Division I state championships are within reach for the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field and softball teams after both celebrated regional titles during the final weekend of May.
The girls track team advanced all four of its relays as well as eight individuals to the state meet Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State.
After winning the state championship in 2015, the girls earned the runner-up trophy a year ago.
The softball team is headed to the state tournament for the fifth time, with the other trips coming in 1979, 1981, 2003 and 2011.
The last two times were under current coach Jim Campolo, and both times the Lions ended up as runners-up.
At 10 a.m. Thursday, June 1, the softball team plays Elyria in a state semifinal at Firestone Stadium in Akron. The state title game is 10 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at the same site.
Softball team makes
state for third time
The softball team takes a 25-5 record into its matchup against Elyria, which is 20-4 and last made it to state in 2014 when it lost to Grove City 9-1 in a semifinal.
The winner plays North Canton Hoover or Lebanon for the championship.Videos and photos •Watch the Gahanna softball team celebrate its regional title May 27. •Watch an interview with softball players Faith Bogard and Addie Kittel. •Softball player Lauren Ringhiser talks about her two-run home run. •Watch an interview with baseball player Jackson Wolf after his no-hitter in a regional semifinal. •Check out a slideshow from the baseball team's regional final.
In 2011, Gahanna lost to Hoover 4-2 for the state title. Hoover also won the championship in 2014 and was a regional runner-up last season.
The Lions beat Lancaster 11-7 on May 24 in a regional semifinal at Ohio State and then defeated Hilliard Bradley 6-2 on May 27 in a regional final at the same site.
Against Bradley, Addie Kittel hit a home run and Kristen Zink had a two-run single in support of pitcher Faith Bogard, who gave up six hits and struck out two.
"We've worked the last three years, worked all through the winter and all through conditioning and I'm just so proud of my team," Bogard said. "I feel like everybody played a part."
Against Lancaster, three runs scored in the third when Aly Harrell singled and the center fielder bobbled it, bringing home Zink, Lauren Woodward and Alaina Marcum.
Harrell also had a two-run double to the center-field fence and Lauren Ringhiser had a two-run homer.
The Lions lost at the regional level each of the past four seasons.
"It feels real good," Campolo said. "I tell people that it's about us. If we play the way we're capable of, we're capable of beating anybody.
"I know Elyria's a good program and they've been (to state) a lot, and I'm sure they'll be ready for us."
Girls track team
again tops field
The girls track team scored 97 points May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North to win its third consecutive regional title.
At 4:45 p.m. Friday, June 2, the 3,200-meter relay that likely will include junior Claire Steigerwald and sophomores Shynae Deas, Madison Martinez and Ari Redmond will kick things off at state. In the regional, the Lions won the event in 9 minutes, 12.45 seconds.
"It's really an honor to win regionals," Steigerwald said. "We've been working so hard for this and seeing our hard work show results is really rewarding. We want to put together the best possible relay that we can (at state)."
Running semifinals will follow Friday, June 2, and field events and running finals for all other events will be held the next day.
Also coming off regional titles are the 1,600 relay of senior Ivy McKee, Deas, Martinez and freshman Alexi Thigpen (3:49.08) and senior Benja Duff in the 100 hurdles (14.37).
Martinez was regional runner-up in the 800 (2:09.31), and also taking second were Duff in the 300 hurdles (43.17), the 400 relay of Duff, McKee, Thigpen and freshman Shaina Rutledge (47.65) and the 800 relay of McKee, Rutledge, junior Amariah Thomas and Thigpen (1:40.53).
The other state qualifiers were Deas in the 800 (third, 2:11.08), Steigerwald in the 3,200 (third, 10:51.03), Thomas in the 200 (third, 24.85) and 100 (fourth, 12.09), sophomore Bronte Johnson in the discus (fourth, 121 feet, 9 inches) and Thigpen in the 400 (fourth, 56.82).
Also competing at regional were McKee in the 200 (seventh, 25.51), Brooke Johnson in the shot put (ninth, 35-11 1/2), Nia Chandler in the high jump (ninth, 5-0), Natalie Clay in the 1,600 (ninth, 5:15.12), Rhea Lanier in the shot put (15th, 32-6 3/4) and Courtney Owens in the 300 hurdles (14th, 49.7).
"Going in, I thought we had a pretty good shot (to win the regional)," coach Roger Whittaker said. "There's a lot of quality girls on the team. I said going in that we were going to score 95 points, and we scored 97. The girls are good about understanding what they have to do and not making silly mistakes."
Boys track team
preps for state
The boys track team also advanced a large contingent to state.
At regional, three relays and two individuals moved on, and the Lions placed fourth (55) behind champion Thomas Worthington (73) as 37 teams scored.
"Trying to win (the regional team title) wasn't necessarily the goal," coach Shawn Johnston said. "I thought we got what we wanted through to state. The (400 relay) broke the regional record."
Heading into state as regional champions are the 400 relay of senior Jayvonta Tolliver, juniors Jerome Buckner and Joseph Gathuru and sophomore LaCarr Trent (41.51) and the 800 relay of the same foursome (1:27.0).
