Madeline Barnes and Siobhan Szerencsits of the Olentangy High School girls track and field team don't necessarily set out to intimidate their opponents, but they're fine with that being a side effect of their pole vaulting.
"I think people see both of us wearing the same jersey and they get a little threatened when they see the two of us. That's a lot of fun," Barnes said. "People have mentioned it to us a few times. They see Olentangy jerseys and they know we are good at (vaulting)."
That is an enduring theme for the Braves program, which advanced at least one pole vaulter to the Division I state meet for the third consecutive year.
Szerencsits was second (12 feet, 4 inches) and Barnes was fourth (12-0) at regional May 26 at Pickerington North. In the boys pole vault May 24, Kyle Brookshire cleared 14-2 to win the regional championship.
"We push each other so much," Barnes said. "We have competed together every meet for the past three years now. I think it makes it a lot more fun coming into meets and having a teammate with you."
The top four finishers in each event advanced to state Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State.
Szerencsits cleared 12-4 on her first attempt May 26.
"I figured I'd have to get over 12 somewhere, but I came in thinking I needed to be consistent with my jumps and (be) clean throughout," she said. "If that happened, I figured I would be OK."
With the regional championship and his second consecutive state berth in hand, Brookshire narrowly missed vaulting 14-8.
"The goal was just to get to state. The height was just about me trying to do my best," he said. "There was a lot of pressure, but I was just trying to do what I could through practice and working hard. I'd love to do 14-6 at state again and get on the podium (with a top-eight finish), but I can just do what I can do."
They will be joined at state by the boys team's Anthony Sasso, who was third in the 800 meters in 1 minute, 54.03 seconds, and the 1,600 relay of Zach Balthaser, Jeremy Kendle, Joel Michael and Sasso, which was fourth in a school-record 3:20.47.
"I knew (the 800) would be a fast race," Sasso said. "I just didn't know how fast the race would be. (My time) was better than I thought. I have been plateauing out the past few meets so I was a little worried about that going in, but I improved by two seconds or so. I was impressed with that."
The boys finished ninth (24 points) behind champion Thomas Worthington (73) as 37 teams scored. The girls were 16th (16) behind champion Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored.
Also competing but failing to advance for the boys were the 3,200 relay (seventh, 8:01.39) with Balthaser, Kendle, Grant Maddox and Sasso, Balthaser in the 800 (eighth, 1:56.72) and the 400 relay (11th, 43.74) of Balthaser, Jaden Konadu, Michael and Sasso.
Holly Nation of the girls team was sixth in the high jump (5-3).
Boys lacrosse team
falls to Patriots
In a seesaw Division I, Region 1 final that saw the boys lacrosse team take a 2-0 lead in the first quarter, only to have the game later be tied five times, Olentangy lost 13-6 to top-seeded Liberty on May 27 at Thomas.
Sam Monastra scored two goals, and Riley Bruening, Patrick Grubb, Kyle Milliron each scored once as the second-seeded Braves finished 15-6. Monastra tied the game at 5 with 3 seconds left in the first half, and Milliron's goal made it 6-all with 8:57 left in the third quarter, but Olentangy did not score again.
The Braves advanced with a 14-2 home win over third-seeded Orange in a regional semifinal May 24.
"I can't take anything away from (Liberty's) guys. That's a great lacrosse team and we have two great programs," coach Zach Peterson said. "Schematically, both of us have grown a ton throughout the year. ... They work it very well dynamically and mix in their role players. My hat's off to them. They executed very well."
Tennis team's Brdicka
goes 0-1 at state
Stu Brdicka of the boys tennis team finished a 25-2 season with a first-round loss in the Division I state tournament, falling 2-6, 6-0, 6-4 to Solon's Vlad Rotnov on May 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Brdicka, a junior who started this season 24-0, was making his second appearance at state. He advanced in doubles as a freshman.
"(Rotnov's) serve was pretty big," Brdicka said. "He kept it deeper and was more consistent. I knew he was a baseline grinder and didn't miss much so my game plan was to hit it to his forehand.
"I'm very pleased with the season. We finished 15-3, which was better than we thought it would be."
Olentangy went 4-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish second behind Orange (5-0) and ahead of Liberty (3-2), Westerville Central (2-3), Westerville North (1-4) and Westerville South (0-5).
Brdicka won the singles championship in a sectional that concluded May 13 at Upper Arlington. Junior Alex Konstan was third in singles, and the doubles team of seniors Pradhit Gosula and Alex Ulry was third to advance to the district tournament that concluded May 20 at UA.
Brdicka then finished third at district to advance to state.
Volleyball team falls
in regional final
The boys volleyball team lost in a Division I East Region final for the second consecutive year to a familiar foe.
Second-seeded Westerville South swept third-seeded Olentangy 25-21, 25-22, 25-21 on May 26 at Westerville Central, the Braves' third loss to their OCC-Buckeye rivals this year.
Olentangy, which finished 23-4 overall, bolted to an early lead in the third game and scored four consecutive points in the third to hold off match point, but South eventually survived.
"To be successful, we had to be consistent and not get into those valleys," coach Karen Kochheiser said. "We had a good showing. We started with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
"We have such a young group of guys, so our biggest issue is always consistency. We will play well, then we drop off in the course of a set. Having mostly juniors on the court makes it different."
The Braves had only one senior, outside hitter/right-side hitter Bradley Cluff.
Olentangy advanced in the 19-team tournament with wins over visiting and 13th-seeded UA (25-13, 25-9, 25-19 in a first-round match May 20) and ninth-seeded Pickerington North (25-17, 25-13, 25-22 in a regional semifinal May 23 at South).
The Braves went 6-2 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish second behind South (8-0) and ahead of Liberty and Westerville North (both 3-5) and Central (0-8).
Junior libero Bentley Azbell was named first-team all-league and all-region. Junior middle blocker/outside hitter Aaric Gossett and junior middle hitter Mitchell Postak were second-team all-league, junior middle hitter Jack Spohn was special mention all-league and Cluff was honorable mention all-league.
Postak and Spohn were honorable mention all-region.
Gossett battled a right ankle injury for the final week of the season, missing the win over Pickerington North but returning for the regional final.