Katelyn Daniels of the Olentangy Orange High School girls track and field team started her senior season April 2 like her junior season ended.
The defending Division I state champion in the shot put and discus, Daniels won the discus in a home meet against Dublin Jerome with a throw of 140 feet, 7 inches, seven inches farther than her then-program record throw at state.
Fifth-year coach Ingrid Simpson was anything but surprised.
"She hasn't stopped working out since the state meet," Simpson said. "She's been in the weight room so much, doing plyometrics and some running, too. So, no, I wasn't surprised to see that effort. That's fine with me."
Daniels, a Michigan State signee, swept her throwing events at each stage of last year's postseason. She set OCC-Capital Division records in the shot put (44-10) and discus (139-10), won both district 3 titles (44-10 and 132-2, respectively) and took the regional championships (45-3 1/2 and 134-6).
Daniels won the state shot put title with an effort of 47-4 1/2. She was joined at state by junior Hannah Hartzell, who was fifth in the 3,200 meters (team-record 10 minutes, 56.65 seconds) as the Pioneers scored 24 points and tied Medina for fifth (24) behind champion Reynoldsburg (56) and 72 teams scored.
Hartzell was a district champion in the 3,200 (11:10.96) and placed third at regional (11:18.57).
Other top contributors for Orange include junior Udoka Durunna, a defending district champion in the high jump (5-2), seniors Kimberly Agyekum (throws), Erin Ebersbach (throws, jumps), Kaleigh Jurcisek (pole vault), Brooke Pulkrabek (middle distance), Riley Simpson (distance), Caroline Vazza (long jump), Daryn Weaver (distance) and Rachel Weaver (distance), juniors Madison Dunn (sprints), Stephanie Lewis (sprints), Allison Priest (jumps), Alana Stillion (middle distance) and Addie Tyler (pole vault) and sophomores Thelma Agyekum (sprints), Mikaela Lyons (sprints), Alizia Van Hoose (sprints) and Diandra Walker (sprints).
"We have our share of younger athletes, but they've performed well," said Simpson, whose team defeated Jerome 98-37 in the opener and finished first (99) ahead of runner-up Washington Court House (80) in the London Red Raider Relays on April 6. "They went to those big meets as freshmen and sophomores, so they won't be nervous now. They know what to do."
The Pioneers placed fifth (76.75) in the OCC-Capital meet last year behind New Albany (161.5), Watkins Memorial (109), Hilliard Bradley (85.25) and Big Walnut (84) and ahead of Franklin Heights (61), Delaware (44) and Mount Vernon (40.5). Olentangy has replaced Bradley in the league.
Orange was fourth (75.5) in district 3 behind champion Reynoldsburg (116.5) as 14 teams scored. The Pioneers tied Jerome and Gahanna for seventh (27) at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (77) as 43 teams scored.
Bauman, Ginter to pace Braves
Junior sprinter Nicey Bauman and sophomore high jumper Emily Ginter's prospects are raising the expectations of new Olentangy coach Candun Griffin.
Last season, Ginter tied for seventh in the high jump (5-2) in the Division I state meet after winning the OCC-Cardinal title (5-2) and finishing fourth at district (5-0) and second at regional (5-2). Bauman finished second in the 100 hurdles (16.06) and 300 hurdles (47.61) in the league meet, then advanced to regional in both events by finishing fourth (15.77) and third (45.25), respectively, at district.
Bauman, who was 11th in the 100 hurdles (15.95) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (46.31) at regional, set school records in those events (14.94 and 44.82, respectively) at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic in late March in New Orleans.
"(Bauman) had a fantastic summer and a great winter," said Griffin, the Braves' high-jump coach the past four years who succeeded three-year coach Marty Hunt. "We can see Emily (who also will contribute in the 100) making some big strides, too. Her (personal record in the high jump) is 5-4 and the school record is 5-5. I hope to see some 5-6s and 5-7s from her soon."
Griffin expects key contributors to include seniors Aubrey Gore (distance), Angela Guidarelli (distance), Cierra Kerrigan (pole vault) and Courtney Simmons (sprints, distance) and freshman Maddy Bull (sprints). Griffin said several other sophomores and juniors are in the mix for various events.
Olentangy, which has moved to the OCC-Capital, was eighth (54.5) in the OCC-Cardinal meet last year behind Dublin Scioto (142), Westerville Central (98), Liberty (91.5), Westerville South (78.5), Jerome (72.5), Marysville (65) and Westerville North (59).
The Braves were eighth (38) in district 1 behind champion Dublin Coffman (141) as 15 teams scored and 12th (21) at regional.
Olentangy opened in a home tri-meet April 2, finishing second (55) behind Westerville South (70) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (47).
In the 21-team Wildcat Premier on April 6 at Hilliard Davidson, the Braves were 15th (13) behind champion Gahanna (125).
Patriots boast deeper roster
With the most veterans and deepest program he's had in his three seasons, Liberty coach James Dingus altered his approach entering the Patriots' opener April 9 against Westerville Central and Worthington Kilbourne.
"The thing we've had to preach about a lot the last couple seasons is lack of depth. Now we're full of sophomores and juniors who have a lot of experience in big events," said Dingus, who has 85 athletes in the girls program. "The sheer volume of athletes requires a lot of organization on our part. We have to focus on key issues, like general conditioning and managing almost 200 athletes on the track at once (between the Patriots' boys and girls programs). But we want to have it this way."
Seven of Liberty's 10 regional qualifiers from a year ago return in seniors Morgan Dye (sprints) and Sarah Miller (middle distance), juniors Katy McFarland (sprints, high jump) and Alena Southwick (hurdles, sprint relays) and sophomores McKenzy Robinson (sprints), Claire Wiles (distance) and Trinity Wiles (distance).
Claire Wiles set a school record in the 1,600 (5:12.68) in the OCC-Cardinal meet last year. McFarland set the 400 record (59.26) in the district 1 meet, where the 3,200 relay of Miller, the Wiles sisters and 2012 graduate Emily Yax set a school mark (9:42.64).
Other expected contributors include seniors Sami Kulp (sprints) and Hannah Wishart (middle distance), juniors Dorianna Ma (throws) and Sonia Pham (hurdles, sprints) and sophomores Mhairi Johnston (distance) and Autumn Lowder (hurdles, long jump).
Liberty was sixth (48) in district 1.
At regional, the 400 relay of Dye, Southwick, Robinson and 2012 graduate Jalynn Guice was eighth (50.37) for Liberty's only point as the Patriots tied for 40th. McFarland was 14th in the 400 (1:02.25) and the 3,200 relay was ninth (9:49.04).
As part of OCC realignment, Liberty and Marysville now are in the OCC-Central with Central Crossing, Coffman, Davidson, Thomas, Upper Arlington and Westland.