Moments after competing in the 400 meters in the Division I, district 2 meet May 19 at Hilliard Darby, R.J. Lewis of the Grove City High School boys track and field team was surprised by his performance.
Lewis turned in a personal-best effort of 49.7 seconds to finish fourth and advance to regional.
"I was just trying to qualify," he said. "I wasn't expecting my (personal best), but thank God it happened. I was not expecting this at all. ... I believe I can do it again."
Lewis competed in his first individual event at regional when he ran in the 400 preliminaries May 23 at Pickerington North. The meet concludes Friday, May 25, and the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
Lewis, who is the program's lone regional qualifier, ran on the 12th-place 800 relay (1:31.51) last season at regional.
"He did real well," coach Jane Taylor said. "His main goal was to get below 50 (seconds) in the 400. He was a little nervous because he came off of (51.11 in the preliminary May 16), his quad was hurting (and) he had a hip flexor. He ended up doing what he wanted to do, breaking 50 and qualifying in the top four."
Lewis missed earning a regional berth in the 200 by one spot, finishing fifth in 22.79. Adam Meister, Evan Whitaker, Jared Ellis and E.J. Rondez also just missed advancing in the 3,200 relay by finishing fifth, although they established a program record of 8:13.62.
Meister was fifth in the 800 (personal-best 1:57.81), Meister, Nate White, Jacob Kifer and Kingston McKinstry were sixth in the 800 relay (1:32.89), McKinstry was seventh in the 100 (11.79) and Luke Capehart was seventh in the long jump (20 feet, 1/2 inch).
Grove City tied Northland for ninth (24 points) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109).
Morgan Lemponen led the girls team in district 2, finishing fifth in the pole vault (9-6).
Abby Ray, Madeline Zezuto, Maylene Renninger and Lindsey Donaldson were sixth in the 3,200 relay (10:10.36), Ellie Norbut was seventh in the 300 hurdles (47.46), Donaldson was eighth in the 800 (2:26.15), Norbut, Olivia Norbut, Jenna Slabaugh and Brooke Armbrust were eighth in the 800 relay (1:51.78) and Donaldson, Ray, Slabaugh and Ellie Norbut were eighth in the 1,600 relay (4:24.94).
The Greyhounds finished 11th (12.2) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164).
Baseball team closes season
Baseball coach Ryan Alexander said an inconsistent offense contributed to the Greyhounds failing to achieve their goals.
Grove City hit .324 as a team and .312 with runners in scoring position, but just .108 as a team in a program-record six shutouts.
"Our goals at Grove City never change. District championship No. 1, No. 2 is OCC championship and No. 3 is a 20-win season," Alexander said. "We didn't get any of those this year. We were really close in a lot of them."
The third-seeded Greyhounds finished 18-9 overall with a 1-0 loss to 16th-seeded Marysville in a Division I district semifinal May 16 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
After a first-round bye, Grove City defeated 36th-seeded Delaware 8-3 in the second round May 9 at home.
The Greyhounds lose 12 seniors, including Ohio State recruit Nick Erwin (SS/P), who batted .342 with 18 RBI and 17 runs scored. He was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Ohio Division.
Senior Brian Lee (C) hit .323 and was first-team all-district and special mention all-league.
Senior Travis Engard (P/INF) was second-team all-district and all-league, senior Jackson Koethke (OF) hit .324 and was second-team all-league, sophomore Jacob Burris (OF) hit .347 and was honorable mention all-district and senior Nick Ankrum (OF) hit .385 and was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Garrett Hardy (3B/1B/DH) batted .316 and junior D.J. Neff (INF) hit .310.
Engard was 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA, 25 strikeouts and nine walks in 46 innings, and senior Travis Burson was 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA, 15 strikeouts and nine walks in 18 2/3 innings.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Luke Barnhart (OF), Jacob Boyd (P), Tyler Ebert (P/INF), Connor Goss (INF/P), Aaron Marshall (P) and Reese Wolfinger (OF) and sophomores Colby Gulick (C), Brayden Skibinski (P) and Gavin Wolf (P).
"It was an absolute blast of a group to coach," Alexander said. "There were some amazing seniors and I'm definitely going to miss those guys. Our captains (Burson, Engard, Erwin and Brennan Meisler) were amazing this year. They did a great job holding the team together and continued to rally around the good things that were going on."
The Greyhounds went 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Pickerington North for third, behind co-champions Lancaster and Pickerington Central (10-5) and ahead of Gahanna (8-7) and Reynoldsburg (0-15).