Despite having no seniors on its 800-meter relay last season, the Worthington Christian High School girls track and field team earned a seventh-place finish in the event at the Division III state meet.
Seniors Emily Hall and Emma Kasich and sophomores Ashley Hall and Mianna Hartings all have returned from that relay, which finished in 1 minute, 46.99 seconds as the Warriors scored 10 points at state to tie for 20th.
The other state competitor was Bridgette Rettstatt, a 2017 graduate who earned a runner-up finish in the high jump (5 feet, 8 inches) and is now competing in track and basketball for Liberty University.
"We miss the athletes that graduated last year like Bridgette Rettstatt for the girls team, but both of our relays that went to states last year have all of our athletes returning, so it should be exciting to see how (we) can do," Emily Hall said. "As far as goals are concerned, we always hope for both girls and guys to perform well in the conference meet and hopefully win, and we'd like to advance as many of our athletes to district, regionals and states.
"We have the goal of returning to states and placing in the top half of the podium at states this year (after placing) seventh last year in the (800 relay)."
The Hall sisters, Hartings and Kasich also ran on the 400 relay that placed 12th (51.7) at state last year.
Worthington Christian opened April 6 by placing fifth (73) in the 10-team Diller Invitational behind champion and host Buckeye Valley (125).
The Warriors, who placed fourth in the MSL-Ohio Division meet last season, also return seniors Alex Evans (middle distance) and Ellie Myers (middle distance), junior Caroline Mousa (middle distance) and sophomore Madelyn Patrick (distance).
Freshman Katherine Weakley, according to fourth-year coach Rod Zody, has been "showing some promise" in the high jump, where she's joined by sophomore Isabelle Gilham.
Freshman Oyinda Oladejo-Lawal is competing in the long jump and sophomore Gabi Burford is a returnee in the shot put, discus and long jump.
Sophomore Jacqueline Seifert is another in the throwing events.
In addition to Rettstatt, sophomore Ayanna Mabry and senior Jenna Lake are no longer in the program after contributing last season. Mabry was a regional qualifier in the shot put but transferred, according to Zody.
"We've got a nice nucleus of girls working hard," Zody said. "Last year, we were very underclassmen-dominated in terms of our point scorers. The girls team is pretty young. There's some young, talented kids who are going to have some bright futures."
Boys track team has veteran look
At last year's Division II state meet, the boys track and field team's 3,200 relay of Jake Bertelsen, Jordan Jackson, Kyle Smith and Luke Smith captured the championship in a program-record 7:50.65 and Jackson added a fourth-place finish in the 400 (48.39).
Those four athletes now are seniors for a Warriors team that could have an even better shot at postseason success after moving down to Division III.
"We've got a lot of talent," Zody said. "Our boys were the smallest Division II team in the state last year. Now that we're back down to Division III, it's nice because it was always hard for our (girls and boys) teams to be in different divisions. It makes it easier for the coaching staff, and for the athletes, it'll be fun for them to be together."
Worthington Christian opened April 6 by scoring 141 points to capture the championship in the 10-team Diller Invitational, ahead of runner-up Whitehall (131).
Bertelsen added a 13th-place finish in the 1,600 (4:26.76) at state last season as the Warriors scored 15 points to place 17th.
At regional last year, Jackson, the Smith brothers and 2017 graduate Sammy Myers ran on the 1,600 relay that placed seventh (3:27.49), Jackson finished eighth in the 200 (23.41) and senior Ethan Crary ran on the 400 relay that finished 13th (45.6) with 2017 graduates Emerson Patrick, Alex Tucker and Isaac Wilson.
Sophomore Montell Edwards should be another key sprinter.
Also competing in middle distance are junior Taylor Vallangeon and sophomore Ben Place.
Sophomores Dillon Fulks and Alex Harrison are among the team's top hurdlers, and Harrison also competes in the high jump along with junior Charles Collins, sophomore Jake Thompson and freshman Aaron Manzer.
Thompson is part of a long jump corps that also includes junior Grant Ostermeyer.
According to Zody, senior Seth Parsell is the program's record holder in the discus and senior Grant Mudge has one of the program's top 10 throws in the shot put.
The Warriors were MSL-Ohio runners-up last season.
"We're looking to do some special things this year," Zody said. "The kids are great kids. We know we've got some kids on the boys side that can score a lot of points at the state meet. It's a big, giant puzzle trying to figure out what to do with each of them. Those are good problems."
