During his more than three decades as Reynoldsburg High School boys tennis coach, Mark Mathias believes he has been fortunate that most of his athletes have been good students.
His current group is strong in the classroom and on the court.
The Raiders again will be led by senior Cameron Raglin, a two-time Division I state singles qualifier who is back at first singles and is among several key returnees.
Reynoldsburg opened April 2 by beating Fisher Catholic 5-0, but its OCC-Ohio Division opener April 3 against Lancaster was postponed. It played Watkins Memorial on April 7.
"(Raglin's) put in a lot of offseason time," said Mathias, who is in his 32nd season. "A player of his caliber works hard throughout the year, and he's also a really good student, too. The good thing about being a tennis coach is that you get a big group of excellent students."
Raglin was runner-up in last year's league tournament, then won a sectional title and took third at district. He then lost 6-2, 6-1 in his first-round state match to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's Aaron Sandberg, who went on to place second.
Raglin also lost his opening state match in 2012.
Senior Yosef Maher returns after taking third at third singles in the league tournament. Also back are seniors Zach Kahl and Raymond Truong, who were fifth in the league in first doubles, and seniors Isaac Kahn and Bryn Bell, who were third in the league in second doubles.
Junior Nick Seals and freshman Malcolm Kirksey are others looking to contribute.
The only player lost from last year's team, which went 12-6 overall and placed third in the OCC-Ohio (5-2, 57 points), was 2013 graduate Brandon Person, who was runner-up in the league at second singles.
Maher beat Person 6-1, 6-2 to take third at sectional, and both players then lost first-round district matches.
"With so many returning players with experience, that will give us an edge," Mathias said. "It's just a matter of using it out on the court."
Wallace to lead girls track team
During the final year of the girls track and field team's run of four consecutive Division I state titles in 2012, Leah Wallace made her first appearance at state in the 3,200 meters.
She followed that up with another state berth a year ago and is back to build on that finish in her junior season this spring.
Wallace, who took 13th in in the 3,200 (11 minutes, 34.78 seconds) at state last year, is the only girl remaining in the program who competed in the 2012 state meet.
"This is the first year we don't have a state champion or runner-up coming back since 2007," second-year coach Richard Ladowitz said. "We've had a boy or girl state champion or runner-up every year since then. It's kind of an unusual position for us."
Wallace won the 1,600 (5:14.92) and the 3,200 (11:56.27) in the OCC-Ohio meet last year. Then in the district 2 meet, Wallace was second in the 3,200 (11:28.87) and junior Ivana Woods-Murphy placed fourth in the shot put (34 feet, 4 3/4 inches).
At regional, Wallace won the 3,200 (11:12.3) and Woods-Murphy was 16th in the shot put (30-9).
Also looking to contribute are sophomore sprinters Brianna Barber, Finesse Jones, Gloria Opoku, Cymone Rodgers and Kuziah Smith.
The girls opened by scoring 18 points to place last in the six-team Hammond Relays on March 31 at Pickerington Central behind champion Gahanna (126). The Raiders were 12th (24) in the Wildcat Premier on April 5 at Hilliard Davidson behind champion Gahanna (147) as 16 teams scored.
Diamond Gause, a 2013 graduate, won titles last year in the league, district and regional meets in the 100 and 200. She followed by winning the state title in the 100 in 11.98 and the 200 in 23.96 as the Raiders scored 20 points to tie Olentangy Orange for fifth behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
Gause now is competing for South Plains College in Levelland, Texas.
Boys track team trying to build depth
The top returnees for the boys track team are junior El Hadj Kamara and sophomore Mark Gooden. Both could compete in sprinting events and relays.
Junior Ashton Dulin, who is new to the program but also plays for the football team, is expected to contribute in the 400 and in hurdles.
Senior Spencer Kershaw should contribute in middle distance.
"Dulin is going to be an overall athlete," Ladowitz said. "I'm disappointed in our numbers this year. We're not going to have a lot of depth, but I think we have some people in certain positions that can go pretty far. We've got some skilled sprinters."
Junior Christian Snyder and freshmen Hunter Rich and Warrick Stanford lead the distance corps.
Seniors Shandon Mitchell and Jordan Pryor and sophomore Caleb Holbrook are others in sprinting events.
Freshman Travis Marx is in the long jump, with classmate Tyler Britton likely contributing in the high jump, long jump and throwing events.
The boys opened by scoring 32 points to place last in the five-team Hammond Relays behind champion Pickerington North (116). The Raiders were 13th (20.33) in the Wildcat Premier behind champion Davidson (117) as 16 teams scored.
The Raiders lost Ohio State signee Dominik Seitzer to graduation after he finished second at state in the 800 (1:52.49).
Kamara and Gooden ran on the 1,600 relay that was fourth (3:28.41) in the league meet, and both ran on the same relay that was fourth (3:30.48) in the district 2 meet.