With state-meet veteran Travis Marx among those no longer in the program, the Reynoldsburg High School boys track and field team began its season needing new high-end scorers to emerge.
The good news for the Raiders is that there should be plenty of options.
There are nearly 100 athletes on the boys and girls teams combined, including a freshman class that should have impact performers.
"We've got a lot of people coming back from last year, and we've got some new freshmen," junior Lance Gauthney said. "I guess there's a lot of people that like track. I think we'll have more people we can count on this season."
On March 3 in the Division I indoor state meet in Geneva, Gauthney was seventh in the 400 meters (50.14 seconds) and 11th in the 200 (22.55). His brother, 2012 Reynoldsburg graduate LaVonne Gauthney, was a state qualifier in the shot put as a senior and his sister, Layanna Gauthney, is a 2017 graduate who competed in track.
Last spring, Gauthney was on the 1,600 relay that placed 16th (3:37.98) in the Division I regional.
Also returning with state-meet experience is junior Dionte Roddy, who joined Marx, 2017 graduate J.J. Cooper and senior Marion Organ on the 400 relay that was third (41.95) at state last June. Organ is not competing this spring because of a knee injury.
Also at state last season, Marx won the championship in the 200 (21.18).
Reynoldsburg opened March 31 by placing third (70) in the 16-team Newark Invitational behind Big Walnut (99) and Olentangy Orange (74). Gauthney won the 100 (11.42) and 200 (22.67).
"Our numbers are huge, which is a good thing, but when the weather is bad it's kind of an organizational nightmare," sixth-year coach Richard Ladowitz said. "We're hovering around 90 to 100 kids, and that's real good for us. It's way more heavy on the boys side, and interestingly we are very large in underclassmen. We're encouraged that through our numbers we've been able to get some depth. We've had a pretty good run the last few years, but it's always been the work of three or four real good athletes."
Junior James Hickman was third in the long jump (20 feet, 7 3/4 inches) and tied for fourth in the high jump (5-10) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet last season as the Raiders finished third (97) behind champion Gahanna (147).
Senior Elijah Dismuke returns after being a part of the 800 relay that was seventh (1:29.17) at regional, and sophomore Muhammed Fall placed 10th in the 300 hurdles (40.58) at regional.
Junior Camby Goff, sophomores Doniven Jackson and Adrian Logan and freshmen Josh Ly and Andre Turner should be other contributors in sprinting events.
Turner also could have an impact in the long jump.
Senior Joe Boggs is expected to be among the team's performers in the shot put and discus.
Seniors Jared Dye and Nat Shewaye and junior Andy Young likely will lead the middle distance and distance runners.
Freshmen Seth Davis and Kyle Cannon are other runners who should contribute, according to Ladowitz.
"We have a lot of young guys, which is good to see," Hickman said. "We're really happy to be able to see what they can do."
Girls track team hopes to fill voids
The girls track team has one returning state competitor in sophomore Jessica Ricks, who ran on the sixth-place 400 relay (47.72) with 2017 graduates Mika Cox and Tylar Mixon and senior Dalajah Long.
Long has transferred to Pickerington Central.
Ricks also will be competing in hurdles. She and juniors Nia Amerson (shot put, discus), Bre Johnson (high jump, long jump, sprints) and Tayla Lee (middle distance) give Ladowitz what he hopes is a strong base to work with this spring.
Reynoldsburg opened March 31 by placing 11th (18) in the 13-team Newark Invitational behind champion Orange (103).
Destinee Gause, who graduated from the University of Florida last year after having a standout career for the Raiders, is an assistant coach.
"We just want to be competitive," Ladowitz said. "We're young and our numbers are not as good as they are for the boys, so we look at this year as a rebuilding kind of thing. Our numbers are better with our freshmen and sophomores, so if we can get that competitiveness in them and get them to enjoy the sport of track and field, I think we'll be OK for the next couple years."
In last year's OCC-Ohio meet, Lee and junior Jasmine Blueter competed in the 800 and junior Natalie Castello competed in the 1,600. Freshman Kristin Sheets also should contribute in distance events.
Junior Tyra Barber and freshman Osheana Ford are among the team's top competitors in sprints and hurdles, and freshman Adja Mbow is another sprinter looking to contribute.
Amerson figures to be among the team's top scorers after placing fifth in the discus (112-2) in last year's district 1 meet to miss advancing to regional by one spot. Juniors Leah Goodwin and Amiya Wright should be other key contributors in the throwing events.
Cox is now competing for Iowa after finishing fifth at state in the 400 (55.5) and joining Mixon, 2017 graduate Hannah Gaskins and junior Nia Grant on the 1,600 relay that placed ninth (4:02.71). Grant has transferred to Pickerington North.
"We have a lot of girls coming back (in the shot put and discus)," Amerson said. "Everybody is helping each other and we've got some freshmen who are trying to learn how to throw, so we're working with each other. For discus, I'd like to be throwing in the 130s, and I want to be in the 30s in the shot put this year."
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Newark Invitational
April 3 -- at Westland
April 7 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 12 -- at Westerville Central
April 13 -- Eagle Invitational at New Albany
April 17 -- at Canal Winchester with Pickerington Central
April 20 -- Lancaster Fulton Relays
April 23 -- vs. Dublin Jerome, Licking Heights and Westland
April 27 -- Marion Harding Night Invitational
April 30 -- at Olentangy Orange with Dublin Scioto
May 4 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Upper Arlington
May 12 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Dublin Coffman
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg baseball, softball and boys tennis teams:
*April 6 -- Home vs. Grove City
April 7 -- Home vs. Granville (DH)
*April 9 -- At Grove City
*April 11 -- At Pickerington Central
April 5 -- At Thomas Worthington
April 7 -- At Newark with Heath
*April 11 -- At Gahanna
*April 5 -- At Gahanna
April 7 -- Watkins Memorial Doubles Tournament
April 9 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
*April 10 -- Home vs. Grove City
April 11 -- At Granville