Despite being a freshman, Nick Gray knew he had to show the maturity of an upperclassman when he decided to run in the final of the 1,600-meter relay for the Pickerington High School North boys track and field team during the Division I, district 3 meet May 19 at Hilliard Darby.

Despite being a freshman, Nick Gray knew he had to show the maturity of an upperclassman when he decided to run in the final of the 1,600-meter relay for the Pickerington High School North boys track and field team during the Division I, district 3 meet May 19 at Hilliard Darby.

After overcoming a tight hamstring to take third in the 400 (50.48 seconds), Gray could have chosen to be substituted for in the final of the 1,600 relay.

He elected to stick it out and helped the relay, which also included senior Derek Frebault, junior Desmond Palmer and sophomore Trey Browder, turn in a third-place finish (3:21.21).

That foursome was among a large contingent that led the Panthers to their first district title.

"It was hard because I tightened up a couple times," said Gray, whose time in the 400 was a personal best. "(Coach Dave Spring) said that if I don't run the (1,600 relay final) that it would be questionable whether I'd get to run it at the regional, so I just dealt with the pain. It feels good."

North scored 127.5 points to win the district 3 meet as 15 teams scored. The top four in each event advanced to the regional that began May 23 and concludes Friday, May 25, on the Panthers' home track.

The top four in each regional event qualify for the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.

Capturing district championships were John Harris in the high jump (6 feet, 6 inches), Kyle Mushill in the discus (164-0) and Palmer in the 110 hurdles (14.61).

"Nick Gray running (50.48) in the 400 was exciting for a freshman," Spring said. "It was nice to get all of our relays out. We scored points in every event. Last year, we just missed (winning a district title) and I think we've been second four times in five years, so I think they were going after it this year."

Central boys tie for second at district

Central boys coach Jason Roach knew it was going to be a close battle for second between his team and Lancaster in the district 2 meet at Darby.

That turned out to be a correct assessment. The Tigers and Golden Gales each scored 90 points to share runner-up honors as 16 teams scored and New Albany (100.5) won the title.

In the 1,600 relay, the Tigers placed sixth (3:26.09) while Lancaster took fourth (3:25.2) to forge the tie.

A strong performance in the field events May 15 put Central in position. Although the only event the Tigers won was the 400 relay (42.34) of Max Barjona, Garrett Foster, Sebastian Smith and Marcus Milton, they scored 37 points in field events.

One of the few disappointments for Central came when its 800 relay of Barjona, Milton, Billy Eakins and Andrew Meyers dropped the baton and did not place after having the sixth-best preliminary time.

Davion Bowers, who was 12th in the shot put at state last year, took third at district in the shot put (54-3 1/2) and added a runner-up finish in the discus (164-1).

"We had somebody qualify in every field event," Roach said. "We dropped the baton in the (800 relay) but we really scored big after that."

Central girls earn runner-up finish

The Central girls also earned a district runner-up trophy.

In the district 2 meet, the Tigers scored 93.5 points to finish behind Hilliard Davidson (101.5) as 17 teams scored.

"They've all been running well," coach Robb Hammond said. "They really stepped up (during preliminaries May 16) to put themselves in position."

Capturing a district title for the Tigers was Ada Burley in the discus (122-10), and she also was second in the shot put (40-2).

The busiest athlete at regional for Central will be sophomore Shalon Conley, who was fourth in the 100 (12.81), second in the 200 (26.14) and also ran on the 800 relay that was second (1:43.73) at district.

The district meet was a form of retribution for senior Mallory Wyrick, who was runner-up in the pole vault (10-0). She settled for fifth at district a year ago.

"I was really close on my second attempt (at 10-3)," Wyrick said. "It's really good to make it (to regional). It's what I've worked for all season."

North girls place third at district

The field events have been a strength for the North girls all season, and that trend continued in the district 1 meet.

The Panthers placed third (69) behind Dublin Coffman (141) and Canal Winchester (97) as 15 teams scored. They advanced five athletes to the regional.

Senior Jasmine Simmons won a district title in the discus (124-4) and added a runner-up finish in the shot put (39-9).

Among the others to move on was Carlie Goodchild, who was second in the pole vault (10-0).

Kristen Eisenhauer was in contention for a regional berth throughout the 1,600 but settled for fifth (5:03.73). The 3,200 relay of Eisenhauer, Gabby Bobadilla, Fayth Greegor and Sinclair Stockard also was fifth (9:51.47).

"We knew this district was good," coach Jim Langenderfer said. "Jasmine Simmons (had a great meet) and for Carlie Goodchild to come in and get second in the pole vault, your seniors really can do it for you."