The numbers again look good for the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls track and field team heading into the Division I state meet.
With 10 participants and 10 events in which they could have scored last June, the Lions wound up with 51 points and a runner-up finish. In 2016, they had 12 participants in 10 events and ended up with 53 points and a second-place finish.
Gahanna again has 12 athletes going to the state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State, including six who did not represent the team there last season.
There were even four freshmen who played key roles as the Lions scored 84 points May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North to win their fourth consecutive regional title.
With so many talented competitors, earning a team trophy at state remains the goal.
"It's been a fun journey," sophomore Shaina Rutledge said. "I'm very excited to be going to state."
The heart of Gahanna's program has been its depth, and for the fourth consecutive year the Lions advanced all four of their relays to state.
The 3,200-meter relay of seniors Allison Groves and Claire Steigerwald and juniors Shynae Deas and Madison Martinez won the regional title in a regional-record 9 minutes, 1.23 seconds.
The 1,600 relay of Deas, Groves, Martinez and sophomore Alexis Thigpen also captured a title (3:49.3), and the 800 relay of senior Amariah Thomas, freshman Joi Bradley, Rutledge and Thigpen placed third (1:41.41).
The 400 relay of Bradley, Rutledge, sophomore Trinity Houpe and freshman Nya Bailey finished fifth (48.68) at regional but earned one of the two at-large state berths in the event.
Martinez also won the 800 in a season-best 2:09.51, and Deas also advanced in the 800 by placing third (2:11.0).
"I felt pretty strong," Martinez said. "I was very confident in my race plan and just went for it. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do (at state)."
Earning regional runner-up finishes were freshmen Ciarra Carter in the long jump (17 feet, 6 3/4 inches) and Faith Hunter in the high jump (5-6) and Steigerwald in the 3,200 (10:46.93).
Thomas added a fourth-place finish in the 100 (12.41).
"It was a pretty tight race but I definitely have another chance at it so it's exciting," Thomas said. "We definitely push each other and are always racing against the clock."
Earning at-large state berths were Houpe in the 300 hurdles (fifth, 44.8) and Thigpen in the 400 (sixth, 57.23).
In the shot put, sophomore Lacey Stringer was seventh (36-8 1/4) and Brooke Johnson was ninth (35-5 3/4). Bronte Johnson was sixth in the discus (117-6), and Rutledge was ninth in the 100 (12.5).
Boys track team preps for state
The boys track team is heading to the Division I state meet in five events.
At regional, junior LaCarr Trent won the 100 (10.71) and 200 (21.52) and ran on the first-place 400 relay (41.92) with senior Joseph Gathuru and juniors Alex Drenski and Lee Bennett.
Trent is hoping to approach his personal-best