Things came together impressively for the Dublin Coffman High School boys track and field team last spring.
With an emerging group of sprinters combining with an already strong middle distance and distance corps, the Shamrocks won their first league championship since 2000.
Keeping that momentum going this spring is the goal for Coffman, which has about 100 athletes in the program but will have a younger look in some areas.
The Shamrocks opened March 31 by placing ninth (60 points) in the 11-team Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson, behind champion Gahanna (102.5).
"We're coming together well for how young our team is," senior Jeslord Boateng said. "Our goal this year is to win OCCs and hopefully go to states."
Last year in the Division I regional meet, Boateng ran on the sixth-place 400-meter relay along with 2017 graduates Alex Barber, Chris Mollica and Ibn Williamson (42.81 seconds) and on the eighth-place 800 relay along with Barber, Williamson and Jameel Williamson (1:30.83).
Jameel Williamson, who is now a sophomore, joins Boateng as a key member of the sprint corps.
Seniors Evan Borland and Cam Scott, juniors Dustin Drye, Josh Page and Kevin Sabath and sophomore Takeru Yamaoka are others who could contribute in sprints.
At the Wildcat Premier, the 800 relay of Borland, Drye, Sabath and Yamaoka placed fourth (1:34.7).
Page also competes in the long jump.
The Shamrocks return five athletes who competed at state last season.
Senior Lucas Bons placed third in the 1,600 (4:09.89) and also ran on the 15th-place 3,200 relay along with seniors Ryan Bosworth and Arnaldo Gonzalez Calero and sophomore Alex Dediu (8:10.72), while junior Derek Van Vlerah was 11th in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches).
At the indoor state meet March 3 in Geneva, Bons was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:12.46) and placed fourth in the 800 (1:55.93).
Junior Trent Williams could compete in high jump, pole vault and hurdles events, while sophomore Michael Ching is the team's top returning hurdler and also could run on sprint relays.
Senior Nathan Sears could contribute in the middle distance and distance events but has been battling an injury.
Junior Morgan Adams is another who competes in middle distance, while senior Kaleb Holcomb is the team's top competitor in the shot put and sophomore Colin Gagne is another in the pole vault.
"We lost several guys, especially on the sprint side, so it's a little bit of a rebuilding year, but this year I have about 100 boys, which is a tremendous help," third-year coach Kathryn Slaven said. "We're hoping some kids surprise us. We've got a younger team and we're trying people in a lot of things they haven't done before, but we're optimistic that's going to work out for us."
Girls track team seeks health, success
The girls track and field team is hoping a series of injuries that occurred during the preseason won't slow it down.
"We've had a bunch of freaky injuries with three broken bones for kids who should be OCC placers," 10th-year coach Greg King said. "But the indoor season was real strong. We should be pretty solid. The injuries are kind of concerning, but we should be good enough to be a good team by the postseason, especially if we can get a couple people healthy."
The top returnee is senior Abby Steiner, a Kentucky recruit for track and soccer who is three-time defending state champion in the 200 and two-time defending champ in the 100. Last year at state, she ran the 200 in 23.56 and the 100 in 11.61.
Steiner also anchored the winning 800 relay that also included Isabelle Angerman, Simone Rivard-Roberts and Wambui Watene (1:38.34). Watene is now competing for Ball State, while Angerman is a junior and Rivard-Roberts is a sophomore.
At the indoor state meet, Steiner won the 60 (7.36) and 200 (23.75) to lead the Shamrocks to a seventh-place tie with Huber Heights Wayne (20) as Gahanna scored 52 to win its fourth consecutive title.
Coffman opened March 31 with a sixth-place finish (73) in the 11-team Wildcat Premier behind champion Gahanna (124) as Steiner won the 100 (12.13) and 200 (25.21) and Angerman finished first in the 300 hurdles (46.35).
Last year at state, Angerman placed eighth in the 300 hurdles (44.62) and Watene was runner-up in the same event (42.73) as the Shamrocks scored 39 points to place third behind Cincinnati Withrow (58) and Gahanna (51).
Also returning after competing at state is senior Jennifer Schulze, who joined Angerman, Watene and 2017 graduate Gabby McCloy on the 16th-place 1,600 relay (4:07.41).
