Westland High School track and field coach Tim Eckard always looks forward to this time of the season.
The Cougars competed in the OCC-Central Division meet May 15 and 17 at Thomas Worthington and now have turned their attention to the Division I, district 1 meet this week at Hilliard Darby.
The running preliminaries will be held Tuesday, May 20, followed by the field events Thursday, May 22, and the running finals Saturday, May 24. The top four finishers in each event qualify for regional May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
"For the kids, a lot of their hard work finally pays off," Eckard said. "You always get some kids that surprise you and pull a time or pull a throw out. You hope that you roll the dice and push them at the right time and pull back at the right time. I love this time of year. It's good competition."
For the boys team, wheelchair competitor Tim Bailey already has qualified for the state meet June 6 and 7 at Ohio State in the 100, 400 and 800 meters. The senior qualified for state based on his performances in regular-season meets, as there are no wheelchair events at district or regional.
Last season marked the first time wheelchair events were included at state. Bailey competed in three of the four events, winning the 100 (17.28 seconds) by beating nine other competitors and placing second in both the 400 (1:01.96) and 800 (2:13.76). He did not compete in the shot put.
Last year, Bailey became the school's first state qualifier since 2002, when Kyle Echols finished second in the 200 (21.88).
Heading into district, Eckard believed the boys 400 relay of Abdul Diallo, Erick Martinez, Giann Martinez and Connor Scott and sophomores Donna Mayhew (800) and Colynn Taylor (shot put/discus) of the girls team had the best chances to advance to regional.
Mayhew was aiming to break the program record in the 800 (2:23.5), set by Leigh Sullivan in 1984. Entering district, her personal best in the event was 2:30.
"That's going to take some work, but I would never tell her no," Eckard said. "She's a good, hard worker, a great kid. It's going to take a lot to get to that record. But if anyone can do it, she can do it."
Mayhew credits Eckard for the progress she's made on the track.
"He's amazing," she said. "He's supportive and he helps us out."
Entering district, Taylor's personal-best throws were 97 feet, 6 inches in the discus and 30-4 in the shot put.
"Colynn has thrown well (in the discus) in practice," Eckard said. "If she just gets that right throw, right day, right wind and maybe some of the top kids have an off day, she could sneak in (the top four) and advance as a sophomore. That would take some work for her. Same thing in (the) shot (put)."
Softball team falls in tourney opener
The softball team lost to 36th-seeded Newark 22-7 in five innings in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 13.
Savannah Badillo and Hannah Matheny both hit a solo home run and Kaylee Barber hit a two-run homer for 43rd-seeded Westland, which finished 2-23. Newark scored eight runs in the second inning and 12 in the fourth.
"We had a few setbacks in the second inning defensively that took the wind out of us," coach Kerry Maher said. "We had three over-the-fence home runs."
The Cougars' run total against Newark was their fourth highest for the season. They posted their two highest totals in wins over Columbus West (22-5 on April 19) and Beechcroft (17-0 on April 1) and their third highest in a loss to Reynoldsburg (16-9 on April 12).
Tennis team competes in sectional tourney
The boys tennis team competed in a Division I sectional May 16 and 17 at Hilliard Davidson.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district, which will be held Friday, May 23, and Saturday, May 24, at Davidson. The top four placers at district qualify for state May 30 and 31 at Ohio State.
Westland was scheduled to compete in the seventh-place OCC tournament May 10 at Westerville Central, but the event was canceled because of bad weather.
The Cougars, who lost three of their last four matches, finished the regular season 8-11 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Central. Their lone league victory came against Central Crossing, 3-2 on April 24.
Westland went 1-2 last week, defeating Groveport 3-2 on May 13 but losing to West 5-0 on May 12 and Whetstone 3-2 on May 14.
The Cougars swept the singles courts against visiting Groveport, with Peer Brendler winning 6-0, 6-0 at first singles, Bryan Moreno winning 6-1, 6-0 at second singles and Roman Novikov winning 7-6, 6-4 at third singles.
Baseball team loses to top-seeded Thomas
The baseball team lost to top-seeded Thomas Worthington 10-0 in six innings in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 14.
Both teams had a first-round bye.
Westland, which was seeded 45th of 45 teams, finished 0-24.
The Cougars trailed 1-0 after the first inning and 4-0 after two innings. The Cardinals added two runs in the third, three in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Westland managed only two hits against the Cardinals, with Zach Riley and Daniel McBee each hitting a single.
"This team hasn't given up all year," said 11th-year coach Dave Daniels, who announced that he is resigning because of family commitments. "They play hard all the time. I'm real proud of them."