Amaiah Jones is motivated for her final chance to showcase her skills this spring.
The Hartley High School senior was a three-year varsity player for the girls basketball team who helped the Hawks win a Division II district title as a junior. She also is a veteran of two Division I state track and field meets.
This spring, she'll be in the spotlight more than ever on relays and open sprint races.
Jones hasn't made her college decision but would like to either play basketball or run track at the next level to follow in the footsteps of three of her family members.
"So far, I've actually had more looks in basketball than track because I haven't run a lot of open races," Jones said. "It's hard for (college) coaches to see you if you're on a relay all the time. I'm hoping this year with me being in more individual races that I can get more looks and more recruiting for track."
Jones competed at state for the first time as a sophomore, running the second leg of the 400-meter relay that included juniors Taneyza Robinson, London Ladd and Gana Lopez and finished third (47.61).
Then last spring, the same relay, which included Jones as the second leg, placed fifth (47.71) at state.
Jones came close to making it to state on the 400 relay as a freshman, but the relay, which also included Kacey Ragland, Lopez and Robinson, settled for fifth (48.74) at regional to fall one spot shy of qualifying for state.
This season, the Hawks' sprint corps includes senior Liana Burk, sophomore Bailey Smith and freshman England Ladd, but Jones is by far the most seasoned.
"She's going to lead that sprint group, with her being a senior and having some leadership skills," coach Reggie Osborne said. "Her natural distance is the 200. Amaiah is one of those kids that if you ask her to do it, she'll get it done. She's a solid sprinter."
Jones averaged 6.5 points as a 5-foot-8 guard this past winter for the girls basketball team, which finished 17-5 and reached a Division I district semifinal.
Many of her track skills, meanwhile, began developing long ago.
Her father, Richard Jones II, ran for Ohio State in the early 1990s and then competed for Guyana in the 400 and on the 1,600 relay at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
He also served as Hartley's track coach before a two-year stint working with Ohio State's women's sprint corps. He is now serving as an assistant at Eastmoor.
"Sometimes it can be irritating because I'm like, 'Dad, I hear you, you've been telling me this my whole life,' but (his advice is) very helpful because not everyone has access to someone who knows so much about the sport," Amaiah said. "He's talked about how he had to train a lot and that the dedication was definitely there, which has helped me think about (whether) I want to run in college, which I do."
One of Amaiah's brother, Malcolm Branch, played for Hartley's 2010 Division IV state championship football team and went on to play for West Virginia State.
Another of her siblings, Richard Jones III, is a 2015 Hartley graduate who plays football for Eastern Michigan.
"In general, sports is a big part of what we do," Jones II said. "(Amaiah has) always gone to track meets since she was born."
Amaiah is excited about what she and her teammates can accomplish this season.
In addition to running on the 400 and 800 relays, she's planning to run the open 200 as often as possible.
On April 13, Hartley scored 180 points to win the Hawks Invitational at home, as Jones was runner-up in the 200 (26.78) and ran on the winning 400 relay (51.92) and first-place 800 relay (1:50.61).
"It's different because I'm the senior," Jones said. "The last three years, I was like the baby of the group so they were trying to keep me strong-minded, so that's what I'm trying to do for (this year's team). You've got to work hard, work together and try to keep them motivated and determined so that they don't let the big teams scare them."
Baseball squad off to strong start
With a lineup filled with mostly sophomores and juniors, baseball coach Chris Sawyer wasn't sure how quickly his team would start this spring.
After losing 7-0 to Bloom-Carroll in their opener March 26, the Hawks won their next six games before splitting a doubleheader with Groveport on April 14, losing the first game 6-5 and winning the second by the same score.
Hartley opened CCL action with a 10-0 win over Ready on April 11 and beat St. Charles 3-0 in a league game April 13 and was 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the league before playing DeSales on April 18.
"We're progressing faster than I thought we would," Sawyer said. "Our effort has been great. Our pitching has been consistent and our defense has been strong. We're starting to understand that we need to work together for this to work."
Through five games, Luke Rawlins was leading the team with a .588 batting average and was second in RBI with seven. Adam McVicker was hitting .562 with seven RBI and eight runs scored, Mason Sawyer was hitting .538 and Phillip Cole had scored seven runs.
McVicker, a junior, hit the first two home runs of his prep career in a 10-0 win over Centennial on April 5.
Kylan Kortokrax was 2-1 on the mound with a 2.03 ERA and nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings and Jacob Culbertson was 2-0 with 11 strikeouts and just one walk and had given up no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
"We're a young team, so we really need to focus on our fundamentals and execution," coach Sawyer said. "We'd like to progress in our knowledge of situational baseball."
Softball team showing grit
The softball team will return to CCL action Monday, April 23, when it plays host to DeSales and continues league play Wednesday, April 25, at Watterson.
Hartley was 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the CCL before playing Ready on April 16.
After opening with a 6-4 loss to 2017 Division II state semifinalist Jonathan Alder on March 26, the Hawks beat defending City League champion Eastmoor Academy 11-4 on April 5 before losing to Dublin Coffman, a Division I program that won its first six games, 4-1 on April 10 and Watterson 18-4 in their league opener April 11.
Hartley then beat DeSales 15-14 in a CCL game April 12 and Whitehall 14-13 on April 13 before losing to Westerville North 12-0 on April 14.
Against Coffman, freshman shortstop Kami Kortokrax homered in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 2-1, but the Shamrocks got two runs in the sixth to seal the win.
Sophomore pitcher Bella Hoffman gave up just two runs over the first five innings in her first varsity start.
Against Whitehall, Tori Garey hit a walk-off three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
"The other team is a great offensive team and was just finding holes, but in the bottom of the seventh, I got a runner on first and third," coach Ashley Hayes said. "The thing I tell them is I just need a base hit and they produce. ... They feed off each other."
Girls lacrosse team preps for Blue Aces
The girls lacrosse team returns to action April 26 at Granville in a Central Independent League contest.
Hartley was 1-3 overall before opening CCL action April 17 at DeSales. The Hawks fell to 1-1 in the CIL with a 19-8 loss to Columbus Academy on April 12 and lost to Cincinnati Wyoming 8-7 on April 14.
Hartley beat Wellington 16-2 in a CIL game April 10 after having had more than two weeks off following a 13-9 loss to Coffman in its opener March 22.
Seniors Hannah McFeeters and Luci Kanowsky, both of whom had three goals against Coffman, have been among the team's leaders on offense.
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 20 -- At Watterson
April 21 -- At Johnstown (DH)
*April 23 -- At Ready. The Hawks beat the Silver Knights 10-0 on April 11.
April 24 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
*April 25 -- At St. Charles. The Hawks beat the Cardinals 3-0 on April 13.
April 20 -- Home vs. Grandview
*April 23 -- Home vs. DeSales. The Hawks beat the Stallions 15-14 on April 12.
*April 25 -- At Watterson. The Hawks lost to the Eagles 18-4 on April 11.
*April 24 -- Home vs. DeSales
April 25 -- Home vs. Fisher Catholic
TRACK & FIELD
April 20 -- Fulton Relays at Lancaster
April 21 -- Kallner Invitational at Hamilton Township
April 25 -- Braves Invitational at Whetstone