Holly Nation entered this week thinking less about her successful season in the high jump than the fact that she's never advanced to the Division I regional meet in a running event.
The Olentangy High School girls track and field team's senior high jumper and sprinter is eager to finish her prep career on a high note before she heads to the University of Toledo.
Nation entered the week third in the area in the high jump with a mark of 5 feet, 5 inches, making her a prime candidate to advance beyond this week's district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby. She has run 1 minute, .23 of a second in the 400 meters and 2:28.7 in the 800.
"High jump is definitely my favorite event. It's the thing I enjoy most about track," Nation said. "It doesn't involve as much running. I just think it's a lot more fun.
"During the indoor season, my running was heading where it was supposed to be but now outdoor, a few of my races have not been what I've been expecting at all. I just need to go a lot harder to hit my goals."
Nation was among the Braves' top performers in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet that concluded May 12 at Orange. She won the high jump (5-4) and was fifth in the 400 (1:00.87) to help Olentangy score 61 points and finish fourth behind Liberty (146), Westerville Central (135) and Orange (126) and ahead of Westerville North (35) and Westerville South (20).
Siobhan Szerencsits was first (13-0) and Stephanie Miller placed second (10-0) in the pole vault.
In the indoor state meet in March, Nation tied for 10th in the high jump (5-0) and was 12th in the 400 (1:00.25).
"(Nation) spent a lot of time conditioning over the winter so she got really strong. She's been able to run a lot for us as she's gotten stronger and better overall," coach Jen Sosa said. "She is far and away our top scorer because she is so versatile."
Cullen Sainey's runner-up finish in the 3,200 (10:29.15) led the boys team to 43 points and a tie for fifth place with North behind Orange (195.5), Central (99), Liberty (71.5) and South (71).
Luke Murdock was third in the high jump (5-10), and the 400 relay (43.99) and 800 relay (1:31.39) both finished third.
"We did what we thought (we would), although we had a few kids sick," boys coach Ken Whalen said, referring to 400 runner Jeremy Kendle, among others. "We only have so many guys who can score points. We aren't as deep as some of these other teams. Overall, things went well. We can always do better, but I was very pleased with the sprint medley teams. To get third in this division is special."
The district meet began May 15 with field events, followed the next day by preliminaries for running events. Running finals will be Saturday, May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North.
Softball team captures big wins
The softball team gutted out a Division I district tournament victory and won the outright OCC-Buckeye championship on consecutive days last week. It carried that good fortune into this week by knocking off seventh-seeded Hilliard Bradley 3-2 in a district semifinal May 14 at Olentangy.
The 13th-seeded Braves edged visiting and 21st-seeded Upper Arlington 8-7 in eight innings May 9. Kirsten Kracht led off the inning with a single and scored on an errant throw on Emily Gernert's sacrifice bunt.
Morgan Cox's two-run home run in the sixth tied the game after UA's Olivia Carlton hit a grand slam in the top of the inning to give the Golden Bears a 7-5 lead.
Olentangy defeated North 9-1 in both teams' league finale May 10. Cox had three of the Braves' 13 hits.
Against Bradley, the Braves trailed 2-1 entering the seventh but Payton Cox's RBI single tied the game and Emily Bullock's RBI single gave Olentangy the lead. The Braves will play 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district final Friday, May 18, or Saturday, May 19, at Pickerington Central.
Olentangy finished 8-2 in the league and is 17-11 overall.
"We pulled it out (against UA). The girls have shown a lot of resilience this year. They're tough," coach Alan Tharp said. "(Pitcher) Sophie (Low) has been an iron girl. She threw something like 155 pitches (May 9) and got us through. That is the kind of game we have to win (in the postseason)."
The district champion will play Gahanna or Mount Vernon in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 23, at Ohio State.
The regional final is May 26 at Ohio State.
Of those teams, the Braves lost to Mount Vernon 3-0 on April 21.
Baseball team remains hot
Time has allowed the baseball team to take stock of what it learned during a five-game losing streak in late April, and coach Ryan Lucas won't argue with what followed.
