Coach Jen Bunker likes the versatility shown by her Columbus School for Girls track and field athletes during the preseason.
However, the weather and spring break kept the Unicorns from opening the season until April 10, so the third-year coach was still waiting to see how well her athletes can perform in a meet setting.
"It's been frustrating, but I think we'll be OK," said Bunker, whose team opened April 10 with a home meet against Circleville, Columbus Academy, Madison Christian and Ready. "We have been able to get some good conditioning in. The first couple meets might be a little tough, but I think we'll see some big drops in time early."
Leading the returnees is senior Imani Babatunde, who finished 11th in the 200 meters (25.62 seconds) in the Division II state meet last year at Ohio State.
"We lost some keys seniors from last year, but we have some good-looking freshmen and I'm excited about my senior year," Babatunde said. "I have to be a leader for them and lead by example. Even though they may be young, they have to do what they can. They need to go all out and beat the older kids if they can. We all want to run as fast as we can to help the team."
Two regional qualifiers from a year ago did not return for their senior seasons. Sidney Flynn finished 13th in the long jump (15 feet, 3 1/2 inches) but opted to play lacrosse, while Brinley Zieg did not return after teaming with Babatunde, junior Alyssa Estepp and 2017 graduate Ayla Kazemi on the fifth-place 800 relay (1:46.33).
Sophomore returnee Payton Jackson can run anything from hurdles to sprints to middle distance and also is one of the team's best jumpers. Freshmen Eva Nicolosi and Emma Young also show similar traits of versatility.
"Payton had a great freshman year and is ready to take things on this season, both physically and mentally," Bunker said. "Eva and Emma also will be able to do multiple events for us. We can put them in just about any event."
Babatunde, Estepp and junior Emily Dewolf will lead the sprint corps and juniors Sarah O'Dell and Eleanor Richardson are the team's top distance runners. Junior Margeaux Rocco will compete in the high jump and long jump, while junior Elizabeth Johnson and freshmen Julia Gumina and Jolien Kusi are the team's top throwers.
"I think the key is to just get the season going," Bunker said. "... We still should be good in relays, but we have to figure some things out. We have a good three (runners) in all of our relays, but we have to find that fourth to fill them out. We want to capitalize on our versatility and find the right chemistry. Our strength at CSG has always been our relays, and I see that being the case again this year."
Lacrosse team returns top scorers
The top four scorers from last season return for the lacrosse team, giving fourth-year coach Kellen Morrissey optimism for the season.
Among the returnees are senior midfielder Lily Berger (50 goals, 17 assists), sophomore midfielder Ellen Monahan (46 goals, 12 assists), junior midfielder Katie Wagenbrenner (44 goals, 3 assists) and senior attacker Ella Fronk (19 goals, 10 assists).
Last season, the Unicorns finished 11-8 overall, went 0-3 in the CCL to place fourth behind champion DeSales (3-0) and went 3-4 in the Central Independent League to tie Hartley for fifth behind champion DeSales (7-0).
"Our midfield works especially hard all over the field and they lead the team in almost every statistical category, including goals, assists, ground-balls, draws and caused turnovers," Morrissey said. "Our midfield and draw unit is the same as last year with Lily Berger, Katie Wagenbrenner and Ellen Monahan. These three have also been our leading scorers so far this season, and they're also instrumental in the defense."
CSG opened March 30 with a 15-12 loss to Cape May (N.J.) Lower Cape May in Orlando, Florida. The Unicorns then lost to Granville 10-7 on April 5 in their CIL opener before falling to Olentangy Orange 8-6 on April 7.
CSG was 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the CIL before playing DeSales on April 10 in its CCL opener.
Monahan had three goals and Berger and Wagenbrenner both scored two against Granville.
Senior Maria Kaufman, who had nine goals last season, and junior Mary Hernon, who had six goals and four assists a year ago, are other returnees on attack, while senior Bethany Yamamoto and Annie Feibel anchor the defense.
Freshman Via Barry-Wilson is the goalkeeper after junior Christian Shorter did not return to the team.
Also on the roster are seniors Sidney Flynn (defender) and Tara Kazemi (defender), junior MacKenzie Peterson (attacker), sophomores Ayla Gotoh Mack (defender), Zoe Paragas (attacker), Greta Schoettmer (attacker), Haley Tobias (attacker) and Alice Wruck (defender) and freshmen Maura Donnelly (midfielder), Olivia Eyears (attacker), Leah Giller (defender), Mimi Purdum (defender) and Trinity Yamamoto (defender).
"We are a small team," Morrissey said. "We have a mix of returning and new players, so we are still working on getting our momentum as we begin our league games."
Goolsby named basketball coach
Heath Goolsby has been named basketball coach, replacing Isaac Klopfenstein.
Goolsby was an assistant coach the past two seasons under Klopfenstein after serving as an assistant at Hartley and Whitehall. He also has been an assistant with the CSG tennis program for the last four seasons. Klopfenstein was 16-27 in two seasons at CSG. Last season, the Unicorns finished 4-17 overall and 0-4 in the CCL.
March 30 -- Cape May (N.J.) Lower Cape May in Orlando, Fla.
*April 5 -- at Granville
April 7 -- at Olentangy Orange
*April 10 -- vs. DeSales
*April 12 -- vs. Wellington
*April 17 -- at Bexley
April 18 -- at Hilliard Darby
April 21 -- McMurray (Pa.) Peters Township and Wooster in Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington
April 23 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*April 26 -- vs. Watterson
April 27 -- at Pickerington Central
May 1 -- at Centennial
*May 3 -- at Columbus Academy
May 4 -- at Gahanna
May 8 -- vs. Westerville North
*May 10 -- vs. Hartley
TRACK & FIELD
April 10 -- vs. Circleville, Columbus Academy, Madison Christian and Ready
April 13 -- Russ Owen-Bexley Relays
April 21 -- Elmo Kallner Invitational at Hamilton Township
April 24 -- vs. Amanda-Clearcreek, Cristo Rey, Madison Christian and Whitehall
April 27 -- Marion Harding Night Relays
May 2 -- vs. Africentric and Bexley
May 8, 10 -- CCL meet at Hartley