Westerville South High School track and field coach Jimmy Gaul proudly took photos of Division I state placers Brielle Collier and Dominique Long as they stood on the podium June 3 at Ohio State.
Both seniors helped the Wildcats close the season on a positive note.
"You're happy for two great kids that put four years of an incredible amount of work and dedication in their craft, into the program, their team," Gaul said. "It feels really good and it's a great example for everyone else to see that hard work validated by reaching goals, standing on podiums, breaking school records."
Collier finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles (43.45 seconds) and fifth in the 100 hurdles (14.41).
She again set a program record in the 100 hurdles, eclipsing the time of 14.5 she ran in the preliminaries June 2 and the 14.57 she ran at regional May 26 at Pickerington North. The previous top time of 14.6 was set by Yolanda Evans in 1988 and Bernice Kline in 1989.
Collier fell short of the program record of 43.25 in the 300 hurdles. The record was established by 2016 graduate Chasatea Brown last season at state.
Collier accounted for the girls team's nine points, as it tied Cincinnati Turpin for 28th behind champion Cincinnati Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.
"I reached my goals. I'm happy just to be on the podium," said Collier, who will compete at Kent State. "I got the 100 hurdles record, so I'm happy with that. I'm proud of myself."
At regional, Collier finished second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles (personal-record 43.41) as South tied Hartley for 17th (14) behind champion Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored.
Seniors Deja Mason and Alexys McClure, junior Kayla Silva and sophomore Peyton Guice accounted for South's other point at regional, finishing eighth in the 400 relay (49.22).
In the district 3 meet that concluded May 20 at Hilliard Darby, the Wildcats finished sixth (44) of 12 teams behind champion Pickerington Central (161). Collier won the 300 hurdles (44.58) and was second in the 100 hurdles (15.17).
South finished fourth (59) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet held May 10 and 13 behind champion and host Olentangy Orange (155.66), Westerville Central (132.33) and Olentangy Liberty (96) and ahead of Westerville North (40) and Olentangy (40). Winning titles were Collier in the 100 hurdles (15.29) and 300 hurdles (47.42) and Mason, McClure, Silva and senior Marteana Newton in the 800 relay (1:45.43).
Long leads boys
team at state
Long led the boys track team at state, finishing third in the 400 (48.39).
"It didn't go exactly as I expected, but it's always a blessing to end up high on the podium," said Long, who will play football at Michigan State.
The 400 relay of junior anchor Jaelen Gill, junior Elton Sunnyway, sophomore Bankole Abimbola and freshman Ibukunoluwa Alfred entered the 400 relay final with the second-fastest time (41.91) following the two preliminary heats June 2, but finished ninth in the final (43.19) the next day.
South competed in the final without Gill, as the Ohio State football commit was attending an Under Armour All-America Camp in Baltimore. Freshman Michael Mansaray replaced Gill.
Long accounted for his team's six points, as the Wildcats finished in a 10-way tie for 33rd behind champion Thomas Worthington (36) as 80 teams scored.
At regional, South tied Dublin Coffman for 10th (22) behind champion Thomas (73) as 37 teams scored. Abimbola, Alfred, Gill and Sunnyway finished second in the 400 relay (program-record 41.72), and Long was second in the 400 (47.92).
South finished second (115) in the district 3 meet behind Pickerington Central (154.5). Long won the 100 (11.22) and 400 (47.69) and was third in the 200 (22.19), while Abimbola, Alfred, Gill and Sunnyway won the 400 relay (42.34).
The Wildcats finished second (117) in the league meet behind Orange (187) and ahead of Olentangy (84), Liberty (69), Central (42) and North (20). Winning titles were Long in the 100 (10.98), junior Malik Powell in the 300 hurdles (40.29), junior Anthony Parham in the discus (132 feet, 6 inches) and Abimbola, Alfred, Mansaray and Sunnyway in the 400 relay (43.43).
"I'm very happy with the season," Gaul said of the boys and girls teams. "We had great kids (and) obviously some great senior leadership on both sides. We had a lot of young, talented kids who want to get better (and) want to be like the upperclassmen."
Volleyball team falls
in state quarterfinal
The boys volleyball team saw its season end with a three-game loss to eventual champion Cleveland St. Ignatius in a state quarterfinal June 3 at Capital University.
The Wildcats fell 25-18, 25-19, 25-16 to finish 20-8 overall.
"It's a great feeling to be here," coach Vicki Phillips said. "The senior class has worked so hard to come to this point in their whole high school careers."
Senior setter Roman Szwabinsky had 17 assists and five kills. Seniors Luke Carpenter (middle hitter), Oliver Miller (middle hitter) and Deion Woodson (outside hitter) each had six kills, and senior libero Colin Blaser added nine digs.
"I'm really happy with this season," Woodson said. "I really didn't expect to get to this point. It's very shocking to me to get to the state tournament. ... (Phillips) is definitely our mom on the team. She cares about us more than we care about ourselves."
St. Ignatius went on to defeat Darby 25-18, 26-24, 25-19 in the state final June 4.
South earned the state berth by defeating third-seeded Olentangy 25-21, 25-22, 25-21 in an East Region final May 26 at Westerville Central. The second-seeded Wildcats defeated 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg 25-6, 25-8, 25-11 on May 19 and fourth-seeded Hilliard Davidson 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 on May 23 in a semifinal, both at home.
Szwabinsky was named OCC-Buckeye Player of the Year and first-team all-region. Woodson was first-team all-region and all-league, Carpenter was second-team all-region and all-league, Miller was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, Blaser was special mention all-league and senior right-side hitter Mason Cobler was honorable mention all-league.
"It's going to be tough to replace that whole senior class," said Phillips, who was named region and league Coach of the Year.
South went 8-0 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish first ahead of Olentangy (6-2), Liberty (3-5), North (3-5) and Central (0-8).
Juniors Josh Coffey (outside hitter) and Max Perry (middle hitter) are eligible to return.
coach steps down
A central Ohio softball coaching legend has stepped down.
Jerry Kelbley announced his retirement May 31 after 36 seasons leading the Wildcats.
South finished 4-20 overall and went 1-9 in the OCC-Buckeye Division this season.
"It was a tough decision; it's still tough," Kelbley said. "I'm going to miss the girls. That's what I'm going to miss more than anything, watching them develop with their softball skills and watching them grow up and become young ladies and responsible young ladies. I'll miss game days."
Kelbley finished with a career record of 636-281 and guided South to 12 OCC titles, 11 district championships, five regional titles and a Division I state runner-up finish in 1994. The Wildcats also reached the state tournament in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1991.
Kelbley, who was named an OCC Coach of the Year 13 times, was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Ohio Capital Conference Hall of Fame in 2014.