Hunter Moore wasn't going to be fooled again.
After being out-kicked by Pickerington Central's Matt Scrape one week earlier at regional, the senior for the Olentangy Orange High School boys track and field team held on to win the 3,200 meters in the Division I state meet June 3 at Ohio State.
With the victory in a program-record 8 minutes, 58.47 seconds, Moore became Orange's first boys state champion. The Pioneers have never had a boys team champion, and the girls golf program won the school's only state team title last fall in Division I.
"My school has never had a boys state champ and I wanted to get that done," said Moore, an Eastern Michigan signee. "It was a four-year work in progress. It's the best and it's the worst, too, because it's my last race."
Moore held off Scrape (9:00.87) after he was second (9:02.51) behind Scrape (9:02.07) in the regional that concluded May 26 at Pickerington North.
"I let (Scrape) out-kick me (at regional), and I wasn't going to let him do that this time," Moore said. "I knew he would be there again."
The Pioneers also finished a program-best fourth (25 points) at state as 80 teams scored. The top five teams were from the Central District, with Thomas Worthington (36) winning ahead of Gahanna (31), Canal Winchester (29), Orange and Reynoldsburg (24).
"We knew the Central District was strong and our region was tough," coach Adam Walters said. "It shows the challenge that it took just to get out of our region. There were a lot of kids from our region on the (state) podium."
Walters wondered how the Pioneers would have fared had they not been without sophomore Zach Harrison. In the final leg of the 800 relay preliminary June 2, Harrison suffered a slight hamstring strain and was held out of his other races as a precaution.
In the 800 relay final, junior Jayden Rodgers took over as the anchor and joined Joel Sarpong, T.J. Coates and Kevin Acheampong to finish seventh (1:29.27).
"After Zach strained a hamstring, we kept him out of the 400 (relay) and 1,600 (relay) and all of the finals because of it," Walters said. "It's nothing major and he won't miss any summer football conditioning. We just decided to not push it. It would have been interesting to see how we would have stacked up with Zach in our three relays."
Tommy Heiden replaced Harrison on the sixth-place 1,600 relay (3:21.18), which also included Christian Wright, Tyler King and Coates.
The 400 relay of Brandon Ransom, Coates, Sarpong and Rodgers was 11th (42.69).
Rodgers came close to winning a title, finishing second in the 110 hurdles (14.09) behind New Albany's Max Frye (13.94). Rodgers set the program record of 14.01 in his preliminary heat.
"Jayden Rodgers is a state runner-up as a junior, which is pretty exciting because he was so close to winning it all," Walters said. "Hopefully he will get his shot at it again next year."
The 3,200 relay of Heiden, King, Andrew Schroff and Moore was seventh in a program-record 7:49.39, and Nate Roush was 12th in the pole vault (13 feet, 6 inches).
Watson narrowly misses
pole vault repeat
A year after winning the Division I state title in the girls pole vault, senior Anna Watson finished second.
The Indiana signee lost following four jump-offs with Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit's Allie Stern, after they had tied at 13-1.
Both competitors missed their four attempts at 13-4 to force the jump-off.
Initially, the bar was dropped to 13-1, and both cleared the height. Both then missed at 13-4, forcing a return to 13-1. After both missed their attempt at that height, the bar was lowered to 12-10. Watson missed her try and Stern went over for the win.
Watson set the state record of 13-6 1/4 on May 16 in the district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby.
"Anna took a spill on one of her jumps and landed on her back, bumping her head," Walters said. "She was second, but that does nothing to diminish what might be the best career for a girls high school vaulter in the state."
Sophomore Allison Guagenti was third in the 1,600 in a program-record 4:48.23.
"That was a huge (personal record) by almost 9 seconds," said Guagenti, who was sixth last season in the 1,600. "I kind of held off the first couple of laps because I knew I could close fast (at the end). It played into my strength."
Sophomore Grace Frye finished 11th in the discus (120-4).
Orange tied Strongsville for 13th (14) behind champion Cincinnati Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.
Baseball team falls
short in state semi
A banner season came to a heartbreaking end for the baseball team in a Division I state semifinal.
The Pioneers surrendered one run in the first inning and two in the second in a 3-2 loss to Strongsville on June 2 at Huntington Park.
Orange, which finished 23-9 overall, won its first regional championship and its first district title since 2012.
"We gave them every run, but we did a good job of coming back," said coach Phil Callaghan, who completed his seventh season. "This ride has been so much fun for everyone."
Strongsville pitcher Matt Brosky held Orange hitless through four innings. Junior Cole Callaghan had an RBI single to score senior Garrett O'Reilly in the top of the fifth, and senior Jason Schutte followed with an RBI single to drive in sophomore Tyler Ross.
"This is the kind of game you never forget," Schutte said. "It's the kind of game you replay in your mind over and over."
Senior pitcher Tyler Brown, a Vanderbilt signee, gave up two earned runs on six hits with one walk and one hit batter. He had eight strikeouts.
The Pioneers finished second (10-5) in the OCC-Buckeye Division behind Olentangy (12-3) and ahead of Westerville Central (8-7), Liberty (7-8), Westerville North (7-8) and Westerville South (1-14).
Numerous players put up impressive numbers.
Brown, who was first-team all-state, all-district and all-league, went 4-3 with a 1.08 ERA, 68 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52 innings. He also batted .371 with five home runs, 26 RBI, 19 runs and nine doubles.
Schutte (1B/P) was first-team all-district and all-league. He batted .400 with 11 RBI, 30 runs and 10 stolen bases and was 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA, 53 strikeouts and nine walks in 51 2/3 innings.
Senior Matt Poole (SS/P) batted .354 with 13 RBI and 25 runs and was 6-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 29 strikeouts and 14 walks in 40 innings. He was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league.
Senior catcher Zach Stiteler was first-team all-district and second-team all-league after hitting .421 with one homer, 34 RBI and 15 runs. O'Reilly (3B/P) was second-team all-league after batting .325 with 23 RBI and 17 runs and going 7-1 with a 0.70 ERA, 17 strikeouts and five walks in 40 innings.
Adam Brady (INF), Logan Moss (2B; honorable mention all-league) and Zach Pfeiffer (OF) rounded out the eight-player senior class.
"You think about the number of wins these seniors have had in their three and four years on varsity, and it's pretty amazing," coach Callaghan said. "We should have a good group of guys coming back next year and it will be fun to get back at it."
Key players expected back are junior outfielders Cole Callaghan and Ben Miller and sophomores Robbie Dayhuff (OF) and Ross (INF).