-11 1/4) and sophomore (36-9 3/4) in her previous trips to state.

Simmons, who placed ninth at state in the high jump (5-4) as a junior, tied for seventh (4-10) last year at regional as the top four finishers advanced.

In the indoor state meet March 17 at the University of Akron, senior Whitney Bice and freshman Emily Ginter showed they're ready to contribute.

Bice cleared 10-6 in the pole vault to tie Medina's Jenna D'Errico for second behind Uniontown Green's Morgan Estes (11-6). Ginter tied Sylvania Southview's Elizabeth Sares for third (5-2) in the high jump behind North Canton Hoover's Maddie Morrow (5-10) and Avon's Madison Cooper (5-2).

Olentangy placed 16th (12.5 points) behind champion Solon (58).

Bice, who cleared a program-record 11-1 in the pole vault in last year's Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut, tied for sixth (10-0) and senior Gabi Smith placed ninth (10-0) last year at regional.

The Braves placed second (116) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet behind Dublin Scioto (150) and ahead of Westerville North (78), Westerville South (75.33), Olentangy Liberty (73), Westerville Central (65.33), Dublin Jerome (56) and Marysville (48.33).

Olentangy placed third (77.5) in the district 1 meet behind Dublin Coffman (152) and Big Walnut (79) and finished 12th (17.5) at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (88).

Competing in sprinting events will be Bice, Ginter, juniors Courtney Simmons and Kelsey Taylor and sophomores Nicey Bauman, Alex Hubbard and Mara Nebraska. Sophomore Ganiru Anunike (sprints, high jump) has been recovering from a back injury.

Ganiru Anunike, Bauman, Hubbard and Courtney Simmons placed 14th in the 800 relay (1:48.46) at regional and missed matching the 1993 school record by .3 of a second while placing fourth (1:47.5) at district.

Seniors Emily McGinness and Elizabeth Potter and juniors Aubrey Gore and Angela Guida-relli lead the distance runners.

In addition to the returnees, Hunt believes he has a group of freshmen who are going to contribute.

"We need to have the upperclassmen bring along the underclassmen," Hunt said. "You can see that happening in the distance program. The upperclassmen are helping guide the underclassmen to make the team stronger."

Perry's departure leaves void for boys

When Ohio State football recruit Joshua Perry graduated in December, it left the boys team without one of its marquee athletes.

Perry placed second in the long jump in the 2010 state meet (22-10) and was fifth last year (22-5 1/4).

However, fourth-year coach Brad Komenda believes he has enough talent coming back to pull off some surprises this spring.

"As long as they continue to buy into what we are trying to do to, we'll be all right," Komenda said. "On paper we may not appear to be as strong as we were last year, but I think we can surprise some people."

In the field events, the strength of the team might shift from the long jump to the throws. Seniors Nick Gray, Brandon Owens and Alex Shetler and sophomore Kevin Sherry will compete in the throwing events.

Also competing in field events are juniors Ramal Iverson (long jump), Nick Schrader (pole vault) and Garret Rice (long jump) and sophomores Brennan Brooks (pole vault) and Jeff Clark (high jump).

"We're obviously going to be led by the throwers, but I think we could be solid in the pole vault," Komenda said. "Nick and Brennan have done a great job of training in the offseason."

Seniors Anthony Outley and Winston Thomas and juniors Colin McShane, Buchi Okafor and Dan Wruble are sprinters. Seniors Andrew Catanese, Jacob Soppe, Josh Soppe and Patrick Zuelke and sophomore Chase Benson will compete in the distance events.

Last season, the Braves placed second (104.5) in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind champion Westerville Central (126.5) and ahead of Liberty (102), Westerville North (90), Marysville (72.25), Westerville South (66.25), Scioto (49.5) and Jerome (44).

The Braves finished fifth (54) behind champion Thomas Worthington (87) in the district 1 meet and tied Gahanna for 23rd (13) at regional behind co-champions Thomas (37) and Westerville North (37).