The last two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for sophomore Leah Wallace of the Reynoldsburg High School girls track and field team.
In the Division I state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State, she improved on her performance from a year ago in the 3,200 meters but left wanting more after placing 13th in 11 minutes, 34.78 seconds.
"I'm going to take a couple weeks off, but I'm struggling already because I want to get back out there and run," said Wallace, who will be the program's most experienced returnee next season. "I want to hit it hard and start working out later in the summer. My focus is to improve on my times, and this summer I'm going to be working on my form and my breathing. We've just got to focus on my mental strategy."
The intensity that Wallace displays is exactly what first-year coach Richard Ladowitz hopes can infuse a program that will enter next season led by athletes who were freshmen and sophomores this spring.
Wallace finished 15th at state in the 3,200 as a freshman.
This spring, she won the 1,600 (5:14.92) and 3,200 (11:56.27) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet May 16 and 18 at Thomas Worthington as the Raiders placed fourth (78) behind Gahanna (177.5), Pickerington Central (141) and Pickerington North (116.5) and ahead of Lancaster (46.5), Grove City (43.5), Newark (35) and Groveport (21).
Leading the way for the Raiders in the league meet and throughout the postseason were Wallace and senior Diamond Gause, who won league titles in the 100 (12.03), 200 (25.01) and 400 (57.42).
In the 17-team district 2 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, Gause won the 100 (12.03) and 200 (24.29), Wallace placed second in the 3,200 (11:28.87), senior Kiara Chatman placed fourth in the 200 (25.94), senior Cherese Nimmons was third in the 400 (59.34) and sophomore Ivana Woods-Murphy was fourth in the shot put (34 feet, 4 3/4 inches).
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, where Gause won titles in the 100 (11.85) and 200 (24.06) and Wallace won the 3,200 (11:12.3).
Reynoldsburg scored 34 points at regional to finish sixth behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to state.
Gause followed with state championships in the 100 (11.98) and 200 (23.96) to help the Raiders score 20 points to tie Olentangy Orange for fifth behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
Reynoldsburg had won the previous four state titles.
Others expected to return include Woods-Murphy, junior sprinters Imani Evans and Ramiah Thornhill, sophomore high-jumper Courtney Purtell and freshmen sprinters Brianna Barber, Gloria Opoku, Cymone Rodgers, Zeqari Severance and Kuziah Smith.
Boys team expects to be young in 2014
The boys team loses its top competitor in senior distance runner and Ohio State-signee Dominik Seitzer.
The Raiders' only state qualifier, Seitzer finished second in the 800 (1:52.49) to score eight points as Reynoldsburg tied for 26th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
Seitzer was third in the 800 (1:53.28) at regional as Reynoldsburg tied for 26th (6) behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Also at regional, the 1,600 relay of Seitzer, sophomores El Hadj Kamara and Jacob Cicak and freshman Mark Gooden placed 12th (3:31.56).
In the 16-team district 2 meet, Seitzer won the 800 (1:53.79) and the 1,600 relay finished fourth (3:30.48) as the Raiders scored 22 points to tie for eighth behind champion Hilliard Davidson (140).
In the OCC-Ohio meet, Seitzer won the 1,600 (4:19.64), placed sixth in the 800 (2:03.7), was on the 1,600 relay that placed fourth (3:28.41) and teamed with sophomores Michael Crider, Jalen Jones and Christian Snyder in the 3,200 relay that was sixth (8:30.26).
Reynoldsburg finished seventh (26) in the league meet, behind Pickerington North (202), Pickerington Central (99), Gahanna (98), Lancaster (90), Groveport (67) and Newark (54) and ahead of Grove City (19).
Among those expected to return are Cicak, Crider, Gooden, Jones, Kamara, Snyder and freshmen sprinters Chris Cochenour, Caleb Holbrook, Sam Shaheen and Quincy Young.