Westland High School junior Trent Bott left the Division I regional boys track and field meet May 26 at Pickerington North already thinking about a return trip next season.
Competing in his first regional, Bott fouled on all three of his attempts in the shot put, closing a successful season on a disappointing note.
"It was nice to get the experience," he said. "Hopefully I get back there next year and I can move on (to state)."
Bott's season included establishing personal bests in the shot put and discus. He turned in a personal-best 48 feet, 11 1/4 inches in the shot put to finish third in the district 2 meet May 16 at Hilliard Darby as the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional.
Bott threw a personal-best 142-6 in the discus while finishing first in a five-team meet April 25 at Central Crossing.
He credits coach Tim Eckard for his development in the sport.
"A lot of the times it's a mental thing," Bott said. "(Eckard) knows what to say to calm me down and get me back on track to where I should be."
Bott also is a standout on the football field for the Cougars at left tackle. He has received interest from colleges but has yet to pick a school.
Westland did not score at regional and finished 14th (11 points) of 15 teams at district behind champion Gahanna (151).
Senior Curtiss Shore finished seventh in the discus at district with a season-best effort of 129-4. Senior Mohamed Farah was sixth in the 3,200 meters (10 minutes, 12.68 seconds) and sophomore Mamadu Nabe was ninth in the long jump (20-2 1/2).
In the OCC-Central Division meet May 11 and 13 at Dublin Coffman, the Cougars (35) finished behind Coffman (160), Hilliard Davidson (133), Marysville (80), Upper Arlington (69) and Central Crossing (44). Bott was second in the shot put (47-8) and third in the discus (125-10), and Nabe was third in the long jump (20-1/2).
Other key athletes eligible to return include junior E.J. Rondez (distance), sophomores Abdi Aden (hurdles, long jump, sprints), Isaiah Dukes (sprints), Kevin Reyes (middle distance, distance), Timmy Wotring (hurdles, distance) and Arty Washington (sprints) and freshman Moussa Diallo (sprints, long jump).
"I am pleased with how hard our kids worked and the progress that we made this year," Eckard said. "Like every year, there are highs and lows, and that goes with the territory of coaching. The highs every year include building relationships with wonderful young men and women that will in many cases last a lifetime."
While the boys team loses three seniors, the girls team loses only one.
The girls' season ended in the district 3 meet that concluded May 20 at Darby. Juniors Stephanie Buruca and Kaela Ponce and sophomores Payton Compton and Aja Nathans were ninth in the 3,200 relay (11:24.8).
In the league meet, Westland (10) finished behind Davidson (156), Coffman (146.5), Marysville (100.5), UA (80) and Central Crossing (28). Sophomore Vanessa Evans was fourth in the high jump (4-8).
The Cougars' only loss to graduation is sprinter Brooke Reid, who closed out a four-year career with the program.
"Even with all the fond memories, it's more how much did I learn from my coaches and how much they taught me even outside of track," Reid said.
Other key athletes eligible to return include juniors Katelyn France (throws) and Gabby Helser (sprints), sophomore Taylor Dilley (shot put) and freshmen Olivia Schumacher (throws) and Nichole Tedder (jumps).
"This was a wonderful group of kids ... to work with and from that standpoint, it was a very successful year," Eckard said of the boys and girls.
Coach: Softball team
The softball team finished 1-17 overall under first-year coach Sarah Shellenbarger, but had no seniors.
The Cougars' win came against Northland, 11-1 in five innings in the season opener March 28.
Seeded 41st for the Division I district tournament, the Cougars lost at 18th-seeded Delaware 18-5 in five innings in the first round May 8.
Westland went 0-10 in the OCC-Central to finish behind Central Crossing (9-1), Davidson (8-2), Marysville (7-3), Coffman (3-7) and UA (3-7).
Leading the way next season should be junior pitcher Emily Spohn and junior catcher Noelle Salyer.
"As the season went on, the team improved a lot," Spohn said. "At the beginning of the year, no one was catching pop flies and toward the end of the year you saw people diving after balls that you would have never expected at the beginning of the year."
Spohn was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and Salyer was special mention all-league.
Junior Emily Smith (1B) was honorable mention all-league.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Kaitlyn Fout (3B), Taylor Hay (OF), Caroline Holobaugh (INF) and Aliyah Mitchell (INF), sophomores Anna Baker (INF), Madison Green (INF) and Makenzie Tighe (OF) and freshmen Sydnee Avila (OF), Danielle Fout (OF), Destiny Fout (OF), Bailey Garner (OF), Brianna Kaylor (OF) and Shayla Trimmer (INF).