With a strong group of upperclassmen leading the way, the Reynoldsburg High School boys track and field team earned a tie for third place in the Division I state meet in 2015 and the runner-up trophy last spring.
That success has helped create an influx of athletes into the program.
Seniors Travis Marx (sprints, long jump) and Sterling Smith (sprints) are back with state experience, but some key roles this season could be filled by young athletes.
Of the 95 athletes combined on the boys and girls teams, 58 are freshmen and sophomores.
"This season we have a bunch of young, talented athletes," Marx said. "We have such a big team this year. Our main goal right now is to get everyone up to speed. We hope that we can get some of the new young athletes to unlock their full potential."
Marx has missed time early this season with a foot injury but is expected to gradually return to full strength. He and Smith ran on the 400-meter relay that took fourth (42.347 seconds) and the 800 relay that took fifth (1:27.1) at state last season.
Marx also added a fifth-place finish in the 200 (21.95).
Another key sprinter is sophomore Lance Gauthney, who ran on the 1,600 relay that also included Smith and placed 10th (3:27.6) at regional last year.
Other key seniors include Tyler Britton (shot put, discus), Sam Cooper (sprints), Arrington Dulin (middle distance), Tyler Grant (shot put discus), John Mauritz (distance) and Warrick Stanford (800).
Junior Marion Organ, who is new to the program, is contributing in sprinting events and the long jump.
Others on the team include juniors Brandon Abernathy (middle distance), Daniel Felix (high jump, long jump), James Hickman (long jump, high jump, sprints) and Michael Strefelt (shot put, discus), sophomores Dionte Roddy (sprints) and Andy Young (distance) and freshmen Isaiah Boateng (sprints), Muhammed Fall (hurdles, sprints) and Adrian Logan (hurdles, sprints).
On April 8, the Raiders placed 10th (29) in the 16-team Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North behind champion Pickerington Central (104).
Last season, Reynoldsburg took third (119) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet behind Central (160) and Gahanna (122).
"We've got 95 kids, so we're huge this year, and it's about split among the boys and girls, which we're really excited about," fifth-year coach Richard Ladowitz said. "Other kids are realizing that coming out for track can benefit them in other sports. We've got basketball and football kids, and several soccer kids. But our success is going to come down to how our seniors can do."
Girls track team
returns strong group
Of the girls track team's five Division I state qualifiers last season, four have returned.
Seniors Mika Cox, Hannah Gaskins and Tylar Mixon and sophomore Nia Grant ran on the 1,600 relay that placed third (3:50.75) at state a year ago. Cox added a sixth-place finish in the 200 (25.04), and Cox, Gaskins and Mixon joined 2016 graduate Gloria Opoku, who now competes for Malone University, on the 800 relay that was 10th (1:42.41).
Seniors Layanna Gauthney and Daneen Hazelwood, junior Dalajah Long, sophomore Breanna Johnson and freshman Olivia Olverson are other key sprinters.
Gaskins also is among the team's top competitors in the long jump and high jump, while Hazelwood leads in the hurdles.
Sophomore Nia Amerson, a transfer from Franklin Heights, leads the throwers.
Others looking to contribute include sophomore Natalie Costello (distance) and freshmen Jessica Ricks (hurdles, sprints), Wendesen King (middle distance), Kyron Simpson (middle distance) and Tori Thomas (high jump, long jump).
"As long as everyone is willing to put in the work and determination, then our team can bring a lot of good competition this season," Cox said.
The Raiders scored 43 points to place seventh in the 15-team Stingel Invitational behind champion Pickerington Central (109).
Last season, the Raiders finished fourth (82) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind champion Gahanna (173.25) and were district runners-up.
"Our (league) is just so loaded with Gahanna and Pickerington Central and they've still got to be the favorites," Ladowitz said. "I don't know that we have enough depth to compete with them, but individually we've done better at district, regional and state the last couple years. We'll see how the depth pans out."
TRACK & FIELD
March 25 -- Hammond Relays at Pickerington Central
March 30 -- at Pickerington North with Groveport and Hilliard Bradley
April 1 -- Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson
April 8 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 11 -- at Westerville Central with New Albany
April 15 -- Eagle Elite Invitational at Canton GlenOak
April 18 -- at Canal Winchester with Pickerington Central
April 21 -- Lancaster Fulton Relays
April 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome and Licking Heights
April 28 -- Marion Harding Night Invitational
May 1 -- at Olentangy Orange with Dublin Scioto
May 5 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational
May 11, 13 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Olentangy Orange
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg baseball, softball and boys tennis teams:
April 15 -- Home vs. Columbus West (DH)
*April 17 -- At Pickerington North
*April 19 -- Home vs. North
*April 13 -- At Grove City
*April 17- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*April 19 -- At North
*April 13 -- Home vs. Central
April 17 -- At Whitehall
April 18 -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial
April 19 -- Home vs. Fisher Catholic