Jordan Jackson left last year's Division II state track and field meet experiencing varying emotions.
As the anchor leg of the Worthington Christian boys 3,200-meter relay, Jackson joined fellow juniors Jake Bertelsen, Kyle Smith and Luke Smith as champions in 7 minutes, 50.65 seconds on the opening day of the meet.
On the final day, Jackson again ended up on the podium with a fourth-place finish in the 400, but his time of 48.39 wasn't what he was hoping for.
With the Warriors now competing in Division III, improving on that time has been a driving force this spring for the senior who had the third-best time in last week's area honor roll with a 49.22.
"It was really the time that I ran last year that was frustrating," Jackson said. "I was trying to go (faster than) 48. I've got 49.22 twice this year, so I'm happy with that because it means I should get a big (personal best) this year."
Jackson is a veteran of three state meets but acknowledges that he crossed a new barrier with how he performed last spring.
After running on the 1,600 relay that finished 15th (3:33.98) at state in 2015, Jackson placed sixth in the 400 (49.32) and ran on the fourth-place 1,600 relay (3:32.31) at state in 2016.
He plans to compete for Eastern Michigan, which began showing interest when Jackson was at state last season.
"My freshman year, I was nothing special," Jackson said. "My sophomore year was average. My junior year was my breakout season and even then, I feel like I could have raised the roof a little higher. It's just crazy to put in the work and it's awesome to see the results."
All four of the Warriors' competitors on the 3,200 relay have returned as seniors. Worthington Christian had the area's 10th-best overall time (8:18.76) in that event but was first among Division III programs.
Bertelsen was in last week's area honor roll in the 1,600 (4:30.82) and 3,200 (9:46.77) and figures to be a contender for a long postseason in at least one of those events, while Kyle Smith had one of the area's better times in the 800 (1:59.3) last week.
"(Winning state in the 3,200 relay) was fun," Jackson said. "The four of us have gotten a lot closer."
The boys and girls teams are competing this week in the MSL-Ohio Division meet, which began May 8 and concludes Friday, May 11, at London.
Both team then will compete in the district 1 meet, which begins Tuesday, May 15, with running preliminaries, continues May 17 with field events and concludes May 19 at Watkins Memorial with running finals.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 23 and 25 at Fairfield Union.
Jackson's ability to compete in several events gives coach Rod Zody flexibility individually and with relays. Jackson was second among Division III runners in last week's area honor roll in the the 200 (22.54) and also has a competitive time in the 100 (11.18).
"We're happy with where all of them are," Zody said. "It's just a chess match with us being back in Division III. We're one of the bigger boys teams and it's more of a situation of plugging them into the right events. Jordan is a kid that could go to the state meet in nine different events. It's figuring out the right events for him and the best matchups."
Tennis team set to open postseason
The boys tennis team begins the Division II postseason with a sectional tournament Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Columbus Academy.
Sophomores Tommy Robinson and Benjy Homoelle are seeded third in doubles and have a first-round bye.
Also competing in doubles are sophomores Jake Flanagan and Aaron Pettit.
In singles, senior AjAi Smith faces Africentric's Austin Morns, senior Isaac Deskins plays Grandview's Matt York and sophomore Peter Tsibouris plays Academy's Ryan Wahl in first-round matches.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 17 at Academy and May 19 at Upper Arlington.
Baseball, softball teams open tourneys
The 14th-seeded baseball team opened the Division III district tournament May 8 at home against 16th-seeded Liberty Union in a first-round game.
The winner plays at fourth-seeded Northridge in the second round Thursday, May 10, with that winner playing sixth-seeded North Union or eighth-seeded Newark Catholic in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a site to be announced.
The district final is Wednesday, May 16, at a site to be announced, with the district champion advancing to a regional semifinal May 24 at Elida's Ed Sandy Field.
The Warriors beat Bexley 8-1 on May 2 to close the regular season at 8-13 overall and 5-5 in the MSL-Ohio. Derek Fabian went 3-for-4 with one RBI and Conner Crawford was 3-for-4 with four RBI to lead the offense in support of pitcher Michael Rettstatt, who struck out eight, walked one and didn't give up an earned run while pitching a complete game.
The softball team is seeded 22nd in the Division III district tournament and played at ninth-seeded Galion Northmor in the first round May 8.
The winner plays at seventh-seeded West Jefferson in the second round May 10, with that winner playing fourth-seeded Ready, 10th-seeded Northridge or 23rd-seeded Cristo Rey in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 15, at a site to be announced. The district final is May 18 or 19 at Pickerington Central.
The Warriors were 4-17 overall heading into the tournament, having beaten Grandview 14-9 on April 5, Millersport 13-0 on April 14 and Centerburg 5-1 on May 3. According to coach Matt Heidorn, they also received a forfeit win over Millersport on April 14 because the Lakers elected not to play the second game of the previously scheduled doubleheader.
Worthington Christian plays Fairfield Christian on May 10 if it doesn't have a tournament game and also will face Delaware Christian on Saturday, May 12, in a doubleheader.
Juniors Kate Tomallo and Sophia Hevel and freshman Lilly Heidorn have led the Warriors, according to coach Heidorn.
"We're getting better every day," coach Heidorn said. "We're starting seven freshmen every game, so you're going to take your lumps."