Grove City High School track and field coach Jane Taylor uses the challenging competition in the OCC-Ohio Division to help her teams prepare for the Division I district meet and potentially beyond.
The boys and girls teams each finished sixth in the league meet, which was held May 9 at Lancaster and May 12 at Dublin Coffman.
The teams now are competing in the district 2 meet, which began May 15, continued May 16 and concludes Saturday, May 19, at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North.
"The kids are really focused on trying to move forward," Taylor said. "We actually have some individuals that are going to do pretty well (at district). We know how hard our (league) is. I look at the times in all the other leagues and ours is like a state track meet and it just seems to get better and better. Our kids did really well."
The boys are competing at district with league rivals Gahanna, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg, and the girls are competing with Gahanna, Lancaster and Reynoldsburg.
R.J. Lewis, Adam Meister, Jacob Kifer and Kingston McKinstry led the boys team in the league meet, finishing second in the 800-meter relay (1 minute, 31.35 seconds).
Lewis also was fourth in the 200 (22.1) and joined Meister, McKinstry and E.J. Rondez on the fourth-place 1,600 relay (3:28.69).
Senior Evan Whitaker, who is hoping to earn his first regional berth in track, finished fourth in the 3,200 (9:53.66).
"I'm happy with how I did," said Whitaker, who competed at regional in cross country last fall, finishing 52nd (17:01.01) of 129 runners. "(The league meet) was tough competition, so it was a good race to go out there and see what I have."
Whitaker, Meister, Rondez and Jared Ellis were fourth in the 3,200 relay (8:20.44).
"I think my chances (of qualifying for regional) are really high," Whitaker said. "Top four go on to regional and I'm seeded fourth (in the 3,200). It would mean a lot if I could get to regional."
The boys finished with 33 points, behind Pickerington Central (166), Gahanna (108), Lancaster (94), North (76) and Reynoldsburg (44).
"The only way you can get better is to run against the best," Taylor said.
Jenna Slabaugh, Olivia Norbut, Brooke Armbrust and Ellie Norbut led the girls, finishing fourth in the 800 relay (1:53.02).
The girls finished with seven points, behind Gahanna (164), Lancaster (123), Central (107), North (97) and Reynoldsburg (23).
Baseball team reaches semifinal
The third-seeded baseball team was 18-8 before playing 16th-seeded Marysville in a Division I district semifinal May 15.
The winner plays top-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 23rd-seeded Olentangy Orange in a district final Thursday, May 17, at a neutral site to be determined. Grove City defeated Liberty 7-4 on April 21.
The district champion plays Dublin Jerome, Gahanna, Lancaster or Upper Arlington in a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
The regional final is May 25 at Coffman.
After a first-round bye in the district tournament, the Greyhounds defeated 36th-seeded Delaware 8-3 on May 9 at home. Grove City scored seven runs in the third inning to take control.
Nick Ankrum, Branden Hopper and Brennan Meisler all had two hits.
Softball team loses in semifinal
The ninth-seeded softball team lost to 10th-seeded Teays Valley 16-6 in six innings in a Division I district semifinal May 14 at Pickerington North to finish 18-10.
Grove City fell behind 12-0 in the first inning.
Mylie Torres hit a two-run home run in the third.
The Greyhounds defeated 42nd-seeded Walnut Ridge 24-0 in five innings in the second round May 9 at home.
Boys tennis team competes at sectional
The doubles team of senior Noah Bungart and junior Tyler Sander led the boys tennis team in a Division I sectional May 10 at Pickerington Central, coming within a win of qualifying for district.
After a first-round bye, Bungart and Sander defeated Marietta's Ethan Maxon and Ian Coleman 6-0, 6-2 before losing to top-seeded Jack Dabek and Reese Yakubov of St. Charles 6-1, 6-0 in a quarterfinal. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.
Also at sectional, senior Camden Hix went 1-1 and sophomore Kaleb Coakley and freshman Nick Bungart both went 0-1 in singles, and sophomores Corbin Nickoloff and Bryden Smith went 0-1 in doubles.
Grove City finished 7-6 overall and went 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio to place fifth behind tri-champions Gahanna, Central and Pickerington North (4-1) and Lancaster (2-3) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (0-5).
Sophomore Tyler Faulk also is eligible to return.