The Thomas Worthington High School boys track and field team won its third Division I state championship June 3 at Ohio State.
Although the Cardinals won just one event -- the 3,200-meter relay on the first day of the meet June 2 -- they totaled 36 points to edge runner-up Gahanna (31) as Central District teams finished in the top five spots.
Canal Winchester (29), Olentangy Orange (25) and Reynoldsburg (24) rounded out the top five, as 80 teams scored.
"It was an amazing collective performance by our group," coach Bill Darling said. "Everybody stepped up. Everybody we brought made the podium and is going home with an all-state medal. We were in eight events and scored in seven. I couldn't be more proud."
The Cardinals shared the state title with Canton McKinley and Toledo Central Catholic in 1997 and won it outright in 1999. Both of those Thomas teams were coached by Andy Cox, the current girls coach.
"The kids thought about this all year," Darling said. "I didn't want them to focus on it. We (coaches) just wanted them to get better daily. Honestly, I don't know if the coaches thought this was possible. We knew we had a chance to win the conference and district, but we thought it would end there. Then they went out and won the regional and now this, our third state championship."
Seniors Ty Banks, Joshua Allen and Andrew Morgan and junior Arjun Jha completed the 3,200 relay in 7 minutes, 39.86 seconds.
"It was a great way to start the meet," Darling said. "Those guys went out there and showed their teammates they meant business and that there was no reason to be nervous. They just went out and performed the way they did all season."
Jha placed second in the 1,600 (4:09.09) behind Liberty Township Lakota East's Dustin Horter (4:08.38) and was visibly upset afterward. Horter and Jha entered state with the top two qualifying times.
"Arjun is a little tough on himself," Darling said. "He ran a great race, but Dustin Horter was just too tough today. But his eight points were a crucial part of the team victory."
Senior Cade Richeson was third in the discus (172 feet, 7 inches) and 14th in the shot put (51-8).
"I got third and I'm super happy about it," Richeson said. "I went in focusing on discus because it's my best event, but not doing well in the shot was a blessing in disguise because it made me more focused on doing better in the discus.
"I got a good mark on my first throw with a 168 and then I was just chasing the school record, which is 176-10. I went after it and couldn't get it, but I improved my mark with a 172-7, which is a new PR. So I can't be mad about it. In fact, I'm very happy with it."
Senior Kainan Ramsey finished fifth in the 100 (10.81) and seventh in the 200 (21.91).
"There are a lot of fast guys here," Ramsey said. "Ohio has great 100 and 200 runners, so to make it to the podium in both events is special. I'm happy to be among the best here and I'm proud of myself. To make it this far was a very good day, and I was able to help the team finish, which is very important."
Junior Khalil Jones was fifth in the long jump (23-3) and classmate Andrew Payne placed seventh in the 3,200 (9:20.02).
"My coaches told me not to think about the team score going into it," Payne said. "They just wanted me to run for as high (a place) as I can get. In the last lap, I knew I could catch one guy and I got him. When I did that, I was thinking that could be a key point for us."
Even though it wasn't a decisive point, it was that mentality that pleased Darling.
"It's pretty amazing to win one event and still win the championship," he said. "But that was their mentality: every point matters. I'm so proud of all of them. I know Pickerington Central had some unbelievable injuries today and they're a great team. Gahanna's (800 relay) got disqualified. I feel bad for those teams, but those things happen at the state meet sometimes. It doesn't take away from the fact that our kids had a fantastic meet. We took advantage of their misfortunes."
girls 800 title
Sophomore Gia Napoleon of the girls track and field team clocked the fourth-fastest time in the 800 in Division I state-meet history, winning the title in 2:07.47 on June 3 at Ohio State.
The state-meet and course record is 2:07.27, set by Chardon's Rachel Banks in 2015. The state record is 2:07.04, set by Geneva's Brittani Aveni last season.
"I was just off the record," Napoleon said. "I'm just really excited with my time and winning it. It would've been awesome to have gotten the record, but winning is an awesome feeling.
"They were pushing it through the first 300. There were a lot of girls right there and that pushed me to push the pace in the last half (of the race). I got nervous. I knew coming in that I had the top (qualifying) time and (the field) was coming after me. But that also gave me the confidence to go ahead and push the pace."
On June 2, Napoleon ran the anchor leg on the 3,200 relay, behind senior Christina Nash, freshman Cassidy Shaver and senior Hannah Moulton. The relay placed eighth in 9:14.63.
"I was really happy with the (3,200 relay) because the top eight make all-state and that felt great for Christina and Hannah because they're seniors," Napoleon said.
The Cardinals totaled 11 points to tie three teams for 19th behind champion Cincinnati Withrow (58) as 62 teams scored.