Freshman Michael Ballentine of the Pickerington High School North boys track and field team already was battling nerves when the pressure of the final minutes of the high jump really started to get heavy.

Freshman Michael Ballentine of the Pickerington High School North boys track and field team already was battling nerves when the pressure of the final minutes of the high jump really started to get heavy.

In fifth place heading into an attempt at 6 feet, 3 inches, Ballentine cleared the height May 22 in the Division I district 1 meet at Dublin Coffman and finally began to relax.

He then cleared both 6-4 and 6-5 to capture the district championship.

"I was scared, but my coach (assistant Albert Chappelear) just got me fired up," said Ballentine, who had cleared 6-5 one other time in a meet. "He was just like, 'Get angry, get angry.' When I got 6-3 I got pumped up, and then when I got 6-4 I wasn't as nervous. I just can't go in there all nervous like I was (May 22)."

Ballentine was joined in the regional meet, which began last Wednesday and concludes Friday at Hilliard Davidson, by four other individuals and one relay from North.

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

The district meet had its share of frustrating moments for the Panthers, as they took fifth in the 400-, 800- and 3,200-meter relays, but ended on a high note last Saturday.

Nathan Corder and Daniel Garleb took the top two spots in the 3,200, Then the 1,600 relay added a runner-up finish to help the Panthers score 74 points to edge Olentangy (72) for second behind Gahanna (142.5).

After he placed sixth in the 110 hurdles (15.8 seconds), senior Patrick Hazelwood recovered to earn fourth in the 300 hurdles (39.63).

"I didn't have a very good start, but I just saw someone trying to pass me so I got my focus back on the race and finished strong (in the 300 hurdles)," Hazelwood said. "I thought we gave it our best shot as a team."

ēNot knowing where exactly her team was in the girls standings last Saturday against defending district champion Reynoldsburg, junior Shiara Robinson focused on what she could control entering the 200 final in district 3 at Coffman.

She did her part, winning in 24.91 to edge Reynoldsburg's Timia Ingram (25.16), but it wasn't enough as the Panthers ended up second (120.33) behind Reynoldsburg (135) for the second year in a row.

As much of a motivating factor as trying to help the Panthers win the team title for Robinson was what happened last year in the regional when she failed to make the final in the 200.

"I went out at the regional last year, and it was extremely devastating," Robinson said.

"Sometimes you've got to go for it individually first. Honestly, I was extremely nervous, but I was thinking that this was my last race of the day and that I needed to go all out."

Robinson also competed on the 400 relay that finished first and on the 800 relay that was second.

Freshman Bria Booker, who was the second leg of the 800 relay and also ran on the 400 relay, believed the Panthers could have won the 800 relay after finishing with the best preliminary time in the event, but wasn't disappointed overall.

"It looks really good," Booker said of the relay. "I think we're all just really close and we work really well together."

At a glance

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

BOYS -- Michael Ballentine: high jump (first, 6-5); Nathan Corder: 3,200 (first, 9:33.71); Daniel Garleb: 3,200 (second, 9:36.88); Patrick Hazelwood: 300 hurdles (fourth, 39.63); Jon Tims: 400 (third, 49.87); 1,600 relay: Pat Effinger, Ryan Hunt, Patrick Lee, Tims (second, 3:24.9)

GIRLS -- Bria Booker: long jump (third, 16-6 1/2); Samie Corbin: 100 hurdles (first, 15.13), 300 hurdles (first, 45.41), long jump (second, 16-10); Jordan Gardner: 100 (third, 12.23); Meggie Hanzlik: pole vault (second, 9-6); Zena Kolliesuah: 100 (first, 12.09); Karissa Magnuson: 1,600 (second, 5:19.52); Shiara Robinson: 200 (first, 24.91); Taylor Stitt: discus (fourth, 103-9); 400 relay: Booker, Gardner, Kolliesuah, Robinson (first, 49.26); 800 relay: Booker, Gardner, Kolliesuah, Robinson (second, 1:41.93); 1,600 relay: Booker, Corbin, Kolliesuah, Emily Shevelow (second, 4:03.75)