The potential could be there for another strong season for the Pickerington High School Central girls track and field team.

The potential could be there for another strong season for the Pickerington High School Central girls track and field team.

Of the 10 athletes who competed in the Division I state meet last year for the Tigers, five have returned.

Most of those returnees previously played more complementary roles, but that should change after the Tigers won league and district titles a year ago.

"We're pretty young," said coach Robb Hammond, who is in his fifth season. "We only have eight seniors. We lost a lot of kids. We're young, but they're working hard. We actually have 18 returning letterwinners, so that's a good nucleus."

Returnees who competed at state last season are seniors Aubrey Burwell and Santele Smith and sophomores Morgan Richardson, Cortisha Short and Elizabeth Weed.

Richardson ran on the 1,600-meter relay that finished fifth (3 minutes, 54.39 seconds) at state, joining 2011 graduates Jasmine Greene, Jalisa Jarrett and Jordan Robinson. Short joined Greene, Jarrett and 2011 graduate Elizabeth England on the 800 relay that was eighth (1:42.23).

The five points scored by the relays gave Central a tie for 35th with seven other teams behind champion Reynoldsburg (47).

Burwell competed at state in the discus and placed 15th (106 feet, 4 inches). Richardson, Smith and Weed ran on the 16th-place 3,200 relay (9:44.55) with 2011 graduate Kaitlyn Meyer.

Other seniors are Ada Burley (shot put), Kendal Richmond (hurdles, long jump) and Mallory Wyrick (pole vault).

On March 22 in the indoor state meet at the University of Akron, the 800 relay of junior Brianna Johnson, sophomores Shalon Conley and Tyler Williams and freshman Edwina Barnett finished sixth (1:46.03).

The Tigers opened the outdoor season March 24 by scoring 84 points to win the home Hammond Relays ahead of Pickerington North (83), Westerville South (63), Canal Winchester (54), Reynoldsburg (54), Lancaster (51) and Marysville (40).

The Tigers won last year's OCC-Ohio Division meet with 159 points, ahead of North (140.5), Reynoldsburg (116), Gahanna (97.5), Lancaster (73), Groveport (31), Newark (23) and Grove City (15).

Central then was first in the district 2 meet with 126 points before placing fourth (41) in the regional won by Reynoldsburg (88).

At district, Burley was first (35-1/4) in the shot put and Richmond was third (15.81) in the 100 hurdles and third (15-5 3/4) in the long jump.

Jarrett and Meyer each are competing for the University of Cincinnati, Greene is running for Detroit Mercy and England is competing for Ohio Dominican. Alli Hammond, a 2011 graduate who competed in the pole vault, is walking on at Ohio State.

"We had a lot of seniors graduate who gave us a lot of senior leadership, so that's something that we've tried to impress on this year's seniors," coach Hammond said. "We have 46 kids, so our numbers are a little down, but I'm very happy with how hard they're working. I think some of our young kids are going to step up."

Strong senior class brings excitement to boys team

Boys coach Jason Roach believes his senior class will provide the program with more success than a year ago.

The top returnee is senior Davion Bowers, who placed 12th (53-8 3/4) at state last year in the shot put. He was fifth (54-2 1/4) in this year's state indoor meet.

Also providing optimism are senior newcomers Sebastian Smith and Marcus Milton. According to Roach, both will run in sprinting events, and Smith also could be a contributor in the long jump and high jump.

Junior Gemel Trent is back after running on the 1,600 relay that placed 11th (3:22.76) at state.

Senior Billy Eakins should join Trent on the 1,600 relay.

Senior Max Barjona should contribute in sprinting events. He competed for Harvest Prep as a freshman, was at Central as a sophomore and attended Pickerington North last season but did not compete because of an injury, according to Roach.

As a sophomore for the Tigers, Barjona was a regional qualifier in the 100.

Also looking to contribute are senior distance-runners Michael Gase, Brennan McCotter and Mason Prater and junior hurdlers Tynan Douglas and Nathan Kosnich.

Central opened by finishing second (68) in the Hammond Relays behind North (110) and ahead of Lancaster (66), Westerville South (59), Reynoldsburg (58), Canal Winchester (50) and Marysville (23).

"If we can stay healthy, we've got a few kids," said Roach, who coached Central from 2004-08 and returned last season. "This is probably the best senior class we've had in a while."

Last season, Central was fifth (80) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind North (156), Reynoldsburg (107), Gahanna (92) and Lancaster (83) and ahead of Newark (55), Groveport (50.5) and Grove City (27.5).

The Tigers then were fifth (70.67) in the district 3 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (116.5) and tied St. Charles and Big Walnut for 15th (21) at regional behind co-champions Westerville North and Thomas Worthington (37).

Grant Hammond, who tied for eighth (14-0) in the pole vault and also ran on the 1,600 relay at state, now is competing for Miami University. Others lost to graduation were Michael Jamar-Brown, Kenny Johnson and David Stephens.

"We're not going to do real well in a dual meet, but it should be better than what it's been the last few years," Roach said.