Malachi McGill was breathing hard following the 800 meters, but he left his competitors in the event gasping for air, as he won the Division I state title June 3 at Ohio State.
The freshman for the Hilliard Darby High School boys track and field team led virtually from start to finish and held off several challengers, finishing in 1 minute, 53.28 seconds.
But he didn't flash a smile until after spending about five minutes in the competitors' cool-down tent.
"I'm so tired; I gave it 110 percent," McGill said. "I looked at the (scoreboard) with about 200 (meters) left and saw they were still right there. I knew I had to keep going strong to keep them off my heels. I just sprinted as hard as I could."
Granville's Jonny Lukins (1:53.48), Lancaster's Andy Ferris (1:53.79) and Centerville's Andrew Craig (1:53.8) were right behind McGill, and the top six finished within one second of one another.
Of those six runners, only McGill and Craig are eligible to return next season.
"I always practice hard and try to push myself and this is why," McGill said. "I'm just so tired right now. It doesn't help that we didn't run in (warmer) weather like this until the past week."
McGill, who won the regional title in 1:52.8, was the lone state competitor for Darby and totaled 10 points as the Panthers tied five teams for 19th behind champion Thomas Worthington (36) as 80 teams scored.
In the regional meet May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North, the Panthers finished eighth (28) behind champion Thomas (73) as 37 teams scored.
McGill teamed with seniors Eric Ingram and Carter Williams and junior Josh Baldridge to place fifth in the 3,200 relay (8:00.16), finishing one spot shy of a state berth.
Also scoring at regional were the 1,600 relay of Williams, McGill, Ingram and senior Jared Butler (sixth, 3:20.99), Williams in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 40.32), Ingram in the 300 hurdles (seventh, 40.61), senior Andrew Black in both the long jump (seventh, 20 feet, 2 inches) and 110 hurdles (seventh, 14.88) and sophomore Chris Burkhart in the discus (seventh, 142-0).
In the 14-team district 3 meet that concluded May 20, host Darby finished third (113) behind Pickerington Central (154.5) and Westerville South (115), as McGill won the 800 (1:53.69) and the 3,200 relay won in 8:06.45.
The Panthers placed second (155) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet May 11 and 13 at Dublin Coffman, behind Thomas (192) and ahead of Bradley (85), Dublin Jerome (75.5), Delaware (51), Dublin Scioto (44.5) and Worthington Kilbourne (22).
Winning league titles were Black in the 110 hurdles (15.01), Williams in the 300 hurdles (39.56), McGill in the 400 (49.72), Butler in the high jump (6-3), the 800 relay of Williams, Black, junior Clint Barnett and senior Malcolm Mock (1:29.16) and the 1,600 relay of Williams, Butler, senior Cesar Chamorro and Ingram (3:26.56).
Other expected returnees include juniors Dylan Litreal and Dylan Newport, sophomores Kris Day, Owen Martin and Solomon Toliver and freshman Zach Vent.
all-state for girls
Freshman Emma Kowalski of the girls track and field team finished eighth in the discus (126-1) in the Division I state meet June 2 to reach the podium and earn all-state honors.
Kowalski earned one point for the Panthers, who tied eight teams for 54th behind champion Cincinnati Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.
"It was a great day for Emma," coach Don Seymour said. "To reach the podium as a freshman is just outstanding. All of the girls that finished ahead of her were seniors, so what she did was outstanding."
Throws coach Henry Brown said Kowalski doesn't think like a freshman.
"Emma is a very hard worker and she's consistent with her mind and very dedicated to her sport," Brown said. "Her concentration level is very good for a freshman. Most freshmen reach this level and their concentration and nerves get to them, but she's been on top of it all season long.
"She did everything she was supposed to do in terms of lifting and running, and I know we'll continue to work with her and she's going to have a chance to be very special."
Also at state, the 800 relay of freshmen Zayna Hampton and Naomi Walters, senior Jillian Simpson and sophomore Stacia Rispress finished 11th in 1:42.83. Canton McKinley (1:42.04) earned the ninth and last berth for the final.
