Westland High School track and field coach Tim Eckard hopes the progress his boys and girls teams made during the regular season pays off in the postseason.
The Cougars, who participated in the OCC-Central Division meet May 11 and 13 at Dublin Coffman, are preparing to compete in Division I district meets at Hilliard Darby.
"It's a hectic time of year, but this is the money season," Eckard said. "This is why we do it at all. Everything leading up to this was just practice. Obviously, they measure and time (events) at (regular-season) meets, but it's still just a practice leading up to the league and district, and hopefully we can get some kids to regional and maybe someone gets lucky and gets to state."
The boys will compete in the district 2 meet, which holds field events Tuesday, May 16, running event preliminaries Wednesday, May 17, and running finals Saturday, May 20. The girls will compete in district 3, which holds field events Wednesday, May 17, running event preliminaries Thursday, May 18, and running finals Saturday, May 20.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North, and the top four finishers in each regional event advance to state June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
Westland had just one state qualifier last season in Ivan Suazo, who finished fifth in the 110-meter hurdles in a program-record 14.44 seconds. Suazo now competes at Eastern Michigan.
Eckard believes several boys have the potential to advance to regional, including junior Trent Bott in the throws, senior Mohamed Farah in the 1,600 and 3,200, junior E.J. Rondez in the 800, sophomore Mamadu Nabe in the long jump and sophomore Abdi Aden in the 300 hurdles.
"This boys team is pretty well-rounded," Eckard said. "We have a couple really solid distance runners, a couple sprint specialists (and) we have some decent field events kids. It's probably one of the most well-rounded boys teams I've ever coached."
Senior Curtiss Shore is hoping for strong showings at district in the throws. Last season, he fouled on all three attempts in the discus and did not compete in the shot put.
Shore has turned in personal bests this season of 127 feet, 6 inches in the discus and 41-1 1/2 in the shot put.
"My main focus at district is trying to get in those top four spots to get to regional," he said. "At the district meet last season it was bad weather and I ended up fouling, so I want to get redemption for that."
Eckard said the goal for the girls team is gaining valuable postseason experience.
"We only have one senior girl (in Brooke Reid)," Eckard said. "Some girls scoring some points at the district meet would be awesome. Payton Compton in the 800 has a shot and maybe Vanessa Evans in the long jump."
Westland prepared for the league meet by competing in the Tiger Invitational on May 4 at Columbus East. The boys finished third (105) of 12 teams behind Walnut Ridge (114.5) and St. Charles (113), and the girls were fifth (62) of 11 teams behind champion Walnut Ridge (109).
For the boys, Bott won the shot put (44-4) and discus (135-2), Farah won the 1,600 (4:38.97) and 3,200 (10:13.04) and Rondez won the 800 (2:07.97).
"It was good to boost some confidence going into the league meet letting them know that they are a good team and they can hang with pretty good teams," Eckard said.
For the girls, Aja Nathans won the 3,200 (13:39.99) and joined Compton, Kaela Ponce and Vicky Barete on the winning 3,200 relay (11:42.89).
wraps up season
The baseball team saw its season come to a close with a 7-4 loss to Central Crossing on May 9 in an OCC-Central contest that had been postponed May 5 because of bad weather.
The Cougars finished 6-22 overall and 0-15 in the league.
In the first round of the Division I district tournament May 8, 43rd-seeded Westland lost at 23rd-seeded Westerville North 10-0 in five innings.
The Warriors scored a run in the third inning and added four in the fourth and five in the fifth.
"We can put three or four innings of baseball together where we can hang in the league and we can compete against teams that are outside of our league, but the thing that has gotten us all year when the wheels fall off they fall off very quickly and we don't have an answer," coach Neil Bittel said.
falls at Delaware
The 41st-seeded softball team lost at 18th-seeded Dela-ware 18-0 in five innings in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 8.
The Pacers scored 14 runs in the second inning.
Emily Smith had the lone hit for the Cougars, who finished 1-16.
"I saw growth in the Dela-ware game," coach Sarah Shellenbarger said. "I saw girls hustling after the ball and I saw our leaders talking and communicating. ... I'm so proud of the team, as it's easy to get lost in the negativity of getting run-ruled every game, but our girls stayed positive, picked each other up and kept working hard."