A strong senior class provides the key to success for the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys track and field team.
The Wolves have 12 seniors who, according to 10th-year coach Todd Deisher, are leaders on and off the track.
"This is the most seniors we have had in a while," he said. "We have quite a few seniors with great experience. They aren't always our top scorers, but we have a lot who are strong and more mature and it's nice to have that kind leadership around."
The seniors are Nick Anderson (distance), Craig Bahnsen (throws), Jimmy Barbin (pole vault), Izzy Benzegala (sprints, throws) Jorge Buendia (sprints), Jason Defourny (sprints), Garren Erlenbusch (pole vault), Mitchell Guist (distance), Chris Johnson (sprints), Stewart Seely (throws), Austin Taylor (sprints, distance) and Ian Young (distance).
The Wolves opened March 30 by finishing sixth (37 points) in the 17-team Icebreaker Invitational behind champion and host Watkins Memorial (179).
Junior Chandler Bridges won the long jump (22 feet, 5 inches), breaking the meet record.
"Breaking the record (in the opener) only made Chandler hungrier," Deisher said. "He didn't take a break after that, but came to practice trying to get better and go farther."
Bridges competed in the Division I regional last season in the 1,600 relay (ninth, 3 minutes, 25.79 seconds) with junior Seth Hill and 2012 graduates Brad Polivka and Jeremie Nsumbu.
Junior Alex Meehan was a regional qualifier last season in the shot put, finishing 14th (46-1) as Kilbourne did not score. Pickerington North (60) won the regional title.
A junior new to the program is Keaton Reinhart, the starting quarterback on the football team.
"We potentially have a good mix of upperclassmen and younger kids," Deisher said. "They have a really good attitude and are ready to go."
In the district 3 meet last year, the Wolves finished 12th (14.5) of 16 teams as Pickerington North (127.5) won.
In the OCC-Central Division meet, Kilbourne tied Central Crossing for sixth (35) behind Hilliard Davidson (170.5), Dublin Coffman (146), Thomas Worthington (115.5), Hilliard Darby (80) and Upper Arlington (52) and ahead of Westland (25).
The Wolves have moved to the OCC-Cardinal, joining Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Darby, Hilliard Bradley, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.
State sprinters back for girls team
The girls team also had a competitor break a meet record in the Icebreaker Invitational when senior Taylor Hill won the 400 in 58.65.
Hill finished seventh in the 400 (57.24) in the Division I state meet last season. Junior Maggie Barrie also returns after finishing 12th in the 200 (25.67) as the Wolves tied for 59th (2) behind champion Reynoldsburg (56) as 72 teams scored.
Two other regional qualifiers return in senior Allison Hooley and junior Meagan Thompson, who teamed with Barrie and Hill on the seventh-place 1,600 relay (3:57.97). At regional, the Wolves finished 14th (17) behind champion Reynoldsburg (77) as 43 teams scored.
"We only took 11 girls to Watkins (Memorial) and did pretty well (in the Icebreaker Invitational)," said coach Chip Seely, whose team finished eighth of 16 teams, behind champion Gahanna (198).
"We have some good leaders in the sprints with Taylor Hill, Allison Hooley and Maggie Barrie."
The other top returnees are seniors Jenna Boue (distance), Katy Dyer (middle distance) and Paige Martinski (pole vault, jumps) and juniors Lilly Fang (distance), Sally Locher (pole vault, hurdles) and Kaitlyn Napoli (distance).
Martinski was second in the pole vault (9-0) at Watkins Memorial and Napoli was fourth in the 1,600 (5:59.31).
Martinski also helped the team's depth by recruiting three sophomore gymnasts in Madeline Beal, Allison Guist and Kayla Rice.
"We have 35 girls out (after having 24 last season) and Paige did her part to help the team by recruiting some of her teammates from gymnastics," said Seely, who is in his sixth season.
"All three will help us in the jumps and sprints, and Kayla Rice looked decent when she tried the hurdles."
Senior Hannah Loveday now attends Gallipolis Gallia Academy, leaving the Wolves with little throwing experience. Looking to help fill that void are junior Theresa Amato and freshman Alexis Stevens.
Junior LeAnne Wegley will run distance and freshmen Breanne Huffman and Samantha Roberts are sprinters.
"Everyone is running well and our numbers are up this year," Seely said. "Having some more depth can always help out."
In the district 3 meet last season, Kilbourne finished fifth (52) of 16 teams as Reynoldsburg (116.5) won.
In the OCC-Central meet, the Wolves finished third (82) behind Coffman (179.5) and Davidson (164) and ahead of Darby (78.25), Thomas (62.75), UA (56), Central Crossing (20.5) and Westland (15).