With a large returning corps from last year's Division I regional runner-up team, junior faceoff midfielder Wyatt Bartlett expected the Dublin Coffman High School boys lacrosse team to be among central Ohio's best again this spring.
That doesn't mean he would have predicted that the Shamrocks would roll through this year's regional the way they did the last two weeks.
"I saw us doing good, but I don't know (that I expected) this," Bartlett said. "No one can walk into a season and be like, 'We're headed to the final four.' It takes some work, and we've worked hard for it. It feels great."
The Shamrocks were 21-1 before facing Cleveland St. Ignatius in a state semifinal May 30 at Wooster. It represents their deepest postseason run since reaching a state semifinal in 2002.
The top seed in Region 1, Coffman beat fourth-seeded Jerome 19-6 in a regional semifinal May 22 and second-seeded Olentangy Liberty 9-5 in a regional final May 25 at Otterbein.
Cam Bowdy had three goals and three assists and Luke Holland, Nick Harris and Evan James each scored two goals against Liberty. Goalkeeper Dom Elmo stopped six of the 11 shots he faced.
"We had a lot of help on the wings on the faceoffs, and Elmo played lights out," Bartlett said. "Our defense of Zach Kasun, Steven (Strong), Sky Wayne, everyone out there was giving it their all."
The Coffman-St. Ignatius winner plays Cincinnati St. Xavier or Worthington Kilbourne in the state final at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Ohio Wesleyan. St. Xavier was 17-3 and Kilbourne was 17-5 before playing in a state semifinal May 30 at Dayton Chaminade Julienne.
Kilbourne was seeded second in Region 3 but upset top-seeded Upper Arlington 8-7 in that regional final. St. Xavier was the top seed in Region 4 and beat second-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 17-5 in its regional final.
"They're locked in and ready to go," coach Shane Comisford said. "This is great."
Girls track squad preps for state meet
A difficult few days for the girls track and field team concluded with a ninth-place finish (33 points) in the Division I regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North behind champion Gahanna (84) as 32 teams scored.
Senior Abby Steiner won her fourth consecutive regional championships in both the 100 meters (11.76 seconds) and 200 (24.02) and junior Isabelle Angerman was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (43.33).
Steiner felt her hamstring tighten during the preliminaries of the 200 and ended up scratching from the final of the 800 relay, which she led to the state title each of the past two seasons.
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
"It was a charley horse in my hamstring, so it was a very severe muscle cramp," Steiner said. "I didn't know what it was at first, but it's survive and advance, so I knew I had to finish the race and try to make it past Friday since we have a week before state."
The Shamrocks lost another member of the 800 relay, sophomore Simone Rivard-Roberts, to injury May 22.
Freshman Hallie Mitchell filled in for Rivard-Roberts to join Steiner, Angerman and senior Jennifer Schulze on the 800 relay during the preliminary race.
Steiner, however, was unable to go during the final and was replaced by sophomore Karlee North, who had just finished fifth in the pole vault (11 feet). The relay ended up placing eighth (1:46.26).
"We lost Simone so we've been dealing with that as well," Steiner said. "I don't want to let anyone down, but I wanted to make sure I was healthy. ... It's going to be weird (not running the 800 relay at state)."
Angerman, who placed eighth at state last season in the 300 hurdles, had the fourth-fastest state-qualifying time.
"I messed up my steps (during the regional final) and it was hard to adjust," Angerman said.
"I (ran a personal-best time) for the first time since district of last year, so I'm starting to peak at the right time. I want to get a little higher on the podium than last year.
"Simone is out. Abby is beat up. It's put a lot of stress on the relays. We're just happy to be here. We had to (add North to the 800 relay) right after she got fifth in the pole vault and I'm really proud of her for running it."
Also competing at regional were senior Ellie Weber in the 3,200 (ninth, 11:32.44), sophomore Lydia Ainsworth in the 800 (11th, 2:19.05), the 1,600 relay of Ainsworth, Angerman, Schulze and freshman Abigail Collier (11th, 4:07.48), the 3,200 relay of Ainsworth, Weber, senior Delaney Marsalek and freshman Abigail Scherer (12th, 10:00.09), the 400 relay of junior SeRaye Bray, Mitchell, North and Schulze (13th, 51.44), sophomore Ashley Fitzgerald in the high jump (15th, 5-2) and junior Rachel Hoadley in the pole vault (tied for 15th, 9-0).
Bons leads boys track team to state
The boys track and field will be represented in four events at the Division I state meet.
Senior Lucas Bons, who placed third at state in the 1,600 last season, finished first in the event (4:13.74) and added a third-place finish in the 800 (1:54.03) in the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
Less than one second separated the third through sixth finishers in the 800, and Bons lunged in the closing meters to earn an automatic state berth.
He debated after the 1,600 whether he'd even run the 800 because of fatigue.
"I was trying to go with 600 left (in the 1,600) and try not to get into too tight of a race," Bons said.
"It's just about getting through and being as safe as possible."
