The Westerville South High School girls track and field team gained valuable experience in the Division I state meet.
With all four state qualifiers expected to return, coach Jimmy Gaul believes the future looks bright for the Wildcats.
Juniors Amaria Estes and Tara Thompson, sophomore Paichence Carter and freshman Chasatea' Brown finished seventh in the 800-meter relay in 1 minute, 43.2 seconds in the state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Thompson, who ran the anchor leg, had competed at state last year as a member of the 800 relay that finished 11th (1:44.67). The rest of the relay consisted of 2012 graduates in Nikia Buckingham, Alex Hall and Leija Harris.
"Their potential for growth is unlimited," Gaul said of the four members of the 800 relay. "It's exciting to think about the possibilities and the talent that these girls have and the work that they're all willing to put in, which is the big thing."
Brown also competed at state in two individual events, placing seventh in the long jump (17 feet, 3 inches) and finishing 11th in the 300 hurdles (45.6), as the Wildcats scored three points to tie eight other teams for 55th behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
In the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North, South scored 26 points to finish 12th behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
Brown placed second in the long jump (17-10 1/2) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (46.01), the 800 relay placed third (1:43.84) and the 1,600 relay of Brown, Carter, Thompson and freshman Desiree Clark finished fifth (3:57.02).
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
In the 17-team district 1 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, South finished fourth (53) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (90).
Winning district titles were Brown in the long jump (17-5 1/4) and the 1,600 relay (3:55.84).
The Wildcats won their first league title since winning back-to-back championships in 1998 and 1999, scoring 123 points in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Bradley to finish ahead of Westerville North (121), Dublin Scioto (88.5), Westerville Central (87), Bradley (78), Darby (59.5), Worthington Kilbourne (53) and Dublin Jerome (53).
Winning league titles were the 1,600 relay of Brown, Carter, Clark and Thompson (3:58.68), the 800 relay of Thompson, Carter, Brown and Estes (1:43.55), Brown in the 300 hurdles (46.08) and long jump (17-3 1/4), junior Phoebe Nkansah-Wiafe in the shot put (35-10) and freshman Mary Grace Sylvester in the discus (103-0).
"The (nine) seniors were a fantastic group of young women," Gaul said. "They were all-around citizens of our building."
North losing one state qualifier
North was represented in the Division I state meet for the first time since 2006.
Sophomore Heather Sandvik placed 10th in the 1,600 (5:06.28) and 11th in the 3,200 (11:32.76). She also teamed with senior Heidi Engelhardt and sophomores Haley Sandvik and Jocelyn Sharpe to place seventh in the 3,200 relay (9:24.62).
The Warriors scored two points at state to tie five teams for 64th.
Engelhardt was one of nine seniors.
"A lot of the seniors on both teams were with me for all four years," coach Johnny Jackson said. "They were really good leaders, role models, led by example. This is a group that never got in any trouble."
At regional, the 3,200 relay finished first (9:28.13) and Heather Sandvik placed second in the 3,200 (11:16.1) and third in the 1,600 (5:07.85).
Also at regional, Sharpe placed fifth in the 400 (58.51), Haley Sandvik finished 13th in the 3,200 (11:58.15) and sophomore Devin Jackson finished ninth in the shot put (35-1 3/4) and 14th in the discus (93-10), as the Warriors scored 28 points to tie Hartley for eighth.
North finished third (55) in the district 1 meet, with Heather Sandvik winning the 3,200 (11:26.97) and the 3,200 relay also finishing first (9:33.39).
In the OCC-Cardinal meet, Heather Sandvik won both the 3,200 (11:36.37) and 1,600 (5:09.35) and teamed with Haley Sandvik, Engelhardt and Sharpe to win the 3,200 relay (9:33.98).
Central improved as season progressed
Central coach Ryan Borland was pleased with the progress his team made this season.
"We were very young and we lost a lot of key scorers from last year's team, so we were pretty uncertain how we could make up for that," he said. "I felt like we really did a nice job this year between our (returnees) and our newcomers of becoming a pretty competitive team as the year went along."
The Warhawks' season ended at regional, where they scored two points to tie Grove City for 37th.
Sophomore Kenna Pollard accounted for their points by placing seventh in the 100 hurdles (15.37).
Also competing at regional were Pollard in the 100 hurdles (seventh, 15.37) and 300 hurdles (13th, 48.73), junior Jessie Swisher in the 300 hurdles (15th, 49.2) and pole vault (15th, 9-0), freshman Morghan Hyatt in the 400 (10th, 1:00.28), freshman Ciara Norris in the long jump (16th, 13-4 1/4), the 1,600 relay of Swisher, juniors Allison Fehlhaber and Kelly Piper and sophomore Allie Ubry (ninth, 4:08.33) and the 800 relay of Ubry, Norris, senior Adrienne Agee and junior Arie Williams (11th, 1:48.32).
Central, which loses 10 seniors, finished fourth (66) in the 16-team district 3 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (141).
Swisher won the pole vault (9-3) in the OCC-Cardinal meet.
"We have a really good junior class and we got a lot out of our freshmen and sophomores this year," Borland said.