Trent added a runner-up finish in the 100 (10.77), senior Dontae Deas took third in the 300 hurdles (38.63) and the 1,600 relay of Buckner, Gathuru, Tolliver and sophomore Kelly Wilson also was third (3:20.01).
Since Trent placed 10th at regional in the 200 (22.08) to come up short of advancing, he could be another option in the 1,600 relay.
Also scoring at regional were Solomon Costa in the 1,600 (sixth, 4:19.76), Brendon Cox in the shot put (fifth, 51-8 3/4) and discus (eighth, 139-8), Deas in the 110 hurdles (fifth, 14.74) and Tolliver in the 400 (sixth, 48.75).
Also competing were Gathuru in the 400 (13th, 51.47), Jason Mehalic in the 3,200 (13th, 10:10.45), Kevin Opoku in the long jump (20-2) and the 3,200 relay of Costa, Connor Ingram, Jaire Latta and Andrew Ray (12th, 8:13.77).
Baseball team falls
in regional final
The baseball team settled for a Division I regional runner-up finish for the second consecutive season.
After beating Big Walnut 11-0 in a regional semifinal May 26 at Dublin Coffman as senior pitcher Jackson Wolf tossed a no-hitter, the Lions built a three-run lead but lost to Olentangy Orange 4-3 in a regional final the next day at Coffman.
Gahanna finished 17-8 overall.
Orange's Tyler Brown doubled off the top of the center-field fence in the bottom of the seventh to drive in the winning run.
The Lions made it 2-0 in the first when junior Jarod White (1B) had an RBI groundout and senior Josh Oddi (3B) doubled in senior Cael Baker (C).
Oddi also had an RBI groundout in the third. Junior Mitch Megias, who was the team's No. 2 pitcher most of the season, went the first five innings.
"You've got to keep scoring runs, and after the first couple innings, we didn't," coach Mike Shade said. "Mitch attacked the hitters. We just didn't do enough defensively."
The seven-member senior class was led by Baker and Wolf, who will play for Cincinnati and West Virginia, respectively. Both were first-team all-league, and Baker was named the state's Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Gahanna tied Pickerington Central for second in the OCC-Ohio at 8-6, behind Grove City (14-0) and ahead of Lancaster (6-8), Pickerington North (5-9) and Reynoldsburg (1-13).
The Lions were seeded seventh for the district tournament and beat 38th-seeded Groveport 3-1 on May 10, 15th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 10-0 on May 16 at Upper Arlington and Olentangy 11-10 in a district final May 18 at Coffman.
Oddi and White were second-team all-league, Megias made special mention and junior Mason Coleman (CF) was honorable mention.
Others eligible to return include juniors Karter Johnson (OF), Devon Lee (OF) and Peter Sergakis (2B), sophomores Noah Laurent (SS) and Johnathon Novinec (P) and freshman Alex Streitenberger (INF/DH/P)
Most of volleyball
team to return
There were just two seniors in the boys volleyball program, and Ryan Hawkins (middle hitter) and Shane Salopek (outside hitter/right-side hitter) both missed time because of injuries or school activities.
The sixth-seeded Lions lost to seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome 25-12, 23-25, 25-20, 26-24 on May 20 in the second round of the Division I East Region tournament.
"We had just two seniors, and we definitely improved every time we hit the court," coach Mike Sage said. "We ended up 11-14 overall, but we scheduled a pretty competitive schedule."
Hawkins was special mention all-OCC-Ohio as the Lions went 6-4 to tie Pickerington North for second behind Hilliard Davidson (10-0) and ahead of Pickerington Central (5-5), Coffman (2-8) and Upper Arlington (1-9).
Among those eligible to return are juniors Preston Brown (setter), Russell Burke (outside hitter), Mitchell Osment (defensive specialist), Derek Sally (outside hitter) and Matthew Scurlock (middle hitter) and sophomores Adam Chandoul (setter), Andrew Lau (middle hitter), Logan McDonald (libero) and Mason Milan (right-side hitter).
Burke was first-team all-league and second-team all-region. Scurlock was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, and McDonald was honorable mention all-league.
According to Sage, Burke led in kills and serving aces, Scurlock led in blocks and McDonald led in digs and serve-receive.
Gahanna hires coaches
for hockey, wrestling
Gahanna has filled its coaching vacancies in hockey and wrestling.
Kevin Schodorf, who played for Orange before graduating in 2010, is taking over the hockey program after J.J. Stallsworth stepped down at season's end.
Steve Sommer, who has been Dresden Tri-Valley's coach, is the new wrestling coach after Matt Hammons resigned after his only season.
Schodorf is a Gahanna resident and teacher at Lincoln Elementary.
In six seasons under Stalls-worth, the Lions went 87-98-13.
"I'm most impressed with coach Schodorf's vision of the hockey program progressing into a respectable mainstay in the upper tier of central Ohio hockey," athletics director Dustin Cullen said. "He greatly values respect for teammates, opponents and the game of hockey. He realizes hockey is a great way to teach life lessons to the young men and women in our program."
Sommer wrestled at Iowa Central Community College and Ohio State and gained college coaching experience before becoming Tri-Valley's coach.
"Steve comes highly recommended as someone who gets the most of his wrestlers," Cullen said. "I got very excited for coach Sommer's passion to build the program from the youth through the high school."