Jamie Hayes had high expectations for the Bexley High School girls track and field team, but its start even has surprised the sixth-year coach.
The Lions won their first four meets, including the Red Raider Relays on March 31 at London and the Diller Invitational on April 7 at Buckeye Valley.
"We have had a strong start and the girls are competitive with each other and they have been racing really hard," Hayes said.
"That competitive edge has shown in our meets and will push them to be better."
Bexley opened March 29 by scoring 80 points to defeat Columbus Academy (48) and Whitehall (22) before winning the eight-team meet at London with 100 points, ahead of runner-up Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan (97).
The Lions (68) then outscored Bloom-Carroll (52) and Fairfield Union (51) on April 4 before winning the 11-team meet at Buckeye Valley with 122.5 points, edging second-place Columbus School for Girls (116).
"Collectively as a team, we have been strong," junior distance runner Molly Fagin said.
"Our distance races have been really strong, but so have the sprinters. We're not just strong in one area. We are all really close and I think that helps a lot."
Last season, Fagin reached the Division II state meet in the 3,200 meters, finishing 13th in 11 minutes, 44.59 seconds. She was second in the 3,200 at Buckeye Valley in 11:53.69.
Another distance standout, senior Julia Cohn, won the 1,600 at Buckeye Valley in 5:39.43. She also joined Fagin and seniors Abbie Sapp and Kayla Steinke on the winning 3,200 relay (10:32.8).
Senior Lindsay Berndt and junior Maggie Bunker lead the sprint corps along with junior Libby Brown, who also competes in the hurdles. Sophomore Claire Flora leads in middle distance.
"We are very well-rounded, and we have a lot of newcomers," Hayes said.
"We have several freshmen and sophomores and kids who are new to the program that can help us."
Sophomore Freddie Collins, a move-in from Canal Winchester, should lead the team in the throws. At Buckeye Valley, she was runner-up in the shot put (30 feet, 7 inches) and third in the discus (75-0).
Freshman Morgan Bowers is a sprinter and high-jumper, and freshman Lucy Powers is a sprinter and long-jumper. Caroline Bunker, the freshman sister of Maggie Bunker, will fill out relays and run anything from the 100 to the 800.
Last season, the Lions won the MSL-Ohio Division championship by finishing two points ahead of runner-up Grandview (122-120) in the league meet. It was their first league title since joining the MSL in the 2003-04 school year, according to Hayes.
"Several girls have already reached their season bests from last year, and that's always good to see," Hayes said. "The big thing is staying healthy. Running well now is nice, but running in June is what we want. When you're running in June, you're running at the state meet, and that's always the goal."
throwers to lead boys
The boys track team will look to its distance runners and throwers as its sprinters get much-needed experience.
The Lions return senior Peter Hayden, who finished seventh in the 1,600 (4:23.27) in the Division II state meet last season. Senior Wade Randle finished fifth in the shot put at regional with a program-record effort of 51-11, but missed advancing to state by one spot.
Hayden also was a member of the 3,200 relay, which was ninth at state in 8:07.56 with 2016 graduates Jack Allen and Robert Myers and sophomore Grant Halliday.
Senior Aaron Rothchild also is a strong distance runner, and seniors Eric Crane and Parker Getz add depth in the throws.
"Our distance runners and our throws have been really strong," sixth-year coach Shane Roberts said. "We have a lot of sprinters to choose from and we hope to have them where they need to be by (the) league and district (meets)."
Junior Alexander Hirsh returns in middle distance and senior Aidan Kuhn competes in the high jump, long jump and hurdles.
Sophomores Bailey Garside and Charles McFadden are leading sprinters along with senior Simon Kroos, who is in his first season with the program.
"Simon has a lot of potential, and we're trying to figure out where to run him," Roberts said.
"He has done a good job in the sprints and in the 300 hurdles. We want to see how he'll do in the 300. He has a lot of raw talent."
The Lions finished eighth (45) of 11 teams at Buckeye Valley behind champion Worthington Christian (148). In last year's MSL-Ohio meet, the Lions finished third (103) for the second consecutive season behind Worthington Christian (141.5) and Whitehall (116).
"We have 55 guys on the roster, so we have a lot to choose from," Roberts said. "We have a lot of talented sophomores, especially in sprints, who we are trying to turn into leaders. We have to explain to them how it is, so there will be a lot of teaching this year."
TRACK & FIELD
March 29 -- vs. Columbus Academy and Whitehall
March 31 -- Red Raider Relays at London
April 4 -- at Bloom-Carroll with Fairfield Union
April 7 -- Diller Invitational at Buckeye Valley
April 11 -- vs. Columbus International, Ohio Deaf and Tree of Life
April 12 -- Hawks Invitational at Hartley
April 19 -- at Columbus School for Girls with Madison Christian, Marion-Franklin, New Hope Christian and St. Charles
April 21 -- Russ Owen-Bexley Relays
April 28 -- Milt Will Relays at Canal Winchester
May 2 -at Columbus School for Girls with Columbus Academy, Ready and St. Charles
May 5 -- Circleville Invitational
May 9, 12 -- MSL-Ohio meet at Whitehall
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball and boys tennis teams:
April 13 -- At Pickerington Central
April 15 -- Home vs. Centennial (DH)
*April 17 -- Home vs. Grandview
*April 18 -- At Worthington Christian
*April 19 -- At Columbus Academy
April 19 -- At Granville
April 13 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 18 -- At Columbus School for Girls
April 13 -- Home vs. Whetstone
*April 15 -- At Worthington Christian
*April 17 -- Home vs. Grandview
April 18 -- Home vs. Sparta Highland
April 19 -- Home vs. Wellington
*April 13 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
April 17 -- At Westerville North
*April 18 -- Home vs. London
April 19 -- At Granville