Olentangy Liberty High School boys track and field coach Ryan Snivley wants senior Zach VanGundy and junior Andrew Johnston to feel good about their performances in the Division I state meet.
Both runners set program records in the state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, with Johnston placing eighth in the 3,200 meters (9 minutes, 19.16 seconds) and VanGundy finishing 13th in the 1,600 (4:18.14).
"We knew going in that they were two exceptionally tough races," Snivley said. "I know Zach tweeted afterward that he wondered what more he could do after setting a record but finishing 13th. But trust me, the whole program is pretty proud of what both those guys were able to do."
Westerville North senior and Notre Dame-signee Jacob Dumford won the 1,600 in a stadium-record 4:08.21, and Stanford-signee Sam Wharton of Tipp City Tippecanoe won the 3,200 in 8:56.61.
Liberty got one point at state from Johnston to tie five other teams for 57th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
"Andrew and Zach are just mentally tough guys and they set goals and reached them," Snivley said.
In the Division I regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, Johnston placed fourth in the 3,200 (9:23.81) and VanGundy was fourth in the 1,600 (4:22.78), as the top four finishers in each event advanced to state.
VanGundy clinched his first state trip with a furious finish to edge Hilliard Darby freshman Daniel Reynolds by .14 of a second, and the Patriots tied Logan for 18th (11) behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Also competing at regional were sophomore Jacob Merrels in the 200 (12th, 23.56), junior David Trzcinski in the shot put (eighth, 49 feet, 1 inch) and the 3,200 relay of Johnston, VanGundy and juniors Brad Wiemels and Josh Wojochiechowski (ninth, 8:13.22).
Trzcinski became the Patriots' top thrower late in the season when senior Grant Cartwright, a University of Michigan signee and the 2012 state champion in the discus, was sidelined by a back injury that lingered from football season. In the 15-team district 1 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, Trzcinski placed third in the shot put (46-6 3/4) and 11th in the discus (125-6), as the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional.
Also at district, Johnston won the 3,200 (9:34.93), VanGundy placed fourth in the 1,600 (4:22.47) and the 3,200 relay placed second (8:05.4), as the Patriots finished fifth (51) behind champion Pickerington North (159.5).
Winning titles in the OCC-Central Division meet May 16 and 18 were VanGundy in the 1,600 (4:25.68), the 3,200 relay (8:07.4), Trzcinski in the shot put (47-10 1/4), junior Camron Cook in the pole vault (13-0) and Johnston in the 3,200 (9:42.48).
The Patriots scored 127 points in the league meet to finish second behind Hilliard Davidson (204.5) and ahead of host Thomas Worthington (75), Dublin Coffman (72.5), Upper Arlington (61), Marysville (53), Westland (31) and Central Crossing (28).
Freshman John Schultz also was among Liberty's top performers in the league meet, placing second in the pole vault (13-0).
"We'll have to do some reloading in the distance events for next year," Snivley said.
"I'd like to build up our number of throwers, too. The majority of our sprinters are underclassmen, so we have a good core with them."
Braves' relays set new standards
Olentangy advanced relays to the Division I state meet for the first time during coach Brad Komenda's five-year tenure, and he hopes his program has enough depth to make that a regular occurrence.
The 1,600 relay finished ninth (3:20.91) at state and the 400 relay did not finish after the baton was dropped. Both relays consisted of seniors Ramal Iverson, Colin McShane and Dan Wruble and junior Jeff Clark.
"Those four guys ran the (400), (800) and (1,600 relays) this year," Komenda said. "The (800 relay) set school and Olentangy district records (1:29.17) and the (1,600 relay) was a tenth of a second off the school record. They were quite a team."
The Braves, who did not have any individual state qualifiers, did not score at state.
At regional, the 400 relay placed third (42.86) and the 1,600 relay finished fourth (3:21.14), as Olentangy scored 14 points to tie Hamilton Township for 13th. Also competing at regional was the 800 relay, which placed sixth (1:29.17).
In the district 1 meet, the 400 relay (42.96) and 1,600 relay (3:21.17) both placed second and the 800 relay was third (3:21.17), as Olentangy finished eighth (32). Senior Buchi Okafor sustained a season-ending hamstring injury during the 400 relay and Iverson filled his spot for the remainder of the season.
Olentangy finished fourth (69) in the OCC-Capital meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley, 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 won the league title in the 800 relay (1:30.94). Among their second-place finishes were junior Chase Benson in the 3,200 (9:54.56), McShane in the 100 (11.2) and senior Nick Schrader in the pole vault (14-0). Schrader is heading to Ohio State as a preferred walk-on.
Among those expected to be key contributors next season are Benson, Clark and sophomores Brandon Bice (pole vault), Stephan Morris (hurdles, sprints) and Charles Rodeheffer (distance).
Pioneers lose two state qualifiers
Orange loses 13 seniors, including two Division I state qualifiers in Travis Napper and Triston Richardson.
Napper competed in four wheelchair events at state, placing third in the shot put (16-11 3/4), sixth in the 400 (1:22.29) and 800 (3:05.72) and seventh in the 100 (22.05). Richardson, an Eastern Michigan University signee, finished 14th in the pole vault (13-6).
Orange did not score at state, as the wheelchair events were not included in team scoring.
"Triston and Travis being (at state) are our best standout athletes, but we didn't have any absolutely amazing talent, so it took them coming together and being an actual team for us to succeed," coach Buck Weaver said. "That's not always easy with so many individual events making up the whole sport, but our kids came together as a whole and supported each other."
At regional, Richardson placed second in the pole vault (14-0) to earn seven points for the Pioneers, who tied Thomas Worthington and Walnut Ridge for 23rd.
Richardson also placed second (14-4) in the district 1 meet, as Orange finished 15th (13). The 400 relay of junior Kwabena Awuah and seniors Jess Glover, Josh Parker and Trey Pride placed fifth (44.56).
In the OCC-Capital meet, Richardson finished first in the pole vault (14-6) and seventh in the long jump (19-11) and Parker placed second in the long jump (20-7 1/2).
Among those expected to be key contributors next season are Awuah, juniors Charlie Barger (pole vault) and Tyler Young (distance) and freshmen Andre Keels (hurdles, sprints) and Brandon Morrow (distance).