One day during preseason conditioning, Beechcroft High School girls track and field coach Mike Moncrief got a heads-up regarding a newcomer to his program.
Makiya Montgomery, a freshman, has achieved well beyond what Moncrief was expecting when he first found out about her interest in competing for the Cougars.
On June 3 at Ohio State, Montgomery captured the Division II state championship in the 100 meters (11.98 seconds) and placed in two other events to score 23 points and help the Cougars finish sixth behind champion Beachwood (35) as 75 teams scored.
"As a ninth-grader, what she's done is just remarkable," Moncrief said. "When she started doing her workouts, the boys coach was down conditioning for indoor and calls me and says, 'You may have something special here.' We talked about goals, and she's so humble about it. She's so talented. She loves the 100 and the 200."
Montgomery followed her performance in the 100 by placing fourth in the 400 (56.1) and then earned a runner-up finish in the 200 (24.8).
She won the 100 (12.08) and 200 (24.57) and was runner-up in the 400 (56.68) at the regional meet May 25 and 27 at Lexington to qualify in three events for the state meet, which began June 2.
"(It's) exciting," Montgomery said. "I'm blessed. It's just been practice, more practice, working out, drinking water, staying hydrated. (My goal was) to either win or be runner-up. It's exciting. I'm happy I was able to make it here. In the 100, I can just give it my all and have no regrets."
Montgomery began the season by battling shin splints in her right leg but proved to be one of the stars of the City League meet May 8 and 10 at Africentric, winning the 100 (12.17) and 200 (24.84) and taking second in the 400 (1:00.72).
That success continued into the postseason as she won the 100 (12.23), 200 (25.22) and 400 (58.0) in the district meet that concluded May 20 at Westerville South.
"I did what I had to do to make sure I came back (from shin splints)," Montgomery said. "To be (at state) as a freshman and be able to compete against sophomores, juniors and seniors, I'm very thankful."
shine for Vikings
A week after setting the Northland girls track and field program record in the 800 relay, the Vikings topped that finish again at the Division I state meet.
On June 3 at Ohio State, juniors Jordan Saffold, Charlea Henley, Jeana Weatherspoon and Iyanna Ross ran 1:40.2 to finish fourth behind Dublin Coffman (1:38.34), Cincinnati Withrow (1:38.88) and Gahanna (1:39.74).
At regional held May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North, the 800 relay was third (1:40.75), behind Coffman (1:40.15) and Gahanna (1:40.53).
After scoring 17 points to place 15th at regional behind champion Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored, Northland tied for 30th (8) at state behind champion Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.
Henley also reached the state podium in the long jump, placing sixth in 17 feet, 9 1/4 inches.
"We set the school record (in the 800 relay) at the regional and came back and broke our own record," Saffold said. "We just want to say thanks to our coaches for helping us."
Henley was the regional runner-up in the long jump (17-4 1/2). She was unable to compete in the postseason last year because of a hamstring injury.
"I'm happy but I'm not satisfied with it because I know I can do better," Henley said.
Also at regional, Ross placed sixth in the 400 (58.09) and the 1,600 relay of Henley, Ross, senior Monet Martinez and sophomore Michole Martinez was 12th (4:13.61).
The Northland boys team didn't have any state qualifiers after scoring four points at regional to tie for 28th behind champion Thomas Worthington (73) as 37 teams scored.
Freshman Kalil Branham placed seventh in the 400 (50.09), the 400 relay of senior Albert Adusei, junior Mike Williams and sophomores J.J. Branham and Mark Lee was eighth (43.94), sophomore Jesse Prewitt finished eighth in the long jump (20-2) and Williams was 11th in the 200 (22.78).
Scots relay finishes
third at state meet
Four Walnut Ridge seniors capped their prep careers at the Division I state boys track and field meet June 3.
After recording the third-best time (1:28.26) during preliminaries June 2, the 800 relay of seniors Michael Ayers, Darrick Forrest, Shacqueel Gordon and Eric Knights took third (1:28.3) in the final the next day.
The six points the relay scored gave Walnut Ridge a 33rd-place tie behind champion Thomas Worthington (36) as 80 teams scored.
Forrest has committed to play football at the University of Cincinnati and Ayers will play for Ashland after helping the Scots go 6-4 last fall.
76ers' Stanford ends
prep career at state
Getting to the Division II state girls track and field meet felt like a reward to Independence senior Khendori Stanford for all the hard work she put forth.
After living in Mansfield as a freshman, Stanford was unable to compete in track as a sophomore because of the birth of her son, Khenneth.
After having missed qualifying for state by one spot last season, Stanford placed third (12.58) at regional May 27 at Lexington to become the program's first state qualifier since Ahkila Binford made it in Division I in 2010.
At state June 2, Stanford finished 11th in the 100 (12.52).
"I couldn't run my sophomore year because I had my son, and then last year I only made it to the regional final," Stanford said. "This is my first time ever being on this track. I got a glimpse of it over spring break and was like, 'Ooh, I want to go to state.' I can say I tried harder this year than I ever have before. I pushed myself harder."
Stanford plans to attend Wright State, where she plans to walk on to the track program.
"It's been a long time since we've had someone run at state for the girls team," coach Kurtis Posey said. "I don't think anybody knew who she was coming into (this season). She's been strong and steady, so that's been a good thing."
team wins City title
A 13-5 victory over Centennial on May 26 gave the Eastmoor Academy softball team its first City championship since 2005, and the Warriors aren't planning to take a step back next season.
Junior Averi Brown, the Warriors' pitcher and one of eight players in the lineup to get at least one hit against the Stars, leads a program that started just two seniors in the City final in Tiara Hill (OF/3B) and Siriah McCauley (C/OF).
Eastmoor finished 17-5 overall, including beating Briggs 13-1 on May 17 in a one-game playoff after the Bruins and Warriors had gone 13-1 in the City-South.
McCauley hit .390 with 17 RBI and 17 runs scored.
"We had five seniors, but a couple of them were utility players," coach Travis Clodfelter said. "We're returning a boatload of juniors."
Brown batted .571, had team-best totals of seven home runs and 36 RBI and tied sophomore Mallory Barnes (SS/OF) for the most runs scored with 35. Barnes led the team in batting average (.673) and had 27 RBI.
Junior Simone Brown (INF/OF) batted .463, freshman Paige Barnes (1B/OF/P) hit .533 with 19 RBI and 34 runs and junior Kennadee Dixon (OF/designated player) batted .509 with 33 RBI.
Averi Brown went 14-5 in the circle with a 3.21 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings, including striking out 15 in the City championship game.
"We're actually a year behind schedule in my opinion," Clodfelter said. "Last year we slipped up against Independence and (ended up second in the City-South). This was expected this year. We were expecting to go to the City championship game."