Before he takes the field with the Michigan State football team, Dominique Long has some unfinished business with the Westerville South High School boys track and field team.
The senior is looking for a return trip to the Division I state meet June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
"The goal is definitely to get back (to state) and hopefully get first place in the 400 (meters)," Long said. "This is the year where I should be putting the gas on the pedal and not let up."
Long also is aiming for the program record of 47.44 seconds in the 400, which 2010 graduate Ryan Barber set in 2008. Long achieved his best time of 47.97 last season in the regional final.
The Wildcats will compete in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Olentangy Orange before opening the postseason with the district 3 meet Wednesday, May 17, May 18 and May 20 at Hilliard Darby.
Last season at state, Long joined 2016 graduates Kam-eron Calloway, Daylan Haynie and Mason Hunter on the sixth-place 800 relay (program-record 1:27.72). Long also was eighth in the 400 (49.25).
Long also was part of the program-record 1,600 relay, which ran 3:20.01 in 2015.
He was introduced to track through AAU competition in second grade, and Long and coach Jimmy Gaul both credit Long's mother, Lucretia, for his success in the 400.
"God bless his mother for many things, but amongst them for telling us toward the end of his freshman year -- because we had him in the high jump, the long jump, the 100 and the 200 -- she said Dom was a 400 runner and we need to put him in the 400," Gaul said. "He's found his home ever since then."
Long's brother, Darryl, is a 2014 graduate of South and a redshirt sophomore tight end at Akron after transferring from Kentucky. He has been an inspiration for his younger brother.
"I learned what the recruiting process was like just from watching him go through it," Long said. "He's always been a big supporter. He's always been telling me to keep my head up, keep grinding and good things will come and eventually they did."
Long will play defensive back at Michigan State after being a defensive back and wide receiver at South. He was named first-team all-state, all-district and all-league last season.
He said the football team's 1-9 finish last fall taught the players several lessons.
"We learned a lot about toughness and continuing to fight through adversity and keep trying your hardest and just keep playing for the love of the game," he said.
Gaul said Long also received interest from several Division I schools to compete in track before deciding to play football.
He said Long is not only a leader in athletics, but in the school.
"I had Dom in AP world history as a sophomore and I don't think you could find a person in our building that would have any negative things to say or any complaints about Dom," Gaul said. "He's polite, respectful (and) hard working. He's a good citizen of the building, a good friend to everyone in the building. He's an all-around great kid."
Baseball team loses
The 33rd-seeded baseball team lost at home to 38th-seeded Groveport 12-4 on May 8 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Wildcats trailed 4-2 in the third inning before scoring two runs to tie the game, but Groveport scored four runs in the sixth and four in the seventh to pull away.
South was 7-16 overall and 1-13 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Westerville Central on May 9 in its league finale.
Softball squad falls
in tournament opener
The 38th-seeded softball team lost at 34th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 3-2 in nine innings May 8 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Melanie Batchelder doubled twice and scored both runs for South. Rachael Broyles had an RBI in the first inning.
The Wildcats led 1-0 in the sixth inning and 2-1 in the eighth, but the Wolves rallied each time.
South was 4-19 overall before playing Reynoldsburg in its regular-season finale May 9 and went 1-9 in the OCC-Buckeye.