Olentangy was 9-1 in its previous 10 games before playing second-seeded Darby in a Division I district final May 16. The ninth-seeded Braves defeated 19th-seeded Pickerington North 4-2 in a semifinal May 14 at Darby.
Olentangy's eight-game winning streak came to an end May 11 with a 10-0 loss to Liberty that dropped the Braves' final OCC-Buckeye record to 11-4. Included in that streak was a come-from-behind 8-4 win over visiting and 26th-seeded Dublin Coffman in a second-round game May 9. The Braves gave up three runs in the top of the first but Logan Ketron had a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to awaken the offense, and Olentangy scored four runs in the third to pull ahead for good.
Ketron also was the winning pitcher, striking out four and allowing a walk in three innings.
The Braves were 20-9 before playing Darby.
"If we would have won that (first) Liberty game (a 6-4, 11-inning loss April 20), I think our season would be different in terms of wins and losses, but I told the guys the other day that that might have been the best thing that's ever happened to us," Lucas said. "I thought (the losing streak) made us tougher. They bought in even more."
The district champion advanced to a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
Boys tennis team's Brdicka wins sectional
Stu Brdicka of the boys tennis team began his final postseason in style, going 5-0 in a Division I sectional tournament that concluded May 12 at Reynoldsburg to place first and advance to district Thursday, May 17, at Bradley and Saturday, May 19, at Upper Arlington.
Brdicka will be joined at district by the doubles team of Alex Konstan and Sam Routzahn, who went 3-1 and placed third.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced.
All were seeded second at sectional.
Also competing but failing to advance were singles players Roshan Sriram (1-1) and Ayush Sunkad (1-1) and the doubles team of Jayanth Donthireddy and Tucker Strawser (0-1).
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Boys volleyball team looks to tourney
The boys volleyball team's successful regular season was rewarded May 14 when it earned the second seed in the 20-team Division I East Region tournament draw.
Olentangy took a first-round bye and will play host to 16th-seeded Bradley or 19th-seeded New Albany on Saturday, May 19.
The winner will play eighth-seeded Westerville Central or ninth-seeded Westerville North in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 22, at Olentangy.
The regional final is May 25 at Central.
The Braves, who were 19-4 before finishing their regular season May 15 with the OCC Challenge at Darby, defeated Central 25-17, 25-9, 25-9 on April 10 and 25-10, 25-20, 25-18 on April 26 and North 25-14, 25-16, 25-17 on April 5 and 25-10, 25-11, 25-21 on April 24.
Boys lacrosse team wins in MSLCA tourney
The boys lacrosse team finished its regular season on a high note last weekend, winning the B bracket championship of the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament at Fortress Obetz before opening the Division I, Region 1 tournament at home.
Olentangy defeated Mason 16-7 on May 11 and Worthington Kilbourne 12-9 on May 12 to improve to 14-3 before playing host to 10th-seeded Strongsville in a first-round game May 15.
The Braves were seeded third of 16 teams in the region.
The winner visits fifth-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne or ninth-seeded Perrysburg for a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 18.
That winner visits second-seeded Liberty, seventh-seeded Medina, eighth-seeded Orange or 13th-seeded Dublin Scioto for a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 22.
The regional final will be May 25 at a neutral site.
Of those teams, Olentangy defeated Orange 13-4 on April 12 and Liberty 12-11 on May 1 to capture the outright OCC-Buckeye championship.
Girls lacrosse team opens tourney at home
The girls lacrosse team improved to 13-6 with a 23-12 win over visiting and 11th-seeded Delaware on May 14 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament.
Third-seeded Olentangy, which finished the regular season with a 20-5 home win over Pickerington Central on May 10, will play host to fourth-seeded Medina in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 18. That winner will visit second-seeded Liberty or fifth-seeded Orange for a regional semifinal Monday, May 21.
The regional final will be May 24 at a neutral site.
Of those teams, Olentangy beat Orange 21-10 two nights later and lost to Liberty 19-18 on May 1.