With 15 freshmen competing, the Worthington Christian High School boys and girls track and field teams have spent significant time working on the basics.
There are enough veterans back, particularly on the boys team, to keep the Warriors hopeful that there will be some memorable finishes this spring.
"We've got a lot of returners and a big freshman class," said coach Loren Hughes, who is in her third season leading the program with Nathan Hughes. "A lot of the freshman have never done track before or haven't done it outside of middle school. I feel like I'm back in middle school teaching techniques again, but everyone's got a good attitude and is working hard. We're excited about the numbers."
The Warriors have three boys who competed in the Division III state meet last season in juniors Mark Parsell and Matt Watterson and sophomore J.J. Phillips.
That trio, along with 2012 graduate Michael Stomps, entered the state meet with the 14th-best time in the 1,600-meter relay but ended up finishing sixth in 3 minutes, 26.36 seconds.
The three points the relay scored gave the Warriors a tie for 58th among the 73 teams that scored as Columbus Academy (64) won the title.
Worthington Christian opened April 5 by scoring 75 points to win a home tri meet against Tree of Life (39) and Briggs (27).
Seniors Seth Pierce and Michael Sauder are expected to lead the distance corps, and senior Luke Proxmire also has experience running distance. Proxmire will compete in the high jump, with Parsell and Phillips in the long jump.
The Warriors were sixth (35) of 14 teams that scored in the district 1 meet last season, behind champion Academy (177), as 2012 graduate Chris Bradley was third in the 100 (11.47), the 1,600 relay placed third (3:34.44), Stomps took second in the 400 (52.03) and Watterson placed third in the 1,600 (4:40.16).
Then in the regional, Worthington Christian scored 18 points to place 12th behind champion Academy (113) as 44 teams scored.
The girls team, which scored 55 points to win its opening meet ahead of Tree of Life (37) and Briggs (14), didn't have any state qualifiers a year ago after having at least one relay at state in 2010 and 2011.
The Warriors were 14th (17) at district behind champion Academy (83) as 23 teams scored and tied for 30th (6) at regional behind champion Mount Gilead (56) as 46 teams scored.
Sophomore Natalee Cole was fourth in the 400 (1:02) at district. She also ran on the fourth-place 1,600 relay (4:15.67) at district with junior Sarah Sharp.
Other girls looking to contribute are sophomores Hadley Jones and Casey Richards.
Allie Custer, who ran on the 1,600 relay and competed on relays at state as a sophomore and junior, led the 2012 senior class. She is playing soccer at Indiana Wesleyan.
"We've got some promising freshmen that are decent," Loren Hughes said. "The future looks bright."
Montgomery back for boys tennis team
After going 14-4 a year ago, the boys tennis team lost three players to graduation.
Having junior Joel Montgomery back would seem to be a good piece on which to rebuild.
Montgomery became the program's first state qualifier since 2000 a year ago, when he went 22-2 and advanced to the second round of the Division II state tournament.
Montgomery beat Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic's Andrew Linden 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in his opening state match before losing to eventual champion Maksim Kan of Pepper Pike Orange 6-0, 6-0.
His only other loss came against Bexley's Matt Wareti, who finished fourth at state, 6-3, 6-2 in the district final.
"He's been working really hard with his private coaches and in tournaments," Alex Schmidt, who is in his sixth season as coach, said of Montgomery. "He's been working with the intent of trying to make it to the second day of the state tournament this season."
Worthington Christian opened April 8 at Delaware.
Senior Luke Howard was expected to see time at second singles and some in doubles after playing first doubles last season. He and 2012 graduate Jon Myer placed fourth at sectional in doubles but lost to Bexley's David Seckel and Matt Schottenstein 6-0, 6-0 in the first round at district.
Senior Ryan Billman played second doubles last year and could contribute in singles or doubles.
Sophomore Dominic Francis should see time in singles, according to Schmidt.
Others looking to contribute are seniors Quentin Sciulli and Anthony Cardosi and freshman Jeremiah Ong.
Also lost to graduation were Alex Lombardo and Reid Smith, who both saw time in singles last season.
"We've got a lot of young players," Schmidt said. "We had a really successful year last year and that's put a target on our backs. We want to try to see if we can keep building on last year's record of 14-4. It's going to be a fun year."