On April 20 in the Dublin Classic at Coffman, Pickerington High School Central senior Nathan Kosnich reached the top of the awards podium in an invitational for the first time this season.
As recently as two years ago, that would have seemed unfathomable to coach Jason Roach.
"He was so bad as a sophomore," Roach said.
While those words might seem harsh, Kosnich acknowledges he doesn't resemble the athlete who finished last of 15 runners in the 110-meter hurdles (19.42 seconds) in the Division I, district 3 meet as a sophomore.
"When I first started, I wasn't very good, but I always loved track," he said. "I wasn't the most coordinated guy, but I was so tired of losing."
Fueled by that desire and after watching his cousins, Dublin Scioto junior Derrick Agbaike and Scioto freshman Elo Agbaike, begin to pick up the nuances of track, Kosnich got serious about his approach.
"I saw I needed to start working harder," he said. "I would go home and watch a bunch of (YouTube) videos about hurdles and just loved the hurdles. I'd watch Aries Merritt, who is the current world record holder (in the 110 hurdles). A lot of my (improvement) has come from watching drills."
By the end of last spring, Kosnich had become one of central Ohio's best in the 110 hurdles.
He earned a runner-up finish (15.59) in the district 2 meet before settling for 13th (16.29) in the regional meet.
His time at regional was well below his personal best of 15.06.
He also recently ran a personal-best 42.39 in the 300 hurdles.
On March 16 in the indoor state meet at the University of Akron, Kosnich finished ninth (8.51) in the 60 hurdles.
He had the best preliminary time in the 110 hurdles (15.67) during the Dublin Classic and ran 15.4 in the final to easily win the championship.
Kosnich added a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles (43.79) to score 14 points for Central, which placed third (80) in a 13-team field behind Hilliard Davidson (133.5) and Brunswick (99).
"He wasn't a talent (as a sophomore) but was just maybe the most hardworking kid," Roach said. "We've never had a kid work that hard. He went to summer track, studied it and watched hours of film. ... He helped us almost win a district title last year. He's just a self-taught, hardworking kid. It shows that if you want to be good, you can be good."
Kosnich, who is considering a scholarship offer from the University of Rio Grande, was one of three champions for the Tigers in the Dublin Classic.
Senior Alex Nichols won the discus (149 feet, 8 inches) and was second in the shot put (46-8). Senior Gemel Trent was first in the 400 (50.92).
North boys team continues to roll
There might not be a hotter team in central Ohio than the North boys.
On April 20 in the Vandalia-Butler Invitational, the Panthers scored 169 points to easily win the title as Olentangy Liberty was a distant second (89) and 17 teams scored.
North also has won titles in the Hammond Relays (March 30 at Pickerington Central), the Wildcat Premier (April 6 at Hilliard Davidson) and the Stingel Invitational (April 13 at home).
The Panthers won nine events at Vandalia-Butler, with senior Desmond Palmer capturing the 110 hurdles (14.7) and 300 hurdles (40.37) and running on the first-place 800 relay (1:32.8) and 1,600 relay (3:27.43). Palmer's time in the 110 hurdles and the finish for the 1,600 relay were meet records.
Palmer was joined on the 800 and 1,600 relays by senior Brian Klever, junior Trey Browder and sophomore Lucas Miller.
"I think the thing I'm most happy about is that we've got a group that is so competitive," coach Dave Spring said. "They go hard on every rep in every practice and it shows in meets."
Also winning titles were senior Ronald Bonner in the long jump (20-6 3/4), junior John Harris in the high jump (6-0), junior Kirill Loginov in the pole vault (13-6), the 400 relay of senior Cortez Goodwin, junior Zeph Miller and sophomores Jaye Williams and Bonner (44.28) and the 3,200 relay of seniors Marlon Pugh and Sean Saffle and sophomores Ryan Kronk and Kris Perez (8:20.97). The 3,200 relay broke the meet record.
"For the weather being what it is, the guys are working hard," Spring said. "I have been impressed with some of our young guys. (Senior) Jamie Hence and Ronald Bonner in the long jump are just tearing it up right now. (Sophomore) Zach Zimmerman and Ryan Kronk are distance guys who I like the progress of. Our sprint relays are going well."
Local girls teams have strong meets
Both the North and Central girls teams finished in the upper half of meets last weekend.
The Panthers earned a runner-up finish (102.5) in the Vandalia-Butler Invitational behind Olentangy Liberty (134) as 16 teams scored. The Tigers were fifth (62) in the 14-team Dublin Classic behind champion Brunswick (104.5).
Leading North was junior Annette Echikunwoke, who won the discus (104-6) and was second in the shot put (36-3).
Other top finishers for the Panthers included senior Andrea Hazelwood in the long jump (second, 15-3 1/2), senior Rashelle Myers in the high jump (third, 4-9), the 1,600 relay of seniors Kristen Eisenhauer, Fayth Greegor and Shurelle Stewart and junior Sinclair Stockard (second, 4:25.9) and the 3,200 relay of Eisenhauer, Greegor, Stockard and freshman Kat Lowe (second, 10:12.96).
The Tigers were led by sophomore Dana Shoff, who won the pole vault (10-9), and junior Irene Skinner, who was first in the 200 (26.63).
Other top finishers for Central included junior Kylie Caudill in the high jump (third, 5-1) and junior Tyler Williams in the 400 (third, 1:01.14). In the 100, junior Shalon Conley was second (12.79) and junior Jada Williams took third (12.81).