Coach Adam Walters has a lot to choose from in his fourth season guiding the Olentangy Orange High School boys track and field team.
Walters has 141 athletes to consider when he fills out the lineup, and the results have been impressive early in the season.
The Pioneers won the 15-team Newark Invitational on April 1 with 123.5 points, finishing ahead of second-place Thomas Worthington (98). They then were runners-up (82.5) in the 16-team Stingel Invitational on April 8 at Pickerington North behind Pickerington Central (104).
"Overall, I think our boys team should be strong in a lot of events if we can stay healthy," Walters said. "Our goal is to make it to the postseason healthy, and if we do that, good things will happen."
Health was an issue last year when the Pioneers' top distance runner, senior Hunter Moore, missed the postseason with a stress fracture in his left foot. The Eastern Michigan signee owns the program record in the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 20.89 seconds).
Moore won the 3,200 (9:03.9) in the Division I indoor state meet March 4 at the University of Akron.
In cross country last fall, he finished eighth (15:20.9) in the Division I state meet at National Trail Raceway for his third consecutive all-state performance.
"It's great to have Hunter back after he was hurt last year," Walters said. "He wasn't happy with his performance at the state cross country meet and worked hard during the winter indoors to be ready for the outdoor season."
Distance should be a strength for the Pioneers with seniors Josh Brooks, Matt Hartzell and Tommy Heiden joining Moore.
Senior T.J. Coates, junior Jayden Rodgers and sophomores Zach Harrison and Christian Wright will lead the sprinters. Rodgers also set the program record in the 110 hurdles (15.08) in the Stingel Invitational.
Coates joined junior Tyler King, Harrison and Wright last season on the 1,600 relay that finished 13th (3:22.81) in the Division I state meet at Ohio State.
"As a senior, it's important to show the younger kids what Orange track is all about," said Coates, a Tiffin recruit for football and track who holds the program record in the 200 (22.32). "We're a family and we're all in this together. We need to show (the younger athletes) that if they continue to work hard, they can go a long way."
The Pioneers captured their first league title last season, winning the OCC-Capital Division meet with 150 points as runner-up Olentangy scored 112.83. Both teams now compete in the OCC-Buckeye.
Senior Zach Skidmore holds the program record in the shot put (51 feet, 2 1/4 inches), and senior Nate Roush is back to lead the pole vaulters.
Junior Manny Anderson will be a high-jumper and run the 400, and junior Kevin Acheampong is a jumper and sprinter. Juniors Sam Ansong and Joel Sarpong will run sprinting events.
"We have a few new athletes and freshmen to help us in the long run," Walters said. "I don't feel like we have a lot of weak events."
pace girls track team
The girls track team has 121 athletes, including state champion pole vaulter Anna Watson.
The senior Indiana signee won the Division I state title last season by clearing a program-record 13-4. She also won the Division I state indoor title last month with an effort of 13-0.
Also back is Allie Guagenti, who was sixth at state in the 1,600 (program-record 4:59.33) last spring. The sophomore was second in the 1,600 (4:59.38) in the indoor state meet and also holds the program record in the 800 (2:16.33).
"We go in with Anna and Allie both having a chance to win state in their events," said Walters, who is in his fifth season with the girls team. "Anna is vaulting as well as she ever has and Allie is continuing to get better. She has put on so much muscle from last season and has really dedicated herself to the 1,600."
Orange, which tied Pickerington Central for second (37) in the indoor state meet behind Gahanna (51), opened the season by scoring 166 points to win the Newark Invitational ahead of runner-up Thomas (104). It also was second (95) to Pickerington Central (109) in the Stingel Invitational with Gahanna third (91).
"We have 50 more girls out this season than we did last year, and we have a lot of younger athletes who could contribute for us," Walters said. "We have some athletes who can dominate in their events."
The Pioneers have 12 seniors, including Angel Frye (sprints), Brynna Johnson (jumps, relays), Tiere Richardson (jumps) and Gurleen Vilkhu (jumps). Vilkhu holds the program record in the long jump (16-10 1/2).
Other key contributors include juniors Megan Cochran (throws) and Katie Priest (hurdles) and sophomores Brenda Agyekum (sprints), Mackenzie Blendick (hurdles) and Grace Frye (throws, 400).
The Pioneers won their second consecutive OCC-Capital title last season, outdistancing runner-up Olentangy 189-109.5. They both are in the OCC-Buckeye this season.
The league meet is May 11 and 13 at Orange.
"We have won the last two years, but it will be a dogfight this year when you take Olentangy and add in Liberty and the Westerville schools," Walters said. "I think it will be an advantage to have the OCC meet at home."
TRACK & FIELD
April 1 -- Newark Invitational
April 4 -- vs. DeSales and Franklin Heights
April 8 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 12 -- at Olentangy
April 14 -- Elk Relays at Centerville
April 18 -- at Olentangy Liberty
April 21 -- Freedom Relays at Liberty
April 24 -- vs. Buckeye Valley and Delaware
April 28 -- Olentangy Invitational
May 1 -- vs. Dublin Scioto, Reynoldsburg and Westerville Central
May 5 -- Delaware County Elite 8 at home
May 11, 13 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at home
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball and boys tennis teams:
April 13 -- At Upper Arlington
April 15 -- Home vs. Bellville Clear Fork
*April 17 -- At Olentangy
*April 19 -- Home vs. Olentangy
*April 13 -- Home vs. Olentangy
*April 18 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
*April 13 -- At Olentangy
April 14 -- Home vs. Mason
*April 19 -- At Liberty
*April 13 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*April 17 -- At Westerville South
*April 19 -- At Olentangy
*April 13 -- At South
*April 18 -- At Olentangy