One of the track and field meets that was expected to help Reynoldsburg High School senior Dominik Seitzer prepare for the postseason, the Eastern Relays in Louisville, Ky., took place April 26 and 27.
Seitzer, who turned in a runner-up finish in the 800 meters (1 minute, 55.17 seconds) in Louisville last year, was unable to make the event but wasn't left without something to do.
After it was decided he instead would accompany the Raiders to the Springboro Invitational on April 26, Seitzer returned to an important role -- team leader.
His appearance at Springboro, where he won the 800 (1:56.41) and anchored the winning 1,600 relay (3:30.53), provided an emotional boost to the rest of his team, which consists of mostly freshmen and sophomores.
"He's been a quiet leader on the track for the young kids," coach Richard Ladowitz said. "When the other kids found out that he was coming, their eyes just lit up. ...
"Instead of going down to Louisville for the Eastern Relays, he called me to tell me that his plans didn't work out, so I got him in the open 800 and on the (1,600 relay). It put a nice charge into the rest of the team because they (got) to run with him."
Seitzer is the boys team's most experienced runner after being in a complementary role in past years.
Tsehaye Hiluf, a 2012 graduate, won state championships in the 3,200 the last two seasons and classmate LaVonne Gauthney was sixth in the shot put (57 feet, 11 1/2 inches) at state last year.
Seitzer competed with 2012 graduates Trey Hamilton, Khalid Omar and Hiluf in the 3,200 relay that was sixth (7:53.27) at state last year.
This season, Seitzer is hoping to make it to state in the 800. He was sixth in the regional meet in the 800 (1:55.5) a year ago after winning the district 3 meet (1:53.11).
He was a state qualifier last fall in cross country, finishing 122nd (16:52.47), and added a runner-up finish in the 800 (1:54.32) in the indoor state track meet March 16.
"Coming off the indoor season, I was really confident in how things have been going," Seitzer said. "This year (in the indoor state meet) I ended up as a state runner-up. I've learned a lot from having (former) coach (Denny) Hammond, and he's still coaching me some in workouts. I'm feeling pretty strong and I do think I'm on pace for some (personal-best times)."
Seitzer has seen his success increase since he finished seventh in the 1,600 (4:25.77) and eighth in the 800 (1:57.43) at regional as a sophomore, and being a leader is another role in which he has grown.
"I'm a really shy person and am not really outspoken, so I've had to step up a lot to make sure everyone knows what they're doing," Seitzer said. "In the (1,600 relay March 30) in the Hammond Relays (at Pickerington Central), one of the guys forgot to take off his shorts. He's the anchor leg, and all of a sudden I see that he's wearing these long, yellow basketball shorts. We didn't get disqualified, but we could have.
"I think I'm just a lot stronger this year physically and mentally. I have to run by myself so I have to motivate myself."
The Raiders are off until May 11 when they compete in the Viking Invitational at Teays Valley.
The OCC-Ohio Division meet is May 16 and 18 at Newark.
Last season, the Raiders scored 154 points to win their first league title since 2009. Seitzer ran on the second-place 3,200 relay (8:10.03), was third in the 1,600 (4:21.62) and fourth in the 800 (1:57.05). He also helped the 1,600 relay take third (3:27.37).
In mid-April, Seitzer signed a letter of intent that gave him a partial scholarship to compete at Ohio State. He also considered DePaul, Kent State and North Texas.
"A lot of people don't realize that he's a good athlete," Ladowitz said.
"Coach (Hammond) coached him up when he was a freshman, but he actually used to play baseball with my son (Eliot Ladowitz) when he was younger and you could always count on him getting on base. I saw his speed and thought he was going to be a sprinter, but coach Hammond saw the grit and endurance and saw that he was going to be a cross country runner."