Dalany Boykins and Grace Luther spend a lot of each practice with the Pickerington High School Central girls track and field team coaching each other through their throws.
Their talents seem to complement one another. Boykins, a senior, is stronger in the discus, and Luther, a junior, is the better in the shot put.Videos •Watch an interview with Pickerington Central girls track athlete Grace Luther. •See highlights of the boys volleyball team's win over Upper Arlington on May 4.
Still, Boykins conceded there is a healthy rivalry that has benefited both of them.
"We're fairly competitive, but it's not a bad competition," Boykins said. "Grace has gotten a lot better at discus, and she helps me with my shot technique.
"I'll tell her to keep her hand flat and how to position herself during the spin. She'll help me with the little things I have to do during the shot, and I think it has helped me."
Boykins and Luther hope to be among the Tigers' top performers in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Olentangy Orange.
Boykins' personal-best throws are 129 feet, 11 inches in the discus and 32-0 in the shot put, while Luther has topped out at 37-8 in the shot put and about 100-0 in the discus.
Luther's top distance in the shot put would have advanced her to the Division I state meet last year. She threw 37-1 at regional last season to place sixth, finishing four inches and two spots shy of qualifying for state.
"Anytime I am tired or want to quit, I think of those four inches and how much that hurt," Luther said. "Last year, a lot of it was technique more than strength. We have been lifting a lot more than last year, which helps, but I think it's the technique. Last year, it wasn't there yet. It's a lot better now."
Boys coach Jason Roach, who also coaches both teams' throwers, did not underestimate the impact Boykins and Luther have had on the other.
"They don't even realize at this point how good they can be," Roach said. "When you have somebody who throws so well, everybody else sees exactly what they can do to improve, and they will improve. It's a great competition. They can do something special at the end of the year. Both of them have the ability."
Boykins planned to sign May 10 with Wingate University, while Luther has received letters from Kent State, Miami University and Wittenberg, among others.
Luther's older sister, 2014 graduate Allie Luther, plays softball at Kent State.
Boykins and Luther, both of whom also play basketball, are trying for their first state berths.
Both anticipate a showdown with Pickerington North standout thrower Jannie Kamara, a Miami recruit, at the league meet.
Central is the defending boys champion, having scored 160 points at last year's league meet to finish ahead of Gahanna (122), Reynoldsburg (119), Lancaster (105), North (79), Groveport (33), Newark (24) and Grove City (19).
The girls were second (111.25) behind Gahanna (173.25) and ahead of Lancaster (110.58), Reynoldsburg (82), North (79.25), Newark (51), Groveport (30) and Grove City (22.66).
Groveport and Newark now are in the OCC-Capital.
Girls coach Hunter Nichols considers Gahanna the favorite to repeat.
"Our distance group is starting to catch up to central Ohio, and our sprinters and hurdlers have really come along," Nichols said. "If we are on in all those phases, we'll be pretty tough. We'll see what we can do against Gahanna. They are incredibly tough."
Central then will compete in the district 3 meet next week at Hilliard Darby. Field events will be held Wednesday, May 17, followed by preliminaries for the running events May 18 and finals for the running events May 20.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 24 and 26 at North.
Softball team wins
league, shifts focus
Coming off its second league championship in three years, the softball team began pursuit of its first Division I district championship since 2013 when it played host to 28th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a second-round game May 10.
Top-seeded Central was 21-2 overall before playing Granville on May 9 and went 10-0 in the OCC-Ohio, clinching the league championship with an 11-6 win at Grove City on May 1.
Against the Greyhounds, Kristen Bales hit solo home runs in the second and third innings, and Kallie Boren added a solo homer in the sixth.
The Tigers finished off a perfect league season with a 12-11 win over Gahanna on May 3.
Central continued to use the team slogan "erase all doubt" as it tries to atone for last year's 13-12 season.
"The mentality from the start has been to not settle for just winning the league. There is so much more this team can accomplish," coach Carrie Eneix said. "We were so disappointed last year after we lost so many close games. How did we have so many phenomenal players and not do more? This team has a great will and desire to make sure we never have that feeling again."
The second-round winner plays 15th-seeded Dublin Scioto or 16th-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined. That winner advances to a district final May 19 or 20 at Central.
The Tigers did not play Scioto or Watterson during the regular season.
Baseball coach happy
with tourney seed
Although the baseball team fell short of the OCC-Ohio championship, coach Ray Noe was pleased with his team's overall performance during the regular season and its draw in the Division I district tournament.
Central entered the week 17-9 overall and finished 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio. Their league game against Gahanna on May 5 was postponed because of bad weather, and according to school officials the game will not be made up.
The Tigers are seeded sixth of 46 teams in the tournament and took a first-round bye. They played host to 34th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a second-round game May 10.
"I think people are starting to notice the kind of year we've had," Noe said. "We've been inconsistent lately, but I think things are going in an upward direction."
Central split its first four games last week, losing to Reynoldsburg 8-7 in 10 innings on May 1 in the completion of a suspended game from April 10 before defeating the Raiders 17-6 in five innings that same day.
The Tigers then defeated Scioto 12-6 on May 2 before losing to Grove City 5-0 on May 3.
The second-round winner will play 10th-seeded New Albany or 20th-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined. That winner advances to a district final, where it likely will face second-seeded Darby, 14th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley or 19th-seeded Upper Arlington on Wednesday, May 17, at a neutral site.
Central did not play any of those teams during the regular season.
Boys tennis team
set for sectional
The boys tennis team will play host to a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, and hopes to advance players to district after falling short a year ago.
Stephen Klein, Jacob Scott and Cooper Stang will play singles for the Tigers, while Evan Gibson and Carson Stanley will comprise one doubles team and Leyton Mathias and Jeremy O'Coner will comprise the other.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 18 at Hilliard Davidson and May 20 at UA.
Central was 10-8 overall before its scheduled regular-season finale May 9 against Thomas Worthington.