After failing to qualify an athlete for the Division I state meet last season, the Grove City High School boys and girls track and field teams have their sights set on getting to Ohio State.
The Greyhounds opened by competing against Canal Winchester and Whitehall on April 3 at home.
"Our numbers are still there. We're still above 80 (athletes in the program)," 13th-year coach Jane Taylor said. "We're still in the toughest division, (the OCC-Ohio). We have a few (athletes) this year who have the capability of making it (to state). It's hard to make it to state in Division I. The kids focus on that, but their main thing is improving day to day."
Grove City qualified for regional in one event last season, as the boys 800-meter relay finished 12th in 1 minute, 31.51 seconds. Senior R.J. Lewis and junior Adam Meister return from the relay, while Jacob Gaitten and Chris Witcher graduated.
"We have a lot of young talent," Lewis said. "We feel like we can do better this year. We have really solid relays. (The 1,600) is looking really nice. I believe we're state-worthy for the (1,600)."
Junior Jacob Kifer is another key returnee, as he joined Lewis on the sixth-place 400 relay (44.59) at district.
Senior Evan Whitaker also returns after he was eighth in the 3,200 (10:13.68) at district.
"We're going to be pretty strong on the distance side," Taylor said. "We're stronger more mid-distance, so I'm thinking some of my 200 (and) 400 runners are going to have to go up and down."
Senior Hunter Ciborek (throws) is another key returnee.
"This time of the year is always exciting," Ciborek said. "I want to get to regional and get as many (personal records) as possible. It's lots of technique, and I've been working out on my own trying to build muscle."
Taylor expects junior Luke Capehart to be a key hurdler, high jumper and long jumper.
Other returnees include seniors Jacob Coyne (distance), Daniel Sparks (distance, pole vault) and Corey Wellman (distance), juniors Jared Ellis (distance), Johnny Gilbert (distance), Mark Hitchens (sprints), Evan Kaising (throws), James Marvin (sprints), Kingston McKinstry (sprints) and Mason Roush (distance) and sophomores Grant Behnke (sprints), Trey Harkins (sprints), Spencer Marcum (distance), James Rutherford (sprints), Ben Rutledge (sprints), Donovon Waugh (sprints), Derek White (distance) and Nate White (sprints).
Senior E.J. Rondez (distance, 400) also should contribute. He is a transfer from Westland.
"E.J. works so hard and has an amazing attitude," Taylor said. "He's going to help us."
Grove City is looking to repeat as champion in the Best of the South-West meet April 13 at Central Crossing. Last season, the Greyhounds (85) finished ahead of Westland (63), Central Crossing (59) and Franklin Heights (44).
"It would be awesome if we could win that again," Taylor said. "A lot of them have been talking about that. They want to repeat that, especially my seniors."
Grove City also is hoping for a better showing in the OCC-Ohio Division meet after finishing sixth (16) behind champion Gahanna (143) last season.
Girls track team returns solid group
The girls track team lost only one athlete to graduation in distance runner Sydney Smith, who is competing at Otterbein.
Smith holds the program record in the 3,200 (11:35.54), which she established during her junior year at district.
A key returnee is senior Morgan Summers (sprints, high jump). She was seventh in the high jump (5 feet) last season at district.
Other key returnees are seniors Camille Lanese (sprints), Abby Ray (distance) and Hannah Seckman (sprints), juniors Morgan Brown (sprints), Callie Headlee (sprints), Rachael Huff (sprints), Morgan Lemponen (sprints), Sumer McWilliams (distance), Alana Moll (sprints), Ellie Norbut (sprints, jumps), Skylar Todd (sprints) and Maddie Zezuto (distance) and sophomores Marina Carey (sprints), Natalie Figueroa (sprints), Lauren Glass (distance), Alexis Hyder (throws), Makayla Miller (sprints), Olivia Reid (throws), Lexie Tatum (sprints), Nevaeh Whittier (sprints) and Grace Yates (sprints).
Senior Maylene Renninger (distance) and sophomore Lindsay Donaldson (distance) are in their first season in track after previously competing in cross country. Donaldson couldn't compete last season because of a broken foot, according to Taylor.
"On the distance side for the girls, they're going to be pretty tough," Taylor said.
Junior Gwen Sebring (shot put) and freshmen Rebecca Conrad (throws) and Olivia Norbitt (sprints) also should contribute.
The Greyhounds are looking to repeat as Best of the South-West champions after scoring 94 points last season to finish ahead of Central Crossing (77), Franklin Heights (56) and Westland (26).
Grove City finished sixth (16) behind champion Gahanna (165) in the OCC-Ohio meet.
TRACK & FIELD
April 3 -- vs. Canal Winchester and Whitehall
April 7 -- Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut
April 10 -- vs. Grandview, Teays Valley and Westland
April 13 -- Best of the South-West at Central Crossing
April 17 -- at Franklin Heights
April 21 -- Kallner Invitational at Hamilton Township
April 24 -- vs. Ready and Grove City Christian
April 28 -- Anthony Wilson Invitational at Franklin Heights
May 4 -- Westerville Central Warhawk Invitational at Otterbein
May 9, 11 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Lancaster
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City baseball, softball and boys tennis teams:
April 5 -- At Upper Arlington
*April 6 -- At Reynoldsburg
April 7 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary
*April 9 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 11 -- At Gahanna
April 6 -- At Bradley
*April 11 -- Home vs. Lancaster
*April 5 -- Home vs. Lancaster
*April 10 -- At Reynoldsburg
April 11 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights