By the time freshman Kaitlyn Meyer of the Pickerington High School Central girls track and field team was competing in the 3,200 meters last Saturday in the Division I district 1 meet at Dublin Coffman, Central and Hilliard Darby were in the midst of a battle for first.

By the time freshman Kaitlyn Meyer of the Pickerington High School Central girls track and field team was competing in the 3,200 meters last Saturday in the Division I district 1 meet at Dublin Coffman, Central and Hilliard Darby were in the midst of a battle for first.

The Panthers had the favorite to win the 3,200, Erika Alpeter, and the senior cruised to the title in 11 minutes, 19.9 seconds.

Meyer made sure she did all she could, edging Coffman's Mary Pfeifer by four seconds to place second (11:45.65) and earn her team eight points in the event.

The Tigers, who led Darby by 2.5 points heading into the final event, finished off their first district title since 1999 when their 1,600 relay took second and Darby placed fifth, giving them 128.5 points. Darby scored 122.

The Tigers all but clinched the title when the third leg of the 1,600 relay, Tionne Goodson, moved from third to second after taking the baton. Darby was second through two legs but slipped to fifth.

"We beat Hilliard?" Goodson said moments after she found out her team had won the title. "Yes. I just knew I had to give it my all out there."

The team championship was something that Meyer had in mind as she made her move late in the 3,200.

"That goes through my head a lot," she said. "My teammates helped me get here, so I wanted to help get points for them."

The Tigers advanced in 10 individual events and three relays to the regional meet, which began last Wednesday and will conclude Friday at Hilliard Davidson.

The top four in each event will advance to state June 6-7 at Ohio State.

"Hilliard Darby is an awesome program so it's great to beat them," coach Robb Hammond said. "From top to bottom, it was a total team effort."

The 1,600 relay includes freshmen Jasmine Greene, Jalisa Jarrett and Jordan Robinson and sophomore Kaitlin Peters. The 400 and 800 relays feature two seniors and two freshmen.

Seniors Bonnise Ragins and Deja Cagle are a part of both relays and were joined by Greene and freshman Elizabeth England on the 400 and by freshmen Allison Hammond and Jarrett on the 800.

"We take it week by week," Cagle said of how the relays have come together. "(The freshmen) are awesome. I'm glad they're here."

ēThe boys team finished sixth (52) behind champion Reynoldsburg (126) in the Division I district 3 meet that concluded last Saturday at Coffman.

The Tigers advanced four individuals and two relays to regional, though they struggled to qualify in the event that has been a strength all season -- the 800 relay.

With Chris Forte out with a hamstring injury and Jamie Wood out of town, freshman Tyler Hammond and sophomore Malcolm Pannell stepped in as the second and third legs. Patrick White led off and Ron Burgess anchored.

The group finished fourth.

"It's been hard because this (relay) is expected to go pretty far," Hammond said.

Burgess, who also was third in the 400, was joined as an individual regional qualifier by Evan Betts (300 hurdles), Josh Stevens (long jump) and Joe Taranto (1,600).

Taranto was happy he reached his goal of making it to the regional.

"It was a fast pace throughout the whole race," Taranto said. "I tried getting out faster than I have all year and did by a couple seconds and that helped. Making it out to the regional is what I wanted."

At a glance

Below are the regional qualifiers for the Central boys and girls track and field teams with district event, place and time/distance/height:

BOYS -- Evan Betts: 300 hurdles (fourth, 40.88); Ron Burgess: 400 (third, 51.0); Josh Stevens: long jump (third, 20-9 1/4); Joe Taranto: 1,600 (third, 4:28.95); 800 relay: Burgess, Tyler Hammond, Malcolm Pannell, Patrick White (fourth, 1:30.5); 3,200 relay: Michael Beal, Jordan Miller, Taranto, Kyle Wood (third, 8:16.3)

GIRLS -- Abena Boamah-Acheampong: high jump (second, 5-4); Amber Burwell: shot put (first, 40-3); Deja Cagle: long jump (second, 17-7); Christina Gagliardo: pole vault (first, 10-9); Jalisa Jarrett: 400 (second, 58.85); Kelsey Kuzmic: 100 hurdles (first, 14.62), 300 hurdles (first, 44.37), high jump (first, 5-6); Kaitlyn Meyer: 3,200 (second, 11:45.65); Kaitlin Peters: 800 (second, 2:22); 400 relay: Cagle, Elizabeth England, Jasmine Greene, Bonnise Ragins (fourth, 50.83); 800 relay: Cagle, Allison Hammond, Jarrett, Ragins (second, 1:45.74); 1,600 relay: Greene, Jarrett, Peters, Jordon Robinson (second, 4:00.98)