A process that began when Reynoldsburg High School junior Ashton Dulin came out for the boys track and field team for the first time this spring hit a new level in the Division I regional meet May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
Dulin won the OCC-Ohio Division title in the 300-meter hurdles in 39.13 seconds May 17 and captured the district 1 title in the event May 24 in 38.3.
Then on May 30 at regional, he topped those times while earning a runner-up finish in 37.9, just behind Pickerington North's Dairius Ragland (37.79).
"I'm feeling pretty confident," Dulin said.
"I've been really getting my technique down over the hurdles and cutting down on my studder-stepping. It's been a great experience so far."
The state running preliminaries will be held at 4:45 p.m. Friday, June 6, with running finals at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at Ohio State.
Also competing at state will be senior Corey Beal, who took fourth at regional in the shot put (52 feet, 9 1/2 inches). The state boys shot put competition will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7.
The performances of Dulin and Beal helped Reynoldsburg score 20 points to finish 12th at regional behind champion Pickerington North (74) as 37 teams scored.
Beal, who won a district title with a personal-best 53-2 1/4 on May 22, secured his state berth on his first attempt.
He also had throws of 51 1-1/2 and 51-5.
Also placing but failing to advance was sophomore Mark Gooden, who took fifth in the discus (145-8).
Gooden opened regional competition with a throw of 135-4 and also threw 142-4 on his third attempt, but a blister on his right throwing hand hindered him toward the end of the event.
He came less than two feet away from fourth-place finisher Daniel Plescia of New Albany (147-0).
"I ripped the blister open and did my last two throws after it ripped open," Gooden said.
"It's been a crazy time. It's good to see the hard work pay off with me getting (to regional).
Dulin added a sixth-place finish in the 110 hurdles (14.83).
Also competing were the 400 relay of Dulin, seniors Chase Gerhardt and Shandon Mitchell and freshman Travis Marx (11th, 43.9) and the 800 relay of Marx, Mitchell, sophomore Caleb Holbrook and freshman Jalen Duncan (11th, 1:31.37).
Marx fouled on each of his four attempts in the long jump. He took third at district by clearing 21-7, which would have been good for third at regional.
Season ends for girls track team
The girls track team didn't have any state qualifiers as it tied for 34th (4) at regional behind champion Pickerington Central (75) as 41 teams scored.
The top finisher for the Raiders was sophomore Gloria Opoku, who took fifth in the 100 hurdles (14.84) as Zanesville's Tiara Wiggins ran 14.6 to earn the final state berth.
"I'm the only one of our sprinters (to reach the regional)," Opoku said.
"Last year I was just here watching my team and I'm really happy to be able to run at the regional. My coaches really trained me really hard for my hurdles and even took me out of some of the relays so I could concentrate on them."
Junior Leah Wallace, a two-time state qualifier in the 3,200 who won the regional a year ago, finished 15th in the event in 12:55.89.
Junior Ivana Woods-Murphy, who also was a regional qualifier a year ago, took 15th in the shot put (32-1/4).
Opoku added a 12th-place finish in the 300 hurdles (48.43).
Boys tennis team losing nine seniors
Boys tennis coach Mark Mathias is looking forward to seeing how junior Cameron Raglin responds after he came up short of advancing to the Division I state tournament. He made it to state each of his first two seasons.
Raglin won his third consecutive sectional title May 17 at home but lost to Dublin Coffman's Bryan Yoshino 6-4, 6-0 in a first-round district match May 23 at Hilliard Davidson.
"He's got a huge weapon with his good defense and the way he moves," Mathias said.
Raglin won't have as much experience around him next year.
The Raiders lose nine seniors, including Yosef Maher, who lost to Hilliard Bradley's Mitchell Thai 6-1, 6-1 in his first-round district match.
While Raglin beat St. Charles' Evan Yakubov 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 to win a sectional title, Maher lost to Teays Valley's Brad Strawser 6-4, 6-3 to finish fourth at sectional.
Also competing in singles at sectional was senior Isaac Khan, who lost to Strawser 6-0, 6-0 in a district-qualifying match.
Senior Bryn Bell and freshman Malcolm Kirksey lost in the second round in doubles at sectional, as did the team of seniors Zach Kahl and Raymond Truong.
The Raiders went 11-6 overall and tied Gahanna for second (5-2) in the OCC-Ohio behind Pickerington North (7-0). Lancaster and Pickerington Central both finished 4-3, followed by Grove City (2-5), Newark (1-6) and Groveport (0-7).
The league tournaments were canceled because of bad weather.
Junior Nick Seals and freshmen Zach Starkey and Brian Truong are others eligible to return.
"We're probably going to build with Cameron and Malcolm, and Nick Seals is another junior who saw some varsity time," Mathias said. "We had nine seniors altogether and five were valedictorians in their class."