The City championships won by the Northland High School girls track and field team and the Eastmoor Academy boys team May 8 and 10 at Africentric didn't have a business-as-usual feel even though both programs defended their titles.
According to Northland girls coach Tom Fast, the Vikings scored a City-meet record 149 points as they cruised to their second consecutive championship. Centennial (90.5) was second, followed by Whetstone (67.5), Eastmoor (56), East (45), Beechcroft (44), Africentric (44), Walnut Ridge (42), Independence (26), South (25), Linden-McKinley (16), Briggs (7), Mifflin (6) and Marion-Franklin (5).
The Eastmoor boys, meanwhile, won their seventh consecutive league title but had to battle Walnut Ridge throughout the meet. The Warriors finished with 125 points to edge the runner-up Scots (115). Northland (96.5), Whetstone (64.5), Centennial (54), South (41), Marion-Franklin (33), Mifflin (27), East (24), Linden (19), Beechcroft (12), Briggs (9), Independence (2) and West (1) rounded out the scoring.
In the Division I postseason this week, Briggs, Centennial and Mifflin are competing in district 3, Northland, Walnut Ridge and Whetstone are competing in district 2 and the West boys and girls are competing in district 4 and district 3, respectively. The running finals are Saturday, May 20, at Hilliard Darby for districts 1, 2 and 3 and Westerville South for district 4.
The boys teams for Beechcroft (district 4), Independence (district 3), Marion-Franklin (district 4) and South (district 4) are in Division I and the girls teams for those schools are in Division II.
Also competing in the Division II district meet, whose running finals are May 20 at Westerville South, are East, International and Linden.
Africentric is competing in the Division III, district 1 meet that concludes May 20 at Watkins Memorial.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to regional. The Division I regional is Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North, the Division II regional is May 25 and 27 at Lexington and the Division III regional is May 24 and 26 at Fairfield Union.
Large pack leads
The Northland girls track team won seven events in the City meet, including three of the four relays.
"I'm really proud of the kids," Fast said. "We have a lot of depth."
Junior Iyanna Ross won the 400 meters (57.51 seconds), placed second in the 200 (25.37), joined senior Monet Martinez, junior Charlea Henley and sophomore Michole Martinez on the winning 1,600 relay (4:06.42) and ran on the first-place 3,200 relay along with Michole Martinez, sophomore Destiny Thomas and freshman Mariah Kimmons (10:35.98).
Juniors Jordan Saffold and Jeana Weatherspoon and sophomores Delexis Anderson and Alexandria Hamilton won the title in the 400 relay (50.07).
Senior Drake Kirkland finished first in the 100 hurdles (15.51) and was third in the 300 hurdles (48.47), and senior Teneeyah Hale was first in the shot put (32 feet, 8 inches) and second in the discus (93-0).
Henley won the long jump (17-4 1/2), had a runner-up finish in the 800 (2:26.08) and ran on the runner-up 800 relay along with Saffold, Weatherspoon and freshman Shaniya Samuel (1:44.41).
It was Northland's sixth City title in 11 seasons.
"It was the first time I've run the 800 (this year) and I got my (personal-best time), and it's my third time winning the City in the long jump, so I was happy," Henley said.
Another big performer in the City girls meet was Beechcroft freshman Makiya Montgomery, who won both the 100 (12.17) and 200 (24.84) and was runner-up in the 400 (1:00.72).
"She works really hard," Cougars coach Mike Moncrief said. "I couldn't be prouder of her doing what she's doing as a ninth-grader, and she wants to get better."
Also winning titles were Eastmoor's 800 relay of senior Madison Johnson, junior Jennaia Williams and sophomores Carlesha Hudson and Tyler White (1:44.37) and East junior Azana Draughon-Williams in the discus (106-7).
Distance depth does
job for Eastmoor boys
Heading into the next-to-last event of the City boys track meet, Eastmoor trailed Walnut Ridge by seven points.
The Warriors have been strong in middle-distance and distance events all season, though, so their finish wasn't unexpected.
Junior Chris Chandler was first (10:02.74) and sophomore Bushra Bonkiye took third (10:47.59) in the 3,200 to give the Warriors 16 points in the event, while the Scots came away with only three.
Then in the 1,600 relay, seniors Malik Crockett and Lamont Fields, junior Omavi Hamilton and sophomore Wesley Prater of Eastmoor ran 3:23.94 to take first, while the Scots placed third (3:27.16). Whetstone was second (3:24.67).
Also winning titles for the Warriors were the 3,200 relay of Bonkiye, Crockett, Hamilton and Keels (8:14.51), Crockett in the 800 (1:58.6) and Hamilton in the 1,600 (4:35.91).
"(The distance runners) are the heart of the team, but there were a lot of guys that won this for us," Eastmoor coach Jason Lewis said. "Our shot putters and hurdlers really stepped up. I knew it was going to be a battle."
Winning titles for Walnut Ridge were senior Eric Knight in the 200 (22.25), senior Darrick Forrest in the 110 hurdles (15.31) and 300 hurdles (40.19) and senior Mychael Poole in the discus (129-9).
For Northland, freshman Khalil Branham took first in the 400 (49.67), senior Darius Dean won the shot put (44-6), senior Quentin Jones won the high jump (6-2) and the 800 relay of Branham, junior Mike Williams and sophomores Jesse Prewitt and J.J. Branham finished first (1:28.92).
Also capturing titles were East junior Shaquim Edwards in the long jump (21-7) and Linden freshman Jatoine Rowell in the 100 (11.16).
"I feel like hard work pays off," Rowell said. "I had a couple bad starts in earlier track meets and had a mentality of fixing it. It's my first time (competing in the City meet), so it's pretty humbling."
Briggs baseball team
preps for City final
For the 10th consecutive season, the Briggs baseball team will represent the City-South Division in the City championship game.
The Bruins will play host to Whetstone or Centennial on Thursday, May 18, as they look to win the league title for the first time since 2008.
Briggs beat Eastmoor 18-3 on May 11 to improve to 17-6 overall and finish 14-0 in the league. Five of its losses came to OCC opponents, including May 8 when the 40th-seeded Bruins lost to 29th-seeded Pickerington North 14-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Briggs' other loss was to Northland, 14-4 on April 20.
"We're playing well," coach Joe Krabill said. "Our pitching's been good and our defense is solid. We know that (our opponent in the City final is) going to play good defense and throw strikes."
Senior Seth Underwood, who picked up the win as Briggs beat West 2-1 on May 9 and is 5-1 with a 0.90 ERA, likely will start for the Bruins. Junior Terrance Yates and sophomore Troy Farley are others who could be called on to pitch.
Through 22 games, Underwood (P/2B) and Yates (P/3B) both were batting .400, sophomore Jordan Lumbard (1B) was hitting .475 with 23 RBI and Farley (C/P) had 33 runs scored.
Cougars, Vikings end
seasons at sectional
The Beechcroft and Northland boys tennis teams had their seasons end at Division I sectionals May 11.
The Cougars' doubles team of junior Henry Bright and sophomore Godfred Kyei won two matches to reach a quarterfinal at Reynoldsburg, but finished one victory shy of advancing to the district tournament Thursday, May 18, at Hilliard Davidson and Saturday, May 20, at Upper Arlington.
During the regular season, Beechcroft went 8-3 overall and 3-2 in the City-North to finish behind Centennial (5-0) and Whetstone (4-1). The Cougars lost to both the Stars and Braves by a 3-2 score.
The Northland doubles teams of D.J. Combs and Josh Moore and JeJuan Weatherspoon and N'Keeley Elmore both went 1-1 at the Davidson sectional.