Senior Destinee Gause of the Reynoldsburg High School girls track and field team has gone from contributing to one of the state's best programs as a freshman to leading the program to its third consecutive state title last spring.

Senior Destinee Gause of the Reynoldsburg High School girls track and field team has gone from contributing to one of the state's best programs as a freshman to leading the program to its third consecutive state title last spring.

The only remaining links to the 2009 team that scored a meet-record 82 points in the Division I state meet at Ohio State are Gause and classmate Faith Washington, and Gause knows it would be special if the Raiders can make it four in a row this season.

The Raiders opened March 24 in the seven-team Hammond Relays at Pickerington Central, scoring 54 points to tie Canal Winchester for fourth behind champion Central (84).

"I'm excited but nervous at the same time," Gause said. "Ever since I've been in high school, I've won state. We need people to step up. We have a lot of people out for the team, but we don't have many (certainties)."

Last season, Reynoldsburg scored 47 points at state to capture the team title. Cincinnati Withrow (39) placed second as 70 teams scored.

Gause won the 200 meters (23.95 seconds) in the state indoor meet March 17 at the University of Akron and has placed first individually or on a relay in nine outdoor state events. Last spring, she won her third consecutive title in the 200 (23.84) and added championships in the 100 (11.82) and 1,600 relay (3:48.78).

Gause signed to run for the University of Florida during the offseason and Washington signed with Vanderbilt University.

Last season, Washington was third in the 300 hurdles (43.58) and fourth in the 100 hurdles (14.52) and ran on the first-place 1,600 relay and third-place 800 relay (1:39.63) at state. She also ran on two relays that won state titles when she was a freshman.

Also back are senior Britany Anderson, juniors Diamond Gause and Yamonie Jenkins and sophomore Cherese Nimmons.

Diamond Gause and Jenkins joined Washington and 2011 graduate Kacia Grant on the 800 relay that took third (1:39.63) at state. Jenkins also joined Destinee Gause, Washington and Grant on the 1,600 relay and teamed with Grant and the Gause sisters on the 400 relay that finished 14th (49.82).

Nimmons finished 15th in the 400 (1:03.31) in the regional meet at Pickerington North as the Raiders scored 88 points to win their first meet title of the season. Dublin Coffman (66) was second, as 40 teams scored.

Also at regional, Diamond Gause was ninth in the 200 (26.6) and Anderson was a qualifier in the shot put but did not compete.

Freshman Leah Wallace should be a key contributor in distance races after finishing 13th (18:35.76) in the Division I state cross country meet last fall.

Others looking to contribute include seniors Kenzie Purtell (distance) and Tierra Stewart (shot put/discus) and juniors Kirsten Boone (distance) and Tonja Johnson (shot put). Johnson and Anderson both advanced to the state indoor meet in the shot put, but neither placed.

The Raiders finished third (116) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet last year, behind Central (159) and North (140.5) and ahead of Gahanna (97.5), Lancaster (73), Groveport (31), Newark (23) and Grove City (15).

Reynoldsburg then placed second (116) in the 11-team district 3 meet at Hilliard Bradley behind Dublin Scioto (139).

Also scoring at state last year was 2011 graduate Donyelle Brown, who placed eighth in the discus (131 feet, 1 inch) and shot put (42-1) and is now competing for Ohio University.

Grant is running for Wright State.

"Our numbers are up," said Denny Hammond, who enters his 14th season coaching the girls team and 18th heading the boys program. "Right now, I'm very pleased with everybody's work ethic. We've got a lot of depth right now. This is as much talent as we've had since (Destinee Gause and Washington) were freshmen."

Hiluf back to lead strong boys team

Hopes also are running high for the boys team, which returns a strong group of distance runners.

Senior Tsehaye Hiluf won the 3,200 in the indoor state meet in a meet-record 9:07.51 and is the defending outdoor state champion in the event after winning in 9:17.09 last June.

Behind Hiluf's 10 points, the Raiders tied six teams for 22nd in the outdoor state meet behind champion Cincinnati LaSalle (36) as 78 teams scored.

Also back after competing at state last spring is senior LaVonne Gauthney, who finished 14th in the shot put (53-4) during his first season with the program. He was a regional qualifier in the discus as well, finished 15th (125-2).

Senior Khalid Omar has competed in the state cross country meet the past three seasons and was seventh in the 1,600 (4:25.75) in the indoor state meet.

Junior Dominik Seitzer returns after finishing seventh in the 1,600 (4:25.77) and eighth in the 800 (1:57.43) at regional last season. He also teamed with Hiluf and 2011 graduates Hiruy Abraha and Peyton Radebaugh in the 3,200 relay that was ninth (8:09.03) at regional.

Senior Johnny Pace is back after winning a league title in the 200 (23.5), as is junior Mykel Traylor Bennett after finishing second (23.51) in the league meet in the same event.

Others looking to contribute include juniors Devon Bollinger (shot put/discus), Dionte Brown (sprints/long jump) and Grant Coleman (sprints).

The Raiders opened March 24 in the Hammond Relays, scoring 58 points to finish fifth of seven teams behind champion Pickerington North (110).

Last season, Reynoldsburg placed second (107) in the OCC-Ohio meet, behind North (156) and ahead of Gahanna (92), Lancaster (83), Central (80), Newark (52), Groveport (50.5) and Grove City (27.5). In the 15-team district 2 meet at Bradley, the Raiders were third (69) behind Hilliard Davidson (109) and Watkins Memorial (70).

Reynoldsburg then scored 19 points at regional to place 18th behind co-champions Thomas Worthington (37) and Westerville North (37) as 39 teams scored. Gauthney was second in the shot put (53-1) and Hiluf took fourth in the 3,200 (9:22.41).

"Tsehaye is the best distance runner in the state and is in unbelievable shape right now," Hammond said. "We know who our stars are. We just need to put some pieces together."