James Hickman is expecting a smooth spring season for the Reynoldsburg High School boys track and field team.
That's assuming his body cooperates.
During the indoor season this winter, the senior, who is the Raiders' top all-around jumper and one of their better sprinters, missed time with a stress fracture in his lower back.
When healthy, he figures to be one of the most consistent scorers for a team looking for new leaders after losing a strong 2017 senior class.
The Raiders finished second at district and fifth at state in Division I last season.
"I feel like it should get better," Hickman said. "I'm coming off rehab from a back injury, so I think I should only get better. I'm taking it slow in the high jump. They said (the injury occurred) from jumping and twisting a lot."
The Raiders next compete in the Lancaster Fulton Relays on Friday, April 20, and have about three more weeks of the regular season remaining before the OCC-Ohio Division meet is held May 9 at Lancaster and May 12 at Dublin Coffman.
"One of our best is James Hickman," coach Richard Ladowitz said. "He placed in the OCC in the long jump and high jump last year and was a district placer in the high jump. We're going to rely on him pretty heavily."
Hickman opened his season by placing fourth in the long jump (19 feet, 8 inches) and running on the runner-up 400-meter relay (45.57 seconds) with juniors Keyshawn Brown and Camby Goff and sophomore Adrian Logan on March 31 in the Newark Invitational.
Then on April 6 in the Mingo Relays at Logan, he earned a runner-up finish in the long jump (19-3 1/2).
Despite not competing in his first two prep seasons, Hickman had a personal best of 21-8 in the long jump before the Raiders competed April 17 at Canal Winchester.
In last season's OCC-Ohio meet, he was third in the long jump (20-7 3/4) and fourth in the high jump (5-10).
The Raiders had a strong group of long jumpers that included 2017 graduates Travis Marx and Sterling Smith. That helped Hickman learn the nuances of the event last spring.
"My goal (in the long jump) is to get a 22-0 or above this year," Hickman said.
Hickman also placed seventh in the high jump (5-10) in the district 1 meet a year ago.
On April 13 in the eight-team New Albany Invitational, Hickman won the high jump with a personal-best 6-2 as the Raiders captured the championship with 125.5 points.
Hickman, who competed in track in junior high before returning to the sport last season, also previously played basketball and football for the Raiders.
Before heading off to college, possibly to the University of Cincinnati and with hopes of someday becoming a firefighter, Hickman also is excited to play a bigger role in the Raiders' sprint corps, which also includes juniors Lance Gauthney and Dionte Roddy.
"High school went by fast, but I felt like it (has been) a good high school career the two years I've been on the team," Hickman said.
Baseball squad tries to hang tough
Although it again is finding it difficult to win league games after going 1-13 in the OCC-Ohio last season, the baseball team has hung tough when junior Michael Tooker has been on the mound.
In a 4-0 loss to Gahanna on April 2, Tooker tossed four shutout innings before the Lions scored all of their runs in the fifth.
Tooker threw just 74 pitches in the game and came back April 6 to allow three runs over five innings before Grove City broke through with a four-run seventh and won 7-2.
On April 11, Tooker gave up four runs in the first but settled down and pitched into the sixth in a 5-2 loss to Pickerington Central.
"He's got quite a few pitches, keeps the ball down and he really spots the ball," coach Bob Benjamin said. "When he's not pitching, he'll play first and can swing it a little bit."
Reynoldsburg was 4-7 overall after losing to Central 12-6 on April 13 and Central Crossing 11-5 on April 14, and 0-6 in the league before playing Pickerington North on April 18.
The Raiders swept their first two doubleheaders.
They beat Whitehall 12-0 and 10-0 on March 31 as Cam McCloud had five hits and Reynoldsburg had one of its most consistent days at the plate this season, according to Benjamin.
The other doubleheader sweep was over Granville 12-8 and 7-3 on April 7.
"We've just got to stick with our game plan when (we bat)," Benjamin said.
Softball team rallies to beat Gahanna
There were plenty of hugs to go around after the softball team rallied from a 7-2 deficit to win 10-7 on April 11 at four-time defending Division I district champion Gahanna.
The Raiders had lost 101 consecutive league games before beating Newark 10-9 in eight innings in early May 2016 for their only league win that season.
Then last spring, Reynoldsburg beat Grove City 8-7 in the second round of league play for its only OCC-Ohio victory.
The Raiders and Lions both have been members of the OCC-Ohio since 2008, and Gahanna had won every meeting during that time.
"For us, this win means so much," said senior Mackenzie Huey, who had three hits, including two home runs.
"It means the world to my team."
Reynoldsburg was 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the league before playing Pickerington Central on April 16 and Pickerington North on April 18.
The Raiders lost to Grove City 20-2 on April 12 in a league game, fell to Olentangy 15-0 on April 13 and split a doubleheader April 14, beating Grandview 10-0 and losing to Watkins Memorial 5-2.
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg baseball, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 20 -- At Lancaster
April 21 -- Home vs. Ready (DH)
*April 23 -- Home vs. Lancaster
*April 25 -- At Gahanna. The Raiders lost to the Lions 4-0 on April 2.
*April 19 -- At Lancaster
April 21 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township and Centennial
*April 23 -- Home vs. Gahanna. The Raiders beat the Lions 10-7 on April 11.
*April 25 -- At Grove City
*April 19 -- At Lancaster
April 20 -- Home vs. Village Academy
April 21 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
April 23 -- At Westerville South
April 24 -- At Big Walnut
April 25 -- Home vs. Delaware
TRACK & FIELD
April 20 -- Lancaster Fulton Relays
April 23 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome, Licking Heights and Westland
*April 19 -- At Pickerington Central
*April 23 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*April 24 -- Home vs. Pickerington North