Playing in the Division I state tournament for the first time a year ago was unlike anything Reynoldsburg High School boys tennis player Cameron Raglin had experienced before.
"Last year I was shaking and I had butterflies in my stomach," he said.
Now a sophomore and set to make his second state appearance, Raglin is expecting to respond differently when he steps onto the court Friday, May 31, at Ohio State. The state tournament concludes the next day at the same site.
"It's my second year going now, and I'm really excited," Raglin said. "I think I'm more prepared this time. I'm trying to play more aggressively than I did last year."
Raglin enters state after earning his second consecutive third-place finish in the district tournament, where the top four in singles and doubles advanced.
Raglin opened district May 24 at Hilliard Davidson by beating New Albany freshman Harrison Lippy 6-0, 6-0. He then defeated Upper Arlington freshman Eric Hunter 6-4, 6-3 to qualify for state.
On May 25, Raglin lost to UA's Stu Little 6-1, 6-0 in a semifinal but beat New Albany senior Rathnakishore Giri 6-2, 6-2 in the third-place match.
"Little puts you in tough situations and doesn't give you a bunch of freebies," Raiders coach Mark Mathias said.
Last season, Raglin lost to eventual champion Colton Buffington of Westlake 6-4, 6-2 in his state opener.
Gahanna senior Canyon Teague, who lost to Little 7-5, 6-3 for the district title, fell to Perrysburg's Jeffrey Schorsch 6-0, 6-1 in his state opener last year. Little lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's Aaron Sandberg 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.
Schorsch is back at state as a senior and Sandberg returns as a junior. Sandberg beat Schorsch in the third-place state match last season.
Raglin opens state against Sandberg.
"I've never played Schorsch but I've played Aaron Sandberg, and it's always a close match," Raglin said. "Those are some really good players who I look forward to seeing."
"(Raglin) got the most points off the eventual champion (at state) a year ago," Mathias said. "He had a lousy draw. At this point, it's about who takes advantage of your points better."
Also at district May 24, senior Brandon Person lost to Teague 6-0, 6-2 and junior Yosef Maher lost to Groveport senior Forrest Baldwin 6-2, 6-3 in first-round matches.
"(Person had) a tough day, but he played a lot of good points," Mathias said.
Seitzer, relay advance for boys track team
A trio of young athletes put the boys track and field team's 1,600-meter relay in position to advance from the Division I, district 2 meet, and a senior completed the job May 25 at Hilliard Darby.
After sophomores El Hadj Kamara and Jacob Cicak and freshman Mark Gooden had the Raiders hovering between fourth and fifth, senior Dominik Seitzer helped them finish in 3 minutes, 29.1 seconds and edge Franklin Heights (3:30.48) for fourth and the final regional-qualifying berth.
Davidson won the event in 3:22.17.
It's the first regional appearance for Kamara, Cicak and Gooden.
"I can't believe it," Cicak said. "It's great. It was just an opportunity to go to the regional and we just had to go out and do it."
The regional meet began May 29 and concludes Friday, May 31, at Pickerington North. The top four in each event advance to the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
"We ran (the same four) at Springboro (on April 26) and got first place and we were second at Teays Valley (on May 11)," Kamara said. "(Seitzer) means a lot to us because he ran (in) 49 something (seconds). He does that, and sometimes he'll also have to go out and run the (1,600) and the 800. Every time when he's done he says, 'I'm going to go sleep now.' "
Seitzer also advanced to regional in the 800 after winning a district title in 1:53.79.
The Raiders' performances in those two events helped them earn an eighth-place tie with Columbus East and Grove City (22) behind champion Davidson (140) as 15 teams scored.
Girls track team sending 5 to regional
Cherese Nimmons is graduating early this spring and will attend Seminole State College in Florida, where she plans to major in biomedical science.
Her prep track career, which included competing on the girls state-champion 1,600 relay a year ago, was extended by an additional week when she took third in the 400 (59.34) in the district 2 meet May 25.
Nimmons is one of five girls to advance to regional for the Raiders.
"I'm not disappointed," she said. "I wish we had a little more depth so that we could have defended some of our titles this year like in the (800 and 1,600 relays), but other than that, it's been all right."
Advancing to regional by winning a pair of district titles was senior Diamond Gause in the 100 (12.03) and 200 (24.29).
Sophomore Leah Wallace was second at district in the 3,200 (11:28.87), senior Kiara Chatman was fourth in the 200 (25.94) and sophomore Ivana Woods-Murphy was fourth in the shot put (34 feet, 4 3/4 inches) to also advance.
Just missing out on advancing were sophomore Courtney Purtell, who was fifth in the high jump (4-10), and the 800 relay of Nimmons, Chatman, junior Imani Evans and freshman Bryanna Barber (fifth, 1:47.13).
Gause won the 100, 200 and 400 in the OCC-Ohio Division meet May 18 but did not compete in the 400 at district.
"They only wanted me to do the 400 at OCC for points," she said.
"I always did relays and never did a lot of individual events in the past. This is a big thing for me doing so well in individual races."