Led by senior anchor Jacob Gaitten, the Grove City High School boys track and field team's 800-meter relay extended its season with a strong performance in the Division I, district 1 meet that concluded May 20 at Hilliard Darby.
Gaitten secured a regional berth for the Greyhounds when the relay finished fourth in 1 minute, 31.81 seconds, holding off Groveport (1:32.19) for the final qualifying spot.
The relay, which was the only regional qualifier for the boys or girls teams, competed in the regional preliminaries May 24. The finals are Friday, May 26, at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
"The goal was to make it to (May 24) and they did," coach Jane Taylor said. "They did really well. We have to work on some handoffs. Everybody was a little nervous, but overall they all did well."
Senior Chris Witcher led off the relay and was followed by sophomores R.J. Lewis and Adam Meister and Gaitten.
Meister took the place of injured sophomore Kingston McKinstry (hamstring) the past two weeks and "has done a nice job," Taylor said. "He's been a nice fit."
The regional berth was special for Gaitten, who missed the 2016 postseason with a foot injury.
"The goal was to qualify for regional in (at least) one event," he said. "I'm so happy since I couldn't run my junior year due to my foot injury. I'm so happy that I actually qualified and got my team there. ... I thought our (handoffs) could have been better. I thought we were supposed to go a little bit faster, but it came down to us versus Groveport and we pulled through."
Taylor also was pleased with the effort of the sixth-place 400 relay (44.59) of Witcher, Lewis, Kyle Jordan and Jacob Kifer.
Junior Evan Whitaker accounted for Grove City's other point by finishing eighth in the 3,200 (10:13.68).
The Greyhounds finished 14th (9 points) of 15 teams behind champion Olentangy Orange (124).
For the girls, senior Sydney Smith saw her prep career end when she finished sixth in the 3,200 (11:37.72) in the district 1 meet.
Smith was in a qualifying spot midway through the race before slipping to sixth.
"She went out really hard in the first mile; she went out in about a 5:30," Taylor said. "It was a tough race. Sydney was only two seconds off of her (personal record). Her senior year, I'm sure she would have liked to have gotten fourth, but she had a great year."
Smith established a program record in the 3,200 (11:35.54) last season at district and then placed 10th at regional (11:55.49).
She also was a two-time regional qualifier in cross country.
"I'm not happy that I didn't make it (to regional), but I had a good season," said Smith, who will run at Otterbein. "I thought I could do better, but I think I started out too fast."
Junior Morgan Summers collected Grove City's other two points at district by finishing seventh in the high jump (5 feet).
The Greyhounds finished 14th (5) of 16 teams behind champion Dublin Coffman (94).
Baseball team falls
in district final
The baseball team's dream of playing in the Division I state tournament ended with a 6-1 loss to Big Walnut in a district final May 18 at Upper Arlington.Videos •The Grove City baseball team accepts its runner-up medals after losing to Big Walnut in a district final. •Baseball coach Ryan Alexander addresses his team after a district semifinal win May 16.
The top-seeded Greyhounds, who finished 22-6 overall, were seeking their first state tournament berth since making back-to-back appearances in 2011 and 2012.
Eighth-seeded Big Walnut earned its third consecutive district title and plays Gahanna in a regional semifinal Thursday, May 25, at Coffman.
Senior pitcher A.J. Peter was perfect through four innings before allowing two runs in the fifth, and Big Walnut added four runs in the sixth.
Senior outfielder Cole Antle had an RBI double in the sixth.
"We thought our guys battled like crazy, our pitchers battled," coach Ryan Alexander said. "It was a blast to coach this group of guys every single day and I told them the thing I'm going to miss the most is going to practice tomorrow. It was a great group of 14 seniors."
Big Walnut ace Austin Becker went the distance, allowing five hits, striking out nine and walking four.
"We knew how good (Becker) was," Alexander said. "We thought we put good at-bats together against him early, but we just couldn't scratch that run."
After a first-round bye, the Greyhounds defeated 30th-seeded Teays Valley 5-0 in the second round May 10 at home as Peter tossed a no-hitter. Grove City then defeated 24th-seeded Dublin Jerome 16-6 in five innings in a district semifinal May 16 at Darby.
Peter, senior Hayden Cartt (OF) and junior Nick Erwin (SS/P) were named first-team all-district and first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division. Seniors Dan Rutan (P/1B) and Colton Bauer (2B/P) were second-team all-district and second-team all-league, and junior Tristin Siemer (OF/P) was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Senior Logan Williams (3B) was special mention all-league and Antle was honorable mention.
Cartt batted a team-best .408, followed by Williams (.398), Siemer (.396), senior Eric DeVore (.396, 1B/DH), Erwin (.371), Antle (.355) and Bauer (.354).
Williams led in RBI with 22.
Peter was 7-1 with a 1.18 ERA, 66 strikeouts and 40 walks in 59 1/3 innings, and Rutan was 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 15 walks in 47 innings.
Grove City went 14-0 in the OCC-Ohio to finish first ahead of Gahanna (8-6), Pickerington Central (8-6), Lancaster (6-8), Pickerington North (5-9) and Reynoldsburg (1-13).
"We're going to hang our hats high on a 20-win season, an OCC championship and people in the state really got to see how good Grove City baseball was," Alexander said.
Grove City tied Cincinnati Moeller for second in the final state poll.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Travis Burson (P), Travis Engard (P/OF), Branden Hopper (OF/INF), Brian Lee (C), Brennan Meisler (3B), Kyle Sigman (INF) and Jared Warner (C).
Boys tennis team
caps winning season
The boys tennis team finished 9-6 overall and went 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio to place fourth behind Gahanna (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1) and Pickerington Central (3-2) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (1-4) and Lancaster (0-5).
The Greyhounds closed their season in a Division I sectional tournament May 11 at Central, as they went 0-1 on all five courts.
Junior Noah Bungart played first singles with senior Sam Bennett at second singles and sophomore Tyler Sander at third singles.
Playing doubles at sectional were the teams of senior Nick Rohr and junior Garren Molino and freshmen Kaleb Coakley and Bryden Smith.
Other players eligible to return are sophomores Nathan Eberle and Darshan Patel and freshmen Tyler Faulk, Scott Kistler, Corbin Nickoloff and Nick Wallace.