A strong indoor season has carried over to the outdoors for the Thomas Worthington High School girls track and field team.
Senior Ashley Forte placed second in the 800 meters (2 minutes, 21.24 seconds) in the Division I indoor state meet March 8 at the University of Akron and teamed with senior Ariel Rittenhouse, junior Holly Payne and freshman Christina Nash to finish eighth in the 3,200 relay (9:48.81).
Also in the indoor state meet, senior Ryanna Reid was seventh in the long jump (16 feet, 8 1/2 inches).
Forte qualified for the outdoor state meet last season in the 800, but did not compete because of a trip to France. She had advanced to state by placing fourth (2:13.56) in the regional meet at Pickerington North.
"We got a lot of valuable experience indoors and a lot of our younger runners were able to experience that kind of competition," said second-year coach Andy Cox, whose team opened April 1 by defeating Westerville South 65-53. "If we can channel that energy from the indoor season to the outdoors, we will be going in the right direction."
Also competing at regional last year were senior Cassandra Laios in the shot put (seventh, 36-4), senior Chandler Adamaitis in the 300 hurdles (ninth, 46.55), the 800 relay of Forte, Reid, sophomore Miranda Carver and senior Shay Davis (ninth, 1:45.95), the 400 relay of senior Alexandra Brown, Reid, Adamaitis and Davis (ninth, 50.08), the 1,600 relay of Forte, junior Gia Eastman, Reid and Davis (10th, 4:09.51), Payne in the 1,600 (11th, 5:40.94) and the 3,200 relay of Payne, 2013 graduate Anna Klompen, Rittenhouse and 2013 graduate Cheyenne Buckingham (11th, 10:19.67).
The Cardinals won the 13-team Falcon Invitational on April 5, scoring 135 points as host Fairfield Union (105) was runner-up.
Finishing first were Reid in the 200 (27.13) and long jump (14-10), Adamaitis in the 100 hurdles (16.54) and 300 hurdles (48.16), Brown won the 100 (13.62), the 400 relay of Brown, freshman Kiara Coleman, Adamaitis and sophomore Liesl Ludwig (53.36), the 800 relay of Coleman, Reid, Davis and Forte (1:50.9) and the 1,600 relay of Reid, Nash, Davis and Forte (4:17.65).
Placing second were Forte in the 800 (2:22.6) and the 3,200 relay of Payne, freshman Hannah Moulton, junior Paige Narciso and Nash (10:32.18).
"We have a lot of good character seniors who are super nice and super competitive," Cox said. "They have worked extremely hard to improve and Ashley Forte, Chandler Adamaitis, Alexandra Brown and Shay Davis have come back in better shape than ever."
Seniors expected to lead boys team
The boys team has returned its only Division I state qualifier from last season in senior Malyk Burks, who finished 14th in the long jump (21-4 3/4) in his first season competing in the event.
Burks had advanced to state by placing fourth (21-4 1/2) at regional. The Cardinals' only other regional qualifier a year ago was 2013 graduate Tyrin Franklin, who finished seventh in the 300 hurdles (40.64).
The Cardinals are led by first-year coach Bill Darling, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant. He replaced Dominick Mazza, who led the program for one season.
"We have about 70 kids, which is a big number," said Darling, whose team opened April 1 with a 94-34 loss to Westerville South. "We have a big group of throwers, a big distance group and a lot of seniors who are going to score a lot of points for us."
Jalen Wells was the Cardinals' only qualifier for the indoor state meet. The senior, who was hampered by a leg injury last season, placed second in the 400 (49.32).
Thomas won the 13-team Falcon Invitational on April 5, scoring 131.5 points as host Fairfield Union (99) was second.
Finishing first were the 800 relay of senior Jason Baty, Burks, senior Garrett Featherstone and Wells (1:32.82), the 1,600 relay of Baty, Featherstone, senior Akwasi Boeham and Wells (3:34.86), Burks in the 200 (22.92) and long jump (20-10), Wells in the 400 (50.64), junior Jonathan Kissel in the 3,200 (10:05.78) and senior Michael Wood in the high jump (6-2).
Placing second were the 400 relay of senior Louis Fomby, sophomores Stephen Frank and Atakorah Oteng and junior Joe Thompson (47.44) and Wells in the 200 (23.18).
"We have a good senior class, but we also have a good group of freshmen and sophomores who could be big contributors for us," Darling said. "We have had surprisingly good performances in sprints and (throws) from younger kids, which gives us all the more reason to be optimistic."