Eight members of the Thomas Worthington High School boys track and field team will compete in a combined eight events in the Division I state meet Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State.
The Cardinals won the title in the regional meet held May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North, scoring 73 points to hold off runner-up Pickerington Central (67) as 37 teams scored.
"I try not to (watch the scoreboard)," coach Bill Darling said. "It doesn't help the scores any. I knew (winning regional) was possible, but at a regional so many things are out of your control. There were a lot of events we didn't have anybody in. We just had to do the best we could.
"I knew if things fell our way, there was a chance (of a team championship). You don't coach to win this meet. You coach to get kids on to state."
It was Thomas' first regional title since 2011.
"The teams we were able to beat are some of the best in the state," Darling said. "To come out on top against these teams is an incredible accomplishment.
"We have a complete team. We scored in the throws. We scored in jumps. We scored in distance. Thomas Worthington was all over the track, and that's a great feeling to have a team that can compete in any area of a meet."
Arjun Jha won the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 10.33 seconds) and anchored the winning 3,200 relay (7:50.3) behind Ty Banks, Joshua Allen and Andrew Morgan. The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
"Going in, I knew the (1,600) field was full of talented guys who were all going to give their all," Jha said. "We're all trying to get to state and it's do or die at this point, so I wanted it to be an honest race. It felt a little slower than I like at the beginning, but after the first lap, it was really all about racing and just trusting my gut and giving it my all. I think I did that pretty well and I'm excited to see what I can do (at state).
"My time was around one of my best miles ever. I feel fit and I'm confident in my racing abilities because this is a great field and I was able to pull it out."
Cade Richeson placed second in the discus (162 feet, 6 inches) and third in the shot put (52-1), and Khalil Jones was second in the long jump (21-10). Kainan Ramsey was fourth in both the 100 (10.82) and 200 (21.78), and Andrew Payne placed fourth in the 3,200 (9:16.59).
"I felt good, but my release was off and I'm not sure why," Richeson said of his performance in the shot put. "I threw 55-9 at district. But I'm going to state (for the first time), so I have one more shot. I want to show what I can do."
Also scoring at regional were Antoine Cole in the pole vault (fifth, 12-6), Jones in the 300 hurdles (fifth, 39.48), Morgan in the 800 (fifth, 1:54.81) and the 1,600 relay of Zander Wigney, Theory Schroder, Jha and Banks (fifth, 3:20.95).
"We scored in the 800 when we weren't expecting it, and another one who came through was pole vaulter Antoine Cole, even though he didn't advance," Darling said. "All of those little things added up."
The girls track and field team will be represented in the Division I state meet in two events, led by Gia Napoleon.
The sophomore won the 800 at regional in a meet-record 2:08.23. The previous mark of 2:10.34 was set by New Albany's Taneisha Cordell in 2011.
"I did not know what the (regional) record was, but I am going for the state record next week," Napoleon said. "That's 2:07, I'm pretty sure. I ran a 2:08 (at district) as well, so seeing I can do that two weeks in a row, I am looking forward to going for the state record."
The state-meet record in the 800 is 2:07.27, set by Chardon's Rachel Banks in 2015. The state record in the event is 2:07.04, set by Geneva's Brittani Aveni last season.
Napoleon also anchored the fourth-place 3,200 relay (9:20.9) behind Christina Nash, Hannah Moulton and Cassidy Shavers at regional.
"After I won the indoor state meet (in the 800 on March 4 at the University of Akron), I think I gained a lot of confidence in racing there and from what I did last year during track," said Napoleon, who placed sixth in the 800 (2:12.8) at state last season. "Going in (to regional), my goal was to have fun and do well."
The Cardinals totaled 33 points at regional to finish fifth behind champion Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored.
Placing fifth were Jazzlynn Gaiters in the 400 (57.93), Sarah Charley in the long jump (17-3 1/4) and the 1,600 relay of Napoleon, Charley, Breanne Beatty and Allyicia Diggs-Hall (3:54.87). The 800 relay of Charley, Kiara Coleman, Diggs-Hall and Kyra Griffith placed sixth (1:44.04), Beatty was seventh in the 300 hurdles (15.64) and Lauren Hitt was eighth in the discus (115-8).
Girls lacrosse team
ousted by Bears
The girls lacrosse team lost to top-seeded Upper Arlington 20-6 in the Division I, Region 3 final May 26 at Olentangy to finish 17-4 overall.
The second-seeded Cardinals also lost to the Golden Bears during the regular season, falling 16-7 on April 4.
UA, the two-time defending state champion, improved to 17-2 and played in a state semifinal May 30.
The Bears dominated faceoffs to turn a 1-all tie into a 10-2 lead during an eight-minute stretch in the first half.
"We played too much on defense because (UA) won the faceoffs consistently," coach Scott Hamilton said. "Let's face it, (UA is) really, really good. They move the ball well and they were better than us today, for sure."
Tori Banks and Erin Baumann both scored two goals and Timi Cole made nine saves for Thomas, which defeated third-seeded Dublin Jerome 15-5 in a regional semifinal May 23 at home.
Against Jerome, Banks had five goals, Addie Hamilton and Jenna Rao both scored four and Baumann scored two.
Thomas reached the semifinal by beating 14th-seeded Marysville 19-0 in the first round May 16 and seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby 19-3 in a quarterfinal May 19.
The Cardinals won the OCC-Cardinal Division title, going 6-0 to finish ahead of Jerome (5-1), Kilbourne (4-2), Darby (3-3), Hilliard Bradley (2-4), Dublin Scioto (1-5) and Delaware (0-6).
In addition to the two losses to UA, Thomas lost to DeSales 8-7 in its season opener March 18 and lost to Massillon Jackson 14-9 in its regular-season finale May 13. All three teams reached the state semifinals -- DeSales in Division II and Jackson and UA in Division I.
The Cardinals are losing 10 seniors, including six starters in Baumann, Hamilton, Rao, Riley Godard, Abbie Miller and Dejah Roberts.
Among the expected returnees are juniors Banks, Cole and Julia Geiger and sophomores Reilly Ford, Rachel Rinaldi and Sylvia Strange.
"It was an awesome season," coach Hamilton said. "We played well and we played great teams. The girls got better every day in practice and in just about every game we played. I'm very proud of them and where this program is headed. (The tournament loss) was a flyer in the way we played this year. They had a good day and we had a bad day."