Lauren Whitt took her first step toward making a third consecutive state meet for the Ready High School girls track and field team when she opened the Division III postseason by winning a district title in the 400 meters.
The junior, who was fourth at state last year in the 400, also had plenty of company from her teammates in the regional meet held May 23 and 25 at Fairfield Union.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to the state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
In the district 2 meet, which concluded May 19 at Watkins Memorial, the Silver Knights scored 78 points to place third of 13 teams behind Mount Gilead (164) and Columbus Academy (114).
Whitt finished first in the 400 (59.94 seconds), was runner-up in the 100 (13.09) and ran on the second-place 1,600 relay (4:16.23) with Lindsey Bair, Brigitte Bowman and Atenman Maker.
Derricka Bramwell also won a district title, finishing first in the shot put (36 feet, 5 inches).
Also qualifying for regional were Bowman in the 300 hurdles (third, 52.22), Maker in the long jump (third, 16-3/4), Bair in the 800 (second, 2:28.65) and Allison Poe in the discus (third, 92-2).
Coming up one spot short of advancing by placing fifth were Jenna Winslow in the 100 (13.61) and the 3,200 relay of Bair, Maker, Isabella Marsh and Katelyn Paul (10:54.49).
McElroy leads boys team into regional
Advancing to regional in three events, Shelrick McElroy helped the boys track team finish seventh (38) of 12 teams in the district 2 meet behind champion Mount Gilead (154).
McElroy was third in the 100 (11.22), third in the 200 (22.63) and ran on the fourth-place 400 relay (46.12) with Austin Aiello, Jack Foley and John Riewe.
Last season, Foley advanced to regional in the 400 and Ready advanced in both the 800 and 1,600 relays but didn't have any state qualifiers.
Finishing fifth in district 2, one spot short of advancing to regional, were Matt Frye in the shot put (41-3 1/2), the 800 relay of Aiello, Foley, McElroy and Riewe (1:36.09) and the 1,600 relay of Grant Cordle, Evan Cordle, Foley and Riewe (3:46.27).
Softball team falls in district final
The softball team views its latest appearance in a Division III district championship game as a learning experience.
In a rematch of a district final it won 3-2 last season, the fourth-seeded Knights lost to top-seeded North Union 11-1 on May 18 at Pickerington Central.
Ready was limited to three hits, with one being a solo home run by sophomore Ashlyn Muraco (OF/1B).
"We just didn't play our game, we didn't hit our game, we didn't pitch our game," coach Jen Goff said. "We just struggled. (North Union pitcher Madison Wedding) kept you guessing, moving the ball in and out. We had effective at-bats, it was just when we were looking outside, we'd hit a weak grounder. It was an off day."
Ready, which was a regional runner-up last season despite being the 11th seed for the district tournament, finished 15-10 overall and won its first CCL title since 2009. The Knights went 5-1 in the league to finish ahead of Watterson (4-2), DeSales (2-4) and Hartley (1-5).
The Knights opened the postseason with an 8-4 victory May 10 at home against 10th-seeded Northridge and then beat seventh-seeded West Jefferson 8-2 on May 16 in a district semifinal at Pickerington North.
Against West Jefferson, Ready scored three times in the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. Then in the fifth, freshman Katie Gallagher (CF) hit a solo home run and Muraco added a two-run homer during a four-run inning.
Junior Skylar Lafferty pitched a complete game, scattering eight hits and striking out two.
Ready loses three seniors in Dani Hall (SS), Nikki Hawkins (2B) and Shelby Tracy (C/3B). Hall is expected to attend Cincinnati, where she might play for the club team, while Hawkins has committed to Wittenberg and Tracy will play for Belmont Abbey.
Hall batted .488 with 12 RBI and a team-best 33 runs. Hawkins had one home run and 12 RBI while batting .333 and Tracy had two home runs and 19 RBI while batting .309.
Junior CeCe Phillips (1B/P), sophomores Hannah Bryan (3B/C) and Kiley Gallagher (LF) and freshman Sarah Ranke (OF) were other key contributors.
Bryan finished with nine home runs and 43 RBI and batted .438, and Muraco hit .414 with five homers and 18 RBI. Kiley Gallagher had five homers and 27 RBI and hit .365, Katie Gallagher hit .339 and Ranke batted .333 with 12 runs scored.
Phillips batted .293 with two home runs and 12 RBI and was 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 33 innings.
Lafferty went 13-8 with 101 strikeouts in 125 1/3 innings and batted .355.
Others eligible to return include junior Addison Gualtieri (OF), sophomore Maryann Rucker (INF) and freshmen Carissa Perez (OF), Catey Wolfe (OF) and Megan Wohrle (INF).
"The future is bright," Goff said. "We learned a lot. The best thing about getting (to a district final) two times in a row is that you know what to do to get better, and obviously we'll fix the things we can fix."