Bons also ran on the 1,600 relay with juniors Ricky Pinney and Kevin Sabath and sophomore Jameel Williamson that placed fifth (3:20.56) but earned one of the two at-large state berths.
Junior Derek Van Vlerah is headed back to state in the high jump after winning the regional title by clearing 6-6. He finished 11th at state last season but has battled a sprained left ankle and turf toe on his right foot this spring.
"I focused on keeping my speed up, and it's nice to come out and jump well," Van Vlerah said. "It's pretty nice. Last year, I got fourth (at regional), so it's nice to get first."
The Shamrocks scored 30 points to place sixth behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
Placing ninth at regional were the 800 relay of Sabath, Williamson, senior Cam Scott and sophomore Michael Ching (1:31.14), the 400 relay of Scott, Williamson, senior Keean Griffin and sophomore Takeru Yamaoka (43.82) and the 3,200 relay of Bons, seniors Ryan Bosworth and Arnaldo Gonzalez Calero and sophomore Alex Dediu (8:01.75).
Senior Kaleb Holcomb was 10th in the discus (127-9) and 15th in the shot put (42-3), and Dediu finished 11th in the 1,600 (4:36.47).
Girls lacrosse team to return large group
Girls lacrosse coach Michael Murphy was impressed with how hard his team competed this spring.
Coffman finished 13-5 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Central Division to place second, behind UA (6-0) and ahead of Gahanna (4-2), Pickerington North (3-3), Pickerington Central (2-4), Hilliard Davidson (1-5) and Marysville (0-6).
"The girls had a very good season," Murphy said. "Most of the year, the team was ranked in the top 10 for Division I schools. Our region is one of the toughest with five top-10 teams in our bracket. Four (of our) losses came down to the last five minutes of the game. ... We improved with each game and we competed until the end in every game."
The Shamrocks were the fifth seed in Division I, Region 3 and beat 14th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 16-4 in a second-round game May 14 before losing 10-6 to third-seeded Thomas Worthington in a regional quarterfinal May 17. They also lost to the Cardinals 9-8 in overtime April 3.
Coffman is losing five seniors, led by Annamarie Guth (midfielder), Riley McGraw (defender) and Megan Murphy (attacker). Guth (50 goals, 32 assists) and Murphy (28 goals, 15 assists) both made second-team all-league, while McGraw tied for second on the team in ground balls with 41 and was first-team all-league.
Senior Janelle Gans (defender) was fourth on the team in ground balls (36).
Juniors Carmen Haefke (defender), Brooke Kappeler (defender), Starsen Kinzer (goalkeeper), Delaney Murray (attacker), Lexi Piekarski (midfielder) and Renae Tonon (attacker) should be the top returnees next year.
Murray was first-team all-league, while Haefke, Kinzer and Piekarski all were second-team all-league. Kappeler was honorable mention all-league.
Murray had 51 goals and 28 assists, Piekarski had 17 goals, 12 assists and 22 caused turnovers, Haefke had 16 caused turnovers, Kinzer had 83 saves and Tonon had 23 goals and six assists.
Freshman Abigail Elliott (defender) led the team in ground balls (43) and caused 18 turnovers, while freshman Amanda Bailey (midfielder) also caused 18 turnovers.
Others eligible to return include juniors Leah Crawford (attacker), Haley McDerment (midfielder), Elizabeth Niemiec (attacker) and Brigid Phelps (defender), sophomores Ashley Crotty (defender) and Grace Kennedy (midfielder) and freshmen Addison Miller (attacker) and Mary Proctor (midfielder).
Boys volleyball team takes steps forward
Despite having just three seniors in its program, the boys volleyball team won five more matches than it did a season ago.
The Shamrocks, who were seeded 12th in the Division I East Region tournament, lost to seventh-seeded Olentangy Liberty 25-14, 25-22, 25-27, 25-22 in a second-round match May 19 to finish 12-13 overall.
"These are most of my guys' second full year playing," coach Shane Farrell said. "We're just trying to become consistent. We can do a lot of great things, but it's about doing a lot of great things over and over."
The Shamrocks went 6-6 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Pickerington North for third, behind Davidson (10-2) and Gahanna (9-3) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (0-12).
Senior Sam Malloy (libero) will be the biggest loss to graduation after making honorable mention all-league and leading the Shamrocks in digs (164). Senior Adam Sagun (outside hitter) also was a key player.
Junior Jack Proctor (setter) led the team in serving aces (58) and assists (402) and was second in digs (149). He was first-team all-league and second-team all-region.
Junior Joey Mitchell (outside hitter) led the team in kills (155) and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, while junior Aaron Forbush (outside hitter) was second in kills (146).
Juniors Tali Berzins (opposite), Cameron Burris (opposite), Sean McDerment (middle hitter) and Cole Northup (middle hitter) also were key players.
Sophomore Ian Watabe (setter) is another eligible to return.
"We've got to get over that .500 hump," Farrell said.
"We had three seniors, but most of the starters are juniors."