Senior Ellie Weber returns to lead the distance corps after placing 11th at regional in the 3,200 (11:32.22).
"We've been doing a great job of integrating sprinters and distance runners in the same event like the (1,600 relay)," Weber said. "I'm personally excited to see some of our younger girls step it up and try new events."
Other seniors who should contribute include Marissa Kruse (800) and Delaney Marsalek (distance).
Lydia Ainsworth (middle distance), Ashley Fitzgerald (high jump) and Karlee North (pole vault, sprints) are top competitors from the sophomore class, as is Kinsey Crabtree, a sprinter and hurdler who is out with an injury.
Juniors SeRaye Braye (sprints) and Samia Juras (high jump) and freshman Abby Scherer (distance) are others looking to contribute. Braye is another who has been battling an injury.
"We fell short of the OCC title last year due to bad timing and illness with some of our key scorers, so I think we're all back and hungry to win," Weber said. "As far as the state (meet), we have some talent brewing and I think we'd all love to add some new members to the state team."
Tennis players taking on new roles
After losing two-time Division I state qualifier Bryan Yoshino to graduation, the boys tennis program is depending on others to step into key roles this season.
The top returnee is senior Robby Berling, who played second singles for much of last season as the Shamrocks finished 7-7 overall and went 3-1 in the OCC-Central to place second behind Upper Arlington (4-0).
Also back are seniors Grant Brooks and Alex Powell and junior Cobie Frank.
Coffman opened with a 4-1 league victory April 5 at Hilliard Davidson and faced New Albany on April 11.
"Robby Berling is going to be playing near the top of the lineup and Alex Powell will be near the top of the lineup as well," seventh-year coach Brett Hundertpfund said. "With the rest, we'll kind of just have to see."
Sophomore Peter Lin and freshmen Anton Bakunin and William Sun also are key players.
"Will and Anton are what I call 'tournament players,'" Hundertpfund said. "They take lessons and play in the offseason, which is exactly what we want. Peter was on the (junior varsity) last year, but he got better and earned a spot this year."
Yoshino, who is now competing for Kenyon College, placed fourth in the district tournament last year and lost to eventual state champion Paul Gota of Hunting Valley University School 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a first-round match at state.
The only other loss to graduation was Nick Kashani Motlagh, who teamed with senior Ketul Patel in the postseason and lost in the first round at district. Patel is not back with the team this spring.
Senior Pratheek Gandhodi was another contributor last season but moved to Florida in the offseason, according to Hundertpfund.
"We obviously want to try and win the conference, and I'm just hoping we can play hard every match, have some really good team wins and try and send some players and doubles teams deep into the postseason," Hundertpfund said.
*April 5 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 11 -- vs. New Albany
*April 12 -- at Marysville
April 14 -- vs. Toledo St. John's
April 16 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*April 17 -- at Central Crossing
April 18 -- at Jerome
*April 19 -- vs. Upper Arlington
April 21 -- Lexington Invitational
April 23 -- at St. Charles
April 24 -- at Olentangy
April 25 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
April 26 -- vs. Bexley
April 28 -- New Albany Invitational
April 30 -- vs. Scioto
May 2 -- at Olentangy Liberty
May 3 -- vs. Upper Arlington B
May 4 -- at Columbus Academy
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson
April 7 -- Lexington Invitational
April 11 -- at Scioto
April 14 -- Dublin Classic at home
April 17 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
April 20 -- Fulton Relays at Lancaster
April 24 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
April 28 -- Gary Smith Invitational at Thomas Worthington
May 1 -- vs. Jerome and Upper Arlington
May 4 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at UA
May 10, 12 -- OCC-Central meet at home
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball and boys volleyball teams:
*April 13 -- Home vs. Marysville
*April 16 -- At Central Crossing
*April 18 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
*April 12 -- At Newark
April 13 -- Home vs. Jerome
*April 16 -- Home vs. Marysville
April 14 -- At Jerome
*April 17 -- At Marysville
*April 12 -- Home vs. Westland
April 14 -- At Lakewood with Watterson
*April 16 -- At Marysville
*April 18 -- At Central Crossing
April 14 -- Spike for Tykes at Hiram College
April 16 -- Home vs. DeSales
*April 17 -- Home vs. Pickerington North