Candun Griffin ended his first season as coach of the Olentangy High School girls track and field team watching two of his athletes compete in the Division I state meet, just as he had hoped.
Junior Nicey Bauman placed second in the 300-meter hurdles (43.56 seconds) and third in the 100 hurdles (14.97) and sophomore Emily Ginter finished 10th in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches).
Griffin is hoping his other athletes, some of whom accompanied him to the meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, learned more about what it takes to perform at the high level beyond times, heights and distances.
"They see how hard Nicey and Emily and all the other girls who were there had to work all year and what it takes just to be in position to get to state," Griffin said. "How do those girls warm up? How do they carry themselves at meets? State is a different animal, an imposing one, and it's good for these girls to have an idea in the back of their mind what it's like."
Bauman was making her first state appearance and Ginter was making her second, having finished seventh in the high jump (5-2) as a freshman.
"Her biggest gripe about being 10th was that she'd been seventh before," Griffin said of Ginter. "She was disappointed that she didn't get a new (personal record), but in hindsight, it's really an amazing accomplishment to be at state in back-to-back years."
The Braves scored 14 points at state to tie New Albany for 16th behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
In the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, Bauman won the 300 hurdles (44.09) and was second (14.61) in the 100 hurdles and Ginter placed third in the high jump (5-4), as the top four finishers in each event advanced to state.
Olentangy finished 11th (24) at regional behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
In the 17-team Division I, district 1 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, Bauman won the 100 hurdles (15.17) and 300 hurdles (44.51) and Ginter placed third in the high jump (5-1), as the top four finishers in each event qualified for regional.
The Braves scored 32 points at district to finish 12th behind champion Hilliard Davidson (90).
In the OCC-Capital Division meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley, Olentangy finished fifth (50.5) 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).
Bauman won the 300 hurdles in a league record 44.09 and was second in the 100 hurdles (15.31) and Ginter won the high jump (5-3), placed fourth in the long jump (15-9 1/2) and was seventh in the 400 (1:03.12).
Also in the league meet, sophomore Alana Poff placed third in the pole vault (9-3), freshman Kendall Supinger was fourth in the 1,600 (5:31.5) and the 1,600 relay of freshman Maddie Bull, senior Courtney Simmons, Ginter and Bauman was fourth (4:14.02).
The same four girls competed in the 1,600 relay at district, placing sixth in a program-record 4:04.05.
"Their performance is just one sign that I think we're moving in the right direction," Griffin said of the 1,600 relay. "Some of our times aren't quite state-worthy yet and we know that, but there's promise."
Pioneers look to young sprinters
Orange coach Ingrid Simpson knows she might not see another thrower like senior Katelyn Daniels anytime soon, but while she looks to fill that void, she is hoping a promising group of young sprinters continues to progress.
Daniels, a Michigan State signee, won Division I state titles in the discus and shot put for the second consecutive year. She threw a personal-record 161-7 in the discus and a state-record 51-2 in the shot put after winning league, district and regional titles.
Orange's only state qualifier, Daniels earned 20 points for the Pioneers, who tied Reynoldsburg for fifth.
"I really felt like she had a big throw in her (at state)," Simpson said. "It's just her attitude and that atmosphere. She's always performed well in big meets. Trust me, we hate to see her go. We don't have a lot of throwers and we'll have to find some, but we have a lot of younger runners we hope to see keep improving."
Simpson rotated several girls in the relays, including junior Udoka Durunna and sophomores Mikaela Lyons, Mariella Ticoras, Alivia VanHoose and Diandra Walker.
Durunna was Orange's only other regional qualifier, finishing fourth in the high jump (5-0) in the district 1 meet and seventh (5-2) at regional.
"She really came through for us wherever we needed her," Simpson said of Durunna, who was the district 3 high jump champion as a sophomore (5-2). "She was really tough in the high jump. I think she'll consistently earn us some points next year."
At regional, Daniels won the discus (151-3) and shot put (48-4 3/4) as Orange finished 13th (22). She also won the discus (132-7) and shot put (45-5) at district, as the Pioneers scored 33 points to tie Worthington Kilbourne for 10th.
In the OCC-Capital meet, 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 senior Hannah Hartzell won the 3,200 (12:04.09) and was fifth in the 1,600 (5:31.96). Finishing second were Durunna in the high jump (5-2) and the 3,200 relay (9:54.01). The 400 relay (51.56) and 800 relay (1:48.02) both finished fourth.
Wiles highlights Patriots' season
Liberty sophomore Claire Wiles earned the program's first points in a running event in the Division I state meet when she placed fifth in the 1,600 (5:03.53). She also became the first Patriots' athlete to score at state since 2007, when 2009 graduate Kelsey Couts was runner-up in the high jump (5-8).
Also at state, Wiles teamed with freshman Claire Linn and seniors Kylie Spring and Sarah Miller to finish 15th in the 3,200 relay (9:36.54).
Liberty scored four points to tie four other teams for 49th.
"I think something that helped Claire was that the relay ran (June 7), so she got a chance to be on the track before her final (June 8)," coach James Dingus said. "That performance was big for her and the program. We saw from the beginning that Claire is a special athlete and she still has so much potential to reach."
At regional, Wiles placed second in the 1,600 (5:07.52), the 3,200 relay placed fourth (9:31.79) and junior Ebony Nelson finished 15th in the discus (88-5), as Liberty tied DeSales and Zanesville for 18th (13).
In the district 1 meet, the 3,200 relay placed second (9:39.78), Wiles placed third in the 1,600 (5:12.76) and Nelson was third in the discus (102-4), as the Patriots finished fifth (51.5).
Liberty won four of the five regular-season invitationals in which it competed and finished third (110) in the OCC-Central meet May 16 and 18, finishing behind Davidson (141.5) and Dublin Coffman (140) and ahead of Upper Arlington (97), host Thomas Worthington (79.5), Central Crossing (49), Marysville (36) and Westland (9).
Junior Alena Southwick won the league title in the 100 hurdles (15.57), placed fifth in the 100 (13.1) and was on the winning 400 relay (50.44). She ran a program-record 15.55 in the 100 hurdles during the preliminaries.
Also in the league meet, freshman Haley Pickelheimer won the 300 hurdles (47.097) by .003 of a second. Finishing second were Wiles in the 1,600 (5:09.8) and the 3,200 relay (9:38.08) and placing third were Wiles in the 800 (2:19.07) and senior Morgan Dye in the 200 (26.32). Dye also finished fourth in the 100 (13.06).
Davidson went on to win the district 1 title and Coffman won district 3.
"It's an amazing feat to have that kind of talent in our league and still have our girls perform so well," Dingus said. "The girls understand what it takes."
Other expected returnees include junior Katy McFarland (sprints), and sophomores Bobbi Hines (thrower), Stephanie Paul (sprints) and Trinity Wiles (distance).
At district, McFarland placed fifth in the high jump (4-10), Hines finished seventh in the shot put (34-2 1/4) and Paul was seventh in the 400 (1:00.95).