Sophomore Joel Montgomery of the Worthington Christian High School boys tennis team attended the Division II state tournament the past two years with the anticipation of someday playing in it.

Sophomore Joel Montgomery of the Worthington Christian High School boys tennis team attended the Division II state tournament the past two years with the anticipation of someday playing in it.

That hope came to fruition this spring when he qualified for state for the first time.

"My dad actually forced me the past two years to come down here, which was obviously a smart move," Montgomery said.

Montgomery rallied after losing the first set of his opening match against Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic senior Andrew Linden for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win on May 25 at Ohio State. Then in the second round, he faced the eventual state champion in Pepper Pike Orange junior Maksim Kan.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Kan, 18, was not declared eligible by the OHSAA until late April. He reportedly is a native of Uzbekistan who had been home-schooled and attended the Roddick Lavalle Academy in San Antonio, Texas, last year.

Kan beat Montgomery 6-0, 6-0 and lost a total of five games during his four wins in the state tournament.

"He was just very, very consistent and got a lot of returns in," Montgomery said. "It was definitely not my best, but there's always room to improve. I learned a lot and I think I'll be able to step up more next year."

"Obviously, (Montgomery) was a little bit tired from his first match, but I'm not going to take anything away from Maksim," coach Alexander Schmidt said. "(Kan) was relentless and made Joel hit winners."

Montgomery's only other loss this season came in the championship match of the district tournament when he fell to Bexley's Matt Wareti 6-3, 6-2 on May 26 at Columbus Academy. Wareti went on to finish fourth at state.

Montgomery, who finished 22-2, won all five of his sectional matches in straight sets and became the program's first state qualifier since 2000 when he beat Granville's Daniel Gardner 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 6-3 in a district semifinal May 18 at Academy.

Also competing at district for the Warriors was the doubles team of senior Jon Myer and junior Luke Howard. The duo placed fourth at sectional and lost to Bexley's David Seckel and Matt Schottenstein 6-0, 6-0 in the first round at district.

Myer and Howard went 10-8 as a doubles team this season.

Worthington Christian loses three seniors in Myer, Alex Lombardo and Reid Smith. Lombardo and Smith played singles.

In addition Montgomery and Howard, expected to return are juniors Ryan Billman and Jason Boucouras, who played doubles this season.

"We obviously wanted (Montgomery) to do better (against Kan) and we feel like he could have, but I still couldn't be prouder of him for making it (to state) as a sophomore," Schmidt said.

"We had nine freshmen last year and we're just trying to do the best we can to continue to build the program. I think we've got the makings of a good team for the next couple years."

Boys relay qualifies for state track meet

The boys track and field team will be represented in the Division III state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State by the 1,600-meter relay of senior Michael Stomps, sophomores Mark Parsell and Matt Watterson and freshman J.J. Phillips.

Parsell, Phillips, Stomps and senior Chris Bradley ran on a 400 relay that the Warriors believed would contend for a state berth, but the relay was disqualified in the district meet that concluded May 19 at Gahanna.

"Personally, coming into district I doubted that we'd have much of a chance in the (1,600 relay)," Stomps said. "But as we kept on competing and dropping our time, I started to think it was more of a likelihood coming out of the regional. Originally, I thought our ticket to state would be in the (400 relay)."

The 1,600 relay placed second in the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Fairfield Union in 3:27.89.

Bradley competed at regional in the 100 but placed sixth (11.36). Also coming up short in their open events at regional were Stomps in the 400 (sixth, 51.88) and Watterson in the 1,600 (fifth, 4:39.01).

The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.

"Me and Michael both had another race (at regional), too, and we didn't make it in that, so maybe our legs will be more fresh when we run (at state)," Watterson said. "We still ran our best time in the (1,600 relay), but we think we can take more time off from what we ran (at regional) since that's going to be our only race."

Competing at regional for the girls team was Natalee Cole in the 400 (sixth, 1:02.43) and the 1,600 relay of Cole, Allie Custer, Sarah Sharp and Elena Wuest (sixth, 4:16.28).

"We were hoping the girls would be able to make it, but they still ran well and just weren't able to make it," coach Nathan Hughes said.