Andrew Bendick will be moving south in a few months for college, but the Olentangy Liberty High School senior boys track and field standout never got too down about central Ohio's poor weather this spring.
"The (bad) weather is what we like to call 'Liberty conditions,'" Bendick said. "We love to run in the rain and cold. We excel at it. Our guys like to push each other."
Bendick, who previously has lived in Louisiana, Virginia and Texas, is planning to continue a family tradition when he attends Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with the plan of studying finance. He still has family in that area.
Although Bendick isn't planning to compete in college, he figures to have plenty of competition ahead of him this spring.
On April 27 in the Marion Night Invitational at Marion Harding, the Patriots were second (83.5 points) of 14 teams behind Ashland (91) as Bendick led the way by winning the 100 meters (11.08 seconds). He also was second in the 200 (22.99), third in the 400 (50.53) and joined Justin Chrisman, Gavin Smith and Ubby Suligavi on the third-place 400 relay (44.18).
Last season, Bendick ran on the Division I regional-qualifying 400 and 800 relays.
His brother, junior Luke Bendick, has the area's best performance in the pole vault (14 feet, 7 inches) this season.
"My mom loves running, but she's more of a distance runner," Andrew said. "I've always loved sprinting and been fast my whole life so I figured, 'Why not try out for track?' (Luke) does the pole vault so we're kind of in separate worlds, but we like to watch each other and motivate each other.
"Since last year I've (set personal-best times in) the 100 and 200, so I'm feeling good about my times and about how I'm running."
Also in the Marion meet, Joseph Johnson was third in the 1,600 (4:39.78).
Ryan Miller (hurdles), Will Koberna (middle distance) and Jared Whitfield (high jump) are others hoping for strong postseasons.
Whitfield, who is planning to attend Ohio State to study actuarial science, has cleared 6-1 in the high jump after making it to the regional meet last season.
"I'm definitely trying to make it to state this year," he said.
Girls track team taking big strides
The girls track team enters the Delaware County Elite 8 meet Friday, May 4, at Orange coming off a title in the 15-team Marion Night Invitational, in which it scored 119 points.
"I feel we are progressing well," coach James Dingus said. "The weather has been a factor, but now we're starting to find ourselves in the field events. Each week we continue to see improvement in all the events, which is a good thing."
Sydney Englehart led the Patriots with titles in the 400 (59.14) and 200 (26.05) and a runner-up finish in the long jump (16-2 1/2). She also joined Jessica Barna, Carrie Lawal and Sydney Reed on the first-place 800 relay (1:46.2).
Also winning were the 400 relay of Lawal, Reed, Sienna Sakich and Lauren Walsh (50.99) and Emma Bower in the 3,200 (11:12.17).
Bower missed the first four meets with hamstring and muscle issues but is planning to focus on the 3,200 as well as the 3,200 relay, which also featured Madeline Ailes, Lily Biros and Audrey Piero and finished second (10:03.53) in Marion.
Nicole Tonetti was runner-up in the 100 (12.95) and 200 (26.21) and fourth in the long jump (16-1 1/2). Other strong performances were turned in by Mollie Kunar in the shot put (third, 34-4) and Piero in the 3,200 (third, 11:53.53).
Gracie Sprankle, who did not compete, has the area's second-best time in the 3,200 (11:09.68) this season and also is a strong in the 1,600.
"Gracie Sprankle has been working extremely hard and has been very impressive in her workouts," Dingus said. "Sydney Englehart has been strong as a senior leading our sprint group and in the long jump. She's a strong leader that helps to keep the team focused and ready to compete. Mollie Kunar has excelled in the shot put this year. She had a great offseason and the start of this season has been promising."
Volleyball team near top of league
Any chance the boys volleyball team has of winning at least a share of the OCC-Buckeye Division title likely rests on how it performs Thursday, May 3, at home against Olentangy.
The Patriots had won five in a row and were 9-3 overall and 7-1 in the league before playing Westerville Central on May 1. Olentangy was 16-2 overall and 8-0 in the league before facing Orange on May 1.
Senior libero Shiva Dubbaka, who began the season as Liberty's most experienced player, has been out with a back injury and is sidelined indefinitely.
Sophomore Jacob Myers has moved up from the junior varsity to fill in.
"The only team we've lost to (in the league) is Olentangy, and we play them (this) week," coach Dave Hale said. "Our first (match against Olentangy), we were definitely not ready to play. They're a really strong, really tough team. They've got 10 or 11 seniors and for us, it's about being consistent, so if we can find some consistency we can be OK. I've told them that if they just play hard the whole time, whatever happens, happens."
The drawing for the Division I East Region tournament is May 14.
"Honestly the main thing is just our hustle recently," Hale said. "We've been making plays on the court. I was concerned with our passing early on, but that's gotten a lot better. Overall, our play has been really solid. It took us the first probably three or four matches to figure out what we want to do rotation-wise, but we kind of have that figured out now. The big thing is adjusting to the injuries we have and hopefully get healthy for the tournament."
Girls lacrosse team hits hot streak
The girls lacrosse team likely settled for a second consecutive runner-up finish in the OCC-Buckeye, but there has been plenty to celebrate the past few weeks.
After losing back-to-back games to New Albany (15-9 on April 5) and Upper Arlington (19-7 on April 7), the Patriots won their next seven before playing Olentangy on May 1.
Liberty was 9-2 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Buckeye heading into that game and has three games remaining in the regular season.
The postseason seeding meeting is Sunday, May 6, and Liberty will compete in Division I, Region 1, which also includes New Albany. The Eagles were 6-0 in the OCC-Buckeye heading into their league finale May 1 against Big Walnut.
In Liberty's 18-5 victory over Westerville Central on April 26, Madison Rapier scored four goals, Molly McCormack had three and Paige Haughn added two.
McCormack scored four goals and goalkeeper Maddie Harrington made 13 saves in a 10-8 win over Granville on April 18.
During the Patriots' winning streak, they gave up an average of just 4.4 goals per game.
"Our schedule this year (was) front-loaded," coach Nicole Stines said. "I'm extremely excited for them moving forward as us as coaches are really beginning to see them get through the mental block I think they put themselves into."
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 4 -- At Olentangy. The Patriots beat the Braves 6-4 on April 20 and 10-6 on April 23.
May 9 -- Home vs. 31st-seeded Westerville North or 47th-seeded Franklin Heights in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 23rd-seeded Olentangy Orange, 25th-seeded Thomas Worthington or 35th-seeded Central Crossing in district semifinal May 15. Liberty is the top seed.
May 4-5 -- Midwest Lacrosse Conference tournament in Indianapolis
*May 8 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
May 3 -- Home vs. Thomas
May 3 -- At Buckeye Valley
May 9 -- At 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg or home against 41st-seeded Columbus West in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays top-seeded Central Crossing in district semifinal May 14. The Patriots are the 22nd seed.
May 3 -- Home vs. Bexley
May 9 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
TRACK & FIELD
May 4 -- Delaware County Elite 8 at Orange
*May 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy. The Patriots lost to the Braves 25-10, 25-21, 25-15 on April 17.
May 4 -- Home vs. DeSales
May 8 -- At Mount Vernon