Jaydan Wood of the Pickerington High School Central girls track and field team had just finished second in the 400 meters at the Division I state meet June 3 at Ohio State, and the Tigers were about to clinch a fourth-place finish as a team, but Wood hesitated to say she and her teammates had a great weekend.
"Yes and no," said Wood, a sophomore who ran 54.16 in the 400, second to Granville's Natalie Price (52.96). "I was aiming for a state title, but I know Natalie Price is a tough competitor. It was good to place second as a sophomore, but I definitely will be coming back to win it next year.
"As a team, I feel like we had a tough day."
Wood also placed seventh in the 200 (24.5) on a day that featured four top-four finishes for Central, but junior McKenzie Long false started in the 100 final. The Tigers scored 31 points to finish behind Cincinnati Withrow (58), Gahanna (51) and Dublin Coffman (39) as 62 teams scored.
Long was second in the 200 (24.15) behind Coffman's Abby Steiner, who won in a meet, stadium and state record 23.56. The 400 relay of Long and juniors Trinity Brown, Shae Douglas and Destinee McGrady placed fourth (47.63), and the 1,600 relay of senior Olivia Chapman, Douglas, Wood and freshman Brittany Miller was fourth (3:54.6).
Long was one of two runners to false start in the 100, which Steiner won in 11.61.
"When you are on the track, you just have to focus on yourself, but (Steiner) is a very good athlete," Long said. "My goal is just to get as high on the podium as I can. I thought I could pull this off, and I am proud of myself for getting here."
Also competing at state for the girls were senior Amirah Strauther in the 100 hurdles (sixth, 14.43) and junior Grace Luther in the shot put (10th, 37 feet, 8 inches).
Injuries hampered the boys team's pursuit of the state title. Central finished 11th (17) behind champion Thomas Worthington (36) as 80 teams scored.
Junior Matt Scrape's runner-up finish in the 3,200 (9:00.87) led the Tigers, who had the best 1,600 relay time entering the final but placed fifth in 3:19.33 with seniors Cameron Kanney and Zavien Parker, junior Crockett Schooler and sophomore Evan Matthews.
Matthews and Schooler replaced junior Zach Robinson and sophomore Terry Simuel, who were injured.
Simuel also had to withdraw from the 400.
Also competing at state for the boys were the 800 relay of Parker, junior Tavyn Myers, Robinson and Simuel (sixth, 1:29.14), Schooler in the 110 hurdles (eighth, 14.31) and 300 hurdles (10th, 39.03), Robinson in the 400 (eighth, 1:23.93), the 3,200 relay of senior Jack Jaynes, sophomore Brady Johnson, Kanney and Scrape (14th, 8:02.77) and junior John Brown in the discus (16th, 138-3).
Central's only postseason team championships came at the district level.
The Tigers swept the team titles in the district 3 meet that concluded May 20 at Hilliard Darby. The boys scored 154.5 points in the 14-team meet to finish well ahead of runner-up Westerville South (115), and the girls had 161 points in the 16-team meet to outdistance runner-up Darby (130).
Both Central teams were runners-up in the regional meet May 24 and 26 at North. The boys had 67 points to finish behind Thomas (73) as 37 teams scored, and the girls scored 71 points to finish behind Gahanna (97) as 35 teams scored.
The boys finished second in the OCC-Ohio Division meet that concluded May 13 at Olentangy Orange, scoring 143 points to finish behind Gahanna (147) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (97), Lancaster (77), Pickerington North (43) and Grove City (16). The girls also were second (150) in the league meet, behind Gahanna (165) and ahead of Lancaster (85), North (65), Reynoldsburg (42) and Grove City (16).
Other key contributors expected to return include junior Alex Morgan (throws) for the boys, and junior Amber Hamelin (distance) and sophomores Lauren Marvin (distance) and Maddie Schmidt (distance) for the girls.