Part of the fun for high school track and field coaches during the regular season is trying athletes in different events to see where they will succeed.
It's a bonus if those athletes take to an event quickly.
Two Olentangy Liberty runners, junior Alena Southwick and senior Zach VanGundy, made their coaches' decisions pay off in the OCC-Central Division meet May 16 and 18 at Thomas Worthington.
VanGundy won the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 25.68 seconds) despite competing in the event for only the third time this season and Southwick placed fifth in the 100 (13.1) even though she was competing in the event for the first time in two years.
Those performances helped Liberty finish second and third, respectively, in the boys and girls league meets.
"(The Olentangy Invitational on May 3) was my first time running the mile," said VanGundy, who also anchored the winning 3,200 relay (8:07.4) and placed second in the 800 (1:59.51) in the league meet. "I felt all right. Then I came back and ran it in (the Delaware County Elite 8 meet May 9). From then on out, the (1,600-800) double was my thing. I went 4:26 in the mile in our county meet and won the 200, too. (In the league meet), I was hoping for a cloudy day because if it was hot, it'd be hard to get three firsts."
Also for the boys team, junior David Trzcinski won the shot put (47 feet, 10 1/4 inches), junior Camron Cook won the pole vault (13-0) and placed sixth in the high jump (5-10) and junior Andrew Johnston won the 3,200 (9:42.48).
Freshman John Schultz finished second in the pole vault (13-0), the 400 relay placed second (44.75), sophomore Jacob Merrels placed third in the 200 (23.03) and senior Zack Shank placed fourth in the shot put (44-8 1/2) and fifth in the discus (128-1).
Liberty scored 127 points to finish behind Hilliard Davidson (204.5) and ahead of Thomas (75), Dublin Coffman (72.5), Upper Arlington (61), Marysville (53), Westland (31) and Central Crossing (28).
The girls team scored 110 points to finish behind Davidson (141.5) and Coffman (140) and ahead of UA (97), Thomas (79.5), Central Crossing (49), Marysville (36) and Westland (9).
In addition to finishing fifth in the 100, Southwick won the 100 hurdles (15.57) and helped the winning 400 relay (50.44). She ran the 100 right after running the 100 hurdles.
"I (had a personal record) in the 100 hurdles, so that was nice," said Southwick, who set the program record in the 100 hurdles by running a 15.55 in the preliminaries May 16. "I was really tired for the 100, but it was fun. And the (400 relay) is always really fun to work together. I always take my races seriously, but these (meets) are fun. There's more competition being against so many better runners. I take more time to get myself mentally prepared for these races."
Also for the girls team, freshman Haley Pickelheimer won the 300 hurdles by .003 of a second (47.097), the 3,200 relay placed second (program-record 9:38.08), sophomore Claire Wiles placed second in the 1,600 (5:09.8) and third in the 800 (2:19.07) and senior Morgan Dye placed third in the 200 (26.32) and fourth in the 100 (13.06).
Liberty, Olentangy and Orange are competing in the Division I, district 1 meet this week at Hilliard Darby. The running event preliminaries were held May 21, the field events are Thursday, May 23 and the running event finals are Saturday, May 25.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet Wednesday, May 29, and May 31 at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each regional event qualify for the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
"We have a tough road, but we can make it on," VanGundy said. "Central Ohio is very good in distance events. We have very talented runners down here. We'll be prepared."
Bauman, Ginter lead Olentangy girls
Olentangy junior Nicey Bauman set a meet record by winning the 300 hurdles in 44.09 and placed second in the 100 hurdles (15.31) to help lead the girls team in the OCC-Capital meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley.
Another key contributor was sophomore Emily Ginter, who won the high jump (5-3), placed fourth in the long jump (15-9 1/2) and finished seventh in the 400 (1:03.12).
Olentangy scored 50.5 points to place fifth behind New Albany (153), Big Walnut (124.5), Watkins Memorial (109.5) and Orange (79.5) and ahead of Franklin Heights (50), Mount Vernon (46) and Delaware (27).
Also for the girls team, sophomore Alana Poff finished third in the pole vault (9-3), freshman Kendall Supinger placed fourth in the 1,600 (5:31.5) and the 1,600 relay finished fourth (4:14.02).
The boys team finished fourth (69) in the OCC-Capital meet, behind New Albany (182), Watkins Memorial (173) and Big Walnut (81) and ahead of Delaware (52.5), Orange (41.5), Mount Vernon (37) and Franklin Heights (25).
The Braves were led by the winning 800 relay (1:30.94) and second-place finishes from junior Chase Benson in the 3,200 (9:54.56), senior Collin McShane in the 100 (11.2), senior Nick Schrader in the pole vault (14-0), the 1,600 relay (3:30.06) and the 400 relay (43.15).
Daniels, Hartzell lead Orange girls
Helping to lead the Orange girls team in the OCC-Capital meet were senior Katelyn Daniels and freshman Hannah Hartzell.
Daniels set league records in winning the discus (143-1) and shot put (46-8) and placed fifth in the long jump (15-8 3/4), and Hartzell won the 3,200 (12:04.09) and finished fifth in the 1,600 (5:31.96).
Also for the girls team, the 3,200 relay placed second (9:54.01), sophomore Udoka Durunna was runner-up in the high jump (5-2) and the 400 relay (51.56) and 800 relay (1:48.02) both placed fourth.
Senior Triston Richardson won the pole vault (14-6) and placed seventh in the long jump (19-11) and senior Josh Parker placed second in the long jump (20-7 1/2) to lead the boys team.