"With two freshmen and a sophomore on the team and they barely missed the finals," Seymour said.
At regional, Kowalski placed second in the discus (132-0) and the 800 relay was fourth (1:42.16).
Also scoring at regional were senior Lauren Iosue in the discus (sixth, 118-2), Kowalski in the shot put (seventh, 36-6 1/2) and Simpson in the 400 (seventh, 58.67), as Darby scored 22 points to place 13th behind champion Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored.
Kowalski (discus, 125-1) and sophomores Stacia Rispress (high jump, 5-3) and Maliyah Ellis (long jump, 16-10 3/4) won titles in the 16-team district 3 meet, as the Panthers finished second (130) to Pickerington Central (161).
Darby won the OCC-Cardinal championship, scoring 189 points to finish ahead of Thomas (143), Scioto (91), Delaware (72), Bradley (51), Kilbourne (44) and Jerome (41) as Rispress won both the 100 (12.75) and high jump (5-1) and Kowalski won the discus (123-4).
Others expected to return include juniors Abby Cannon and Regan Carsey, sophomores Haile Cruz and Sydney Wyngarden and freshmen Emma McDaniel, Ariana Parquette, Daniella Santos, Mikenna Spring and Jane Vulic.
"Overall, with the talent we showed this year, the future looks pretty promising," Seymour said. "This was our smallest team ever with 66 girls. We lose four or five seniors who scored on a regular basis, but we'll miss the leadership of all of our seniors."
Boys volleyball team
falls in state final
The boys volleyball team was not sharp in the Division I state final and paid for it by losing to Cleveland St. Ignatius 25-18, 26-24, 25-19 on June 4 at Capital University.
The Panthers, who were making their 12th consecutive appearance in the state tournament, defeated Cincinnati Elder 25-18, 11-25, 25-19, 25-18 in a semifinal earlier in the day after beating Lakewood St. Edward 25-10, 25-11, 25-9 in a quarterfinal June 3.
Darby finished 25-5 overall.
"In a lot of seasons, being state runner-up would be a tremendous accomplishment, but this group was special and we all really felt nothing was going to stop us from winning it all," coach Bryan Webb said. "So, this one hurts all of us. Unfortunately, we picked a bad time to not play our best, not play at the level we've played at most of the season."
Darby made 31 errors and the majority of them were unforced, according to Webb.
"We made far too many unforced errors, which is uncharacteristic for this team," he said. "It was not indicative of the season we had. But credit St. Ignatius. They were the best team here in the past two days, without a doubt.
"... It wasn't so much (St. Ignatius) digging everything we hit, it's that we weren't giving them enough to dig. Our hitting was off. Then we tightened up and weren't swinging as hard. But I believe if we play them 10 times, we likely go 5-5. It just wasn't our best match."
The Panthers were the top seed in the East Region and beat 15th-seeded Delaware 25-8, 25-14, 25-10 on May 19 and eighth-seeded Pickerington Central 25-10, 25-9, 25-7 on May 23 before defeating seventh-seeded Jerome 25-12, 25-10, 25-12 in a regional final May 26.
Darby won its 18th consecutive league title, going 12-0 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish ahead of Scioto (10-2), Jerome (8-4), Bradley (6-6), Kilbourne (4-8), Delaware (2-10) and Thomas (0-12).
The Panthers are losing six seniors in Robert Bowling (outside hitter), Brad Brinkerhoff (outside hitter), Wyatt Lee (defensive specialist), Logan Mills (defensive specialist), Mason Moldovan (middle blocker) and Alex Salmons (libero).
Brinkerhoff was named state, region and league Player of the Year. Moldovan was second-team all-state and first-team all-region and Bowling was honorable mention all-region.
Junior Collin Buelow (right-side hitter), sophomore Nick Hermosilla (opposite hitter) and freshman Noah Platfoot (setter) are expected to be the top returnees next season.
Platfoot was honorable mention all-region.