Worthington Kilbourne High School boys track and field coach Josh Stegman believes a strong finish by his team this season would bode well for next spring given the number of young athletes on his roster.
"We've got some good athletes, good leaders and some young guys stepping up, and that makes the future look very good," Stegman said. "It's a nice combination and it's fun to know that most of our guys will be back next year. We're hoping to set them all up for greater success next year."
Among the leaders are juniors Jack Begley and Elijah Young.
"Jack is a leader on the track for our distance squad, but he is always one of the first ones to cheer on the rest of his teammates," Stegman said. "If he isn't warming up or cooling down, Jack can always be found cheering on his teammates or members of the girls team.
"On the track, Jack has team-best times in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 (meters). He has run the fastest 3,200 since I took over as head coach (in 2016). The quality of his workouts has consistently lowered his times and everyone's times in the distance events."
Begley finished first in the 3,200 (10 minutes, 5.17 seconds) in the Hilliard Bradley Invitational on May 4 and ran leadoff for the winning 3,200 relay (8:31.61), ahead of Tanner Williams, Caleb Martin and Keegan Smith. Begley also placed fourth in the 800 (personal-record 2:04.38).
"It's been a very good season for me," Begley said. "I didn't have an impressive cross country season, but I did well in swimming and I think having two practices a day in swimming helped set me up for track. My PR in the 3,200 is 9:56 and in the 1,600, it's 4:31.4. I just started competing in the open 800 this year.
"In the past, I've run the (3,200 relay) as just a warm-up for my individual events, but now I have really come to enjoy it. It's great to be on a relay because you have teammates that are relying on one another and cheering each other on. I don't get that in most of my events in track or swimming and cross country."
Young finished first in the pole vault (12 feet, 6 inches) and third in the long jump (20-1 1/2) in the Bradley Invitational, where the Wolves placed fifth (64 points) of eight teams, behind the host and champion Jaguars (124).
"Elijah qualified for the (Division I) state meet in the pole vault last year and is on pace to break out as we head into the postseason," Stegman said. "Coach Tom Wisard rejoined the staff as jumps coach after a hiatus and he and Eli have meshed from the outset and have been working well together to modify some habits Eli had developed. Eli also changed equipment which, with consistent technique, should have him challenging for another appearance in the state meet. He is also on the hunt to break the school record in the long jump.
"Elijah leads by example and also has encouraged others to take regular ice baths after practice to help with recovery. He and Jack are strong leaders."
Stegman said Smith, a sophomore, and junior Lucas LaFleur have been key first-year additions to the team.
"Both have made an immediate impact and both play soccer," Stegman said. "Coach (Jon) Sprunger does a great job preparing his athletes for soccer in the fall. Keegan is playing a near-full club soccer schedule this spring, so it has been a challenge. He was a specialist in the (3,200 relay) at the beginning of the season, but has improved greatly and likely will support our (1,600 relay) as well in the postseason.
"Lucas has found his niche in the 200 and 400, as well as the associated relays. His times are starting to really drop."
Another soccer player, senior Jason Bowen, had been a key contributor.
"Jason is a first-year guy in track who has been a good fit for the 300 hurdles," Stegman said. "He is running in the low-to-mid 40s and has been an immediate impact on our (1,600 relay) along with Keegan and Lucas. He has also been a member of our (800 relay) that is hoping to get under 1:30 to advance in the postseason."
The girls team finished seventh (42) in the Bradley Invitational behind champion Marysville (111), as Sasha Bomser (1,600, 5:30.1), Keira Smith (3,200, 12:03.46) and Audrey Hunt (long jump, 16-4 1/2) all won titles.
The boys and girls teams are competing in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Dublin Coffman. Both then will prepare for the district 1 meet next week at Hilliard Darby. Running preliminaries will be held Tuesday, May 15, followed by field events May 17 and running finals May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
Boys tennis players compete in sectional
Members of the boys tennis team will compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Pickerington Central.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 17 at Bradley and May 19 at Upper Arlington.
In first-round singles matches, Shivesh Sankar will play Central's Brady Phelps, Gordon Liu will face Canal Winchester's Caden Sweeney and Jack Leftridge will play Pickerington North's Sam Marrison.
In first-round doubles matches, Jack Lindaman and William Wiet will play Canal Winchester's Corey Berner and Jake Chapman and Zach Palmer and Joseph Scherer will face Central's Evan Gibson and Carson Stanley.
Postseason underway for baseball team
The baseball team played host to 15th-seeded Bradley in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 9.
Kilbourne, which is seeded seventh of 48 teams, had a first-round bye and entered the postseason with a 14-8 overall record.
The second-round winner plays 10th-seeded Pickerington Central or 24th-seeded Westerville Central in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a neutral site to be determined. The semifinal winner likely will face sixth-seeded New Albany or 11th-seeded Big Walnut in a district final Wednesday, May 16, at a neutral site to be determined.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
Kilbourne, which lost to Pickerington Central 17-6 on May 1, defeated Thomas 10-8 on May 2 to finish 6-6 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Softball team falls to Warriors
The 33rd-seeded softball team lost at 27th-seeded Westerville North 2-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7 to finish 11-13 overall.
Kasey Trout allowed just five hits and produced the Wolves' only run with a home run in the fourth inning.
Kilbourne won its final three regular-season games and finished 4-8 in the OCC-Cardinal following wins over Thomas (18-5 on May 2 and 10-2 on May 3) and Dublin Scioto (13-3 on May 4).
Shaut steps down as wrestling coach
Brett Shaut recently stepped down as coach of the wrestling team.
"I'm officially retiring," said Shaut, who works at Huntington Bank and guided the program for seven years. "I've been debating this for a couple of years now, but there's never a good time because I love the kids and the program.
"But we lost five seniors and most of the boys coming back are sophomores this year, so I just felt this was the best time. I think I left the program in good shape where the new coach will have an easy transition."
Athletics director Jeff Todd said there is no timetable to hire a new coach.
"We've posted the opening and the first applications are just coming in now," he said. "We want to work quickly, yet be diligent. Brett did a nice job for us and we want someone who can continue the growth. The kids, parents and staff all appreciate and recognize what Brett was able to do. He had a healthy coaching career for us."
When Shaut took over, he became the fifth coach of the program in six seasons. One of the improvements made during the past seven seasons was getting the middle school and youth programs on the same page.
"When I took over, the youth program was Worthington-wide and run by Thomas," Shaut said. "We started our own youth program and moved the middle school practices and youth practices to Kilbourne so that all the coaches would be on the same page.
"Next year will be the year that the first kids in our youth program will compete at the high school level as freshmen. I think the continuity has been a blessing. My only hope is that we can get someone on the staff in any capacity who is in the school building during the day. That's the one thing we don't have now and it hurts with recruitment and encouragement."
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and boys volleyball teams:
May 15 -- Home vs. 14th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 17th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in second round of Division I, Region 3 tournament. Winner plays eighth-seeded Thomas or ninth-seeded Westerville North in quarterfinal May 18 at home of higher seed. The Wolves are seeded second.
May 17 -- Home vs. 15th-seeded Dayton Miami Valley in first round of Division II, Region 7 tournament. Winner plays sixth-seeded Hartley or 11th-seeded Dayton Carroll in second round May 19 at home of higher seed. The Wolves are seeded third.
May 11 -- At Pickerington North
May 17 -- Home vs. Watterson