Having athletes with state-meet experience has Westerville North High School track and field coach Johnny Jackson optimistic entering the season.

Having athletes with state-meet experience has Westerville North High School track and field coach Johnny Jackson optimistic entering the season.

The Warriors open Saturday, March 31, in the Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson.

"We're young on both sides," said Jackson, who is in his sixth season as boys coach and eighth season as girls coach. "I do like what I see. I wish I had a few more sprint girls (and) a few more sprinters out on the boys side, too, but other than that, we're doing pretty good. We're pretty young."

The boys team is coming off a strong postseason.

Leading the way should be senior Joey Wilkin and junior Jacob Dumford.

Last season, Wilkin was first in the 110-meter hurdles (15.09 seconds) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet at Pickerington North, second (14.75) in the Division I regional meet at Pickerington North, third (15.09) in the district 1 meet at Hilliard Bradley and 16th (15.14) in the state meet at Ohio State. He also will compete in relays.

"Joey has put the work in," Jackson said. "He's always working. He is probably one of the hardest workers I've ever had."

At state, Dumford was third (1:52.72) in the 800 and ran on the seventh-place 3,200 relay (7:54.58).

Dumford joined 2011 graduates Brian Hannaford, Kevin Ford and Ryan Weldon in winning the 3,200 relay at regional (7:52.05) and district (8:02.8).

"We did so well last year. That definitely helped me get ready and just give me confidence and help me to set high goals this year," Dumford said. "My No. 1 goal is to be the state champion in the 800. Our second biggest goal is probably to take another (3,200 relay) to the state meet for the third year in a row. We have a lot of guys with a lot of potential. Nobody has run anything really fast, but we think there are three or four guys that could potentially be good legs on our (3,200 relay)."

Also looking to contribute are seniors Emmanuel Adu (middle distance/relays) and Norris Freeman (sprints), juniors Nicholas Chatel (middle distance/relays), Kent Ford (distance/relays) and Kevin Schaublin (sprints) and sophomore Andrew Meachum (sprints/hurdles).

"Joey and Jacob were both in the state (meet) last year, so they should be in the state again," Jackson said. "That's a goal, and then everybody else, it's getting them to get good times out and do their best."

Last season, North was fourth (90) in the league meet behind Westerville Central (126.5), Olentangy (104.5) and Olentangy Liberty (102) and ahead of Marysville (72.25), Westerville South (66.25), Dublin Scioto (49.5) and Dublin Jerome (44).

The Warriors finished seventh (52) at district behind champion Thomas Worthington (87), tied Thomas for first (37) at regional and finished in a five-way tie for 30th (8) at state behind champion Cincinnati LaSalle (36).

Pace setting pace for girls team

Jackson is looking to several underclassmen to lead the girls team.

Back is junior sprinter Gabie Pace, who helped the 1,600 relay finish first (4:04.41) in the league meet last season.

"We're looking good so far," Pace said. "We're low in numbers. It would be nice if others would come out, but otherwise, we're doing good and we're working pretty hard right now."

Also returning are junior Sarah Koch (middle distance), who was a member of the 1,600 relay, and junior Kierra Davis (sprints).

Freshmen sisters Haley and Heather Sandvik enjoyed success on the cross country team and are expected to contribute this spring.

Freshman Jocelyn Sharpe (middle distance) should also contribute.

Last season, the Warriors finished third (78) in the league meet behind Scioto (150) and Olentangy (116) and ahead of Westerville South (75.33), Liberty (73), Westerville Central (65.33), Jerome (56) and Marysville (48.33)

North was seventh (45) in the district 1 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (152) and tied Hamilton Township and Teays Valley for 38th (1) at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (88).

"I want this team to have a lot of fun," Jackson said. "We practice hard. I really don't think there's any team that conditions and practices harder than we do. They may have more talent, but we condition and practice hard, so with that, I want them to also have fun and we do have fun."