Youth infuses softball team
Of the 10 players who competed last season, only three have returned for the softball team.
However, the Warriors do have a larger roster with 13 players out this season, including nine freshmen.
"We've just got to get better and just get playing time," third-year coach Matt Heidorn said. "We've got four girls that have never played softball before. When you have four seniors and three others that don't (return), you're going to be young. They're all learning, but they're just very, very inexperienced. Our goal this year really is to teach the game and try to get experience playing."
Worthington Christian fell to 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the MSL-Ohio with a 14-9 loss to Grandview on April 5.
The Warriors opened March 26 with a 12-1 loss to Drexel Hill (Pa.) Monsignor Bonner in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They then lost to Pikeville (Kentucky) 14-8 on March 27, Richfield Revere 16-2 on March 28 and Waynesburg (Pa.) West Greene 11-1 on March 29 in Myrtle Beach before returning home and beating Grandview 18-7 in their league opener April 2.
The only returnees are juniors Sophia Hevel (SS/P) and Kate Tomallo (CF) and sophomore Natalie Opava (LF). Tomallo was named second-team all-league last season and Hevel was honorable mention all-league.
Freshman Lilly Heidorn, the coach's daughter, is the team's No. 1 pitcher and also plays shortstop and third base. She takes over in the circle for her older sister, Ava Heidorn, a 2017 graduate who is playing for Louisiana Monroe after hitting .500 and making first-team all-league a year ago.
"Lilly is our best pitcher, but we don't have a lot of defense around her," coach Heidorn said. "I'm not going to wear out Lilly pitching. She's probably better than Ava was at this age. She's very, very athletic, and hit a home run in our second game (in Myrtle Beach). She's a good hitter but she's learning and getting better. ... We didn't play any bad teams (in Myrtle Beach). They all got experience down there."
Other newcomers are junior Rachel Smith (OF) and freshmen Kylie Doon (3B/C), Evie Hackworth (OF/DP), Rachel Han (2B/OF), Lilly Lampryk (OF), Abby Lanker (C/3B), Mia Schoonover (1B/P), Izzy Slaughter (OF/1B) and Julia Todd (OF).
Last season, Worthington Christian finished 15-7 overall and went 8-2 in the MSL-Ohio to share the league championship with West Jefferson, marking its first league title since 1997. The Warriors were seeded fourth in the Division III district tournament but were upset by 13th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek 7-2 in a second-round game.
In addition to Ava Heidorn, the Warriors lost Lynsey Meeks (3B), Kara Godsey (SS) and Breanna Abel (C) to graduation, while seniors Caroline Cole (2B), Emma McIntosh (1B) and Avery Thompson (RF) elected not to return.
Meeks, who batted .509 and was first-team all-league, is now playing for James Madison. Godsey hit .474 and is playing women's golf for Grace College.
March 26 – Drexel Hill (Pa.) Monsignor Bonner in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 27 – Pikeville (Ky.) in Myrtle Beach
March 28 – Richfield Revere in Myrtle Beach
March 29 – Waynesburg (Pa.) West Greene in Myrtle Beach
*April 2 – at Grandview
*April 5 – vs. Grandview
April 10 – at Liberty Union
April 12 – vs. Berne Union
*April 16 – vs. London
*April 18 – at London
April 19 – at Buckeye Valley
April 21 – at Olentangy Liberty
*April 23 – at Whitehall
*April 25 – vs. Whitehall
April 26 – vs. Madison Plains
April 27 – vs. Delaware Christian
*April 30 – at Bexley
May 1 – at Berne Union
*May 2 – vs. Bexley
May 4 – vs. Fredericktown
May 8 – at Fairfield Christian
TRACK & FIELD
April 6 – Diller Invitational at Buckeye Valley
April 10 – at Thomas Worthington with Upper Arlington
April 13 – Bexley Relays
April 16 – at Westerville Central
April 21 – Bloom-Carroll Invitational
April 23 – vs. Cristo Rey, Grove City, Harvest Prep and Newark Catholic
April 27 – Olentangy Invitational
April 30 – at Olentangy Liberty
May 8, 11 – MSL-Ohio meet at London
Below are the coming schedules for the Worthington Christian baseball and boys tennis teams:
*April 16 – Home vs. London
*April 18 – At London
*April 12 – At Bexley
April 13 – Home vs. Buckeye Valley
April 14 – At Teays Valley
*April 17 – Home vs. Whitehall