Returning only two athletes who have competed in the Division I state meet, the New Albany High School track and field teams are making a point of getting uncomfortable.

Senior Michael Fenster is the defending champion in the seated 800 meters, and he also was second in the seated 100 and 400 at state as a junior. Classmate Max Frye capped a record-setting season by placing 11th in the 110 hurdles.

Video •Kyle Simon of the New Albany boys track and field team competes in the Stingel Invitational on April 8 at Pickerington North.

Now, fourth-year boys coach Crickett Anderson and first-year girls coach Amy Glenn are combining efforts to bring the rest of the Eagles up to that elite level.

"We are overcoming being uncomfortable and pushing (athletes) out of their comfort zone," Glenn said. "We have a lot of talented athletes who need to trust themselves and push themselves to become more confident. (We are) preparing athletes for the (OCC-Capital Division) meet (and) teaching athletes to be patient and to trust the process, the workouts and the coaches. We want to bring back the numbers to track and field."

Led by Frye, a Dartmouth College recruit, the boys team has 53 athletes. Frye was district champion in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, setting a school-record of 38.81 seconds in the latter event in that meet.

Frye was a first-time state qualifier as a junior.

New Albany lost a third state qualifier in 2016 graduate Eric Klopfenstein, who was 16th in the 110 hurdles. Klopfenstein now plays football at Marietta.

According to Glenn, Frye also will participate in the high jump as well on the 800 and 1,600 relays.

New Albany opened April 1 in the Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson, scoring 24 points to finish 11th of 13 teams behind champion Pickerington Central (136). Frye won the 300 hurdles (40.31) and was fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.38), junior Kenny McDonald won the long jump (20 feet) and Fenster swept the seated events, winning the 100 (18.25), 400 (1:17.97) and 800 (2:34.59).

Frye's 110 hurdles time at Davidson was .72 of a second slower than his state-meet performance.

Glenn was especially encouraged by McDonald, who was not on the team last year. He won the long jump in the Stingel Invitational on April 8 at Pickerington North, leaping 21-3 1/2.

"I predict he will break the (long jump) school record (of 22-4 set by Travon Bodrick in 2011)," Glenn said. "He's just inexperienced (right now)."

According to Glenn, other top contributors will include seniors Joe Clarke (sprints, middle distance), David Curren (distance), Parker Driggs (sprints, long jump), Varun Gopal (sprints), Garrett Lafferty (distance), Jacob Lay (throws), Chandler Stringer (distance) and Reed Wyant (sprints, middle distance), juniors Kane Breuer (distance), Logan Cook (throws), Gabe Glenn (middle distance) and Jaden Woods (sprints, jumps), sophomore Michiah Burton (sprints) and freshman Pedro Faerman (distance).

Austin, Lowe back
to lead girls team

While no members of the girls track team competed at state last year, half of the regional-qualifying 400 relay returns in juniors Jalyn Austin and Grace Lowe.

The relay won a district title (49.73) and was fifth at regional (48.99), .46 of a second shy of qualifying for state.

New Albany has one senior in thrower K'yalei Harris.

The Eagles began the season by finishing 11th (8) of 11 teams in the Wildcat Premier behind champion Gahanna (151).

Freshman Mia Lobel recorded the team's best finish by placing fifth in the 100 hurdles (17.97). The 400 relay of Austin, Lowe and freshmen Rachel Blais and Lizzy Owusu-Antwi was seventh (53.92), and the 6,400 relay of junior Loren Klein, sophomore Monica Vale and freshmen Meredith Given and Katie Quillen was eighth (26:51.92).

Glenn replaced Otis Winston, who left the program after nine seasons and now coaches the boys team at Upper Arlington.

According to Glenn, other top contributors on the 31-athlete roster will include junior Char Jones (throws) and Alyssa Painter (distance), sophomores Hallie Ackley (sprints), Sandrienne Nguyen (sprints) and Annette Opoku (sprints) and freshman Lindsey Neff (sprints).

Among other implementations, Glenn added the slogan "Fun on 3" for her athletes in the hopes they enjoy themselves while working.

"This may seem silly, but from day one I have encouraged the athletes to have fun (hence our slogan)," Glenn said. "I want them to keep it real (with) perseverance, determination and grit. ...

"Both teams are very coachable, committed, excited, positive, accepting of changes (and) team-oriented."

Two goalies helping
boys lacrosse team

Boys lacrosse coach Chris Brown was hesitant to rotate his two goalkeepers entering the season, but the situation seemed to have worked at times during a successful start.

Junior Matt Huizenga has split time with sophomore Perry Doran throughout the first three weeks of the season. Huizenga made a season-high 12 saves in both a 15-11 loss to Dublin Coffman on March 25 and an 11-6 loss to Olentangy Liberty on April 6, and both goalies recorded saves in three other games.

Doran had six saves and Huizenga had three in a 12-5 win over Pickerington North on March 29, and in an 11-4 win over Hilliard Bradley on April 1, Huizenga had five saves and Doran had one.

Both saw action, although not many saves, in a 13-6 win at Thomas Worthington on April 8. Doran made two saves and Huizenga had one, while Cody Roberts' four goals and Elijah Bridges' three led the offense.

New Albany was 5-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Olentangy Orange on April 11.

"It's a good competition to have," Brown said. "It's a competition every week. Both of them are good. If one of them is not playing well, we'll have to play the other. I don't like doing that, but you do what you have to."

The Eagles also had early wins over Granville (5-4 on March 22) and Dublin Scioto (10-6 on March 31). New Albany lost its OCC-Buckeye opener at Liberty as Drew Miller and Nathan Reader each scored twice.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

TRACK & FIELD

April 1 -- Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson

April 4 -- at Marysville with Pickerington North B

April 8 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North

April 11 -- at Newark with Heath

April 13 -- Licking Heights Invitational

April 19 -- Gahanna Relays

April 21 -- Freedom Relays at Olentangy Liberty

April 25 -- Home vs. Groveport and Pickerington North

April 28 -- Milt Will Relays at Canal Winchester

May 2 -- Licking Heights Relays

May 5 -- Westerville Central Invitational

May 10, 13 -- OCC-Capital meet at Dublin Coffman

Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and softball teams:

BASEBALL

April 13 -- Lancaster at Beavers Field

*April 17 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester

April 18 -- At Hamilton Township

*April 19 -- At Canal Winchester

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 13 -- Home vs. Westerville North

*April 18 -- At Olentangy

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 13 -- At Westerville North

April 15 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Indian Hill

*April 18 -- Home vs. Olentangy

SOFTBALL

*April 13 -- Home vs. Big Walnut

*April 19 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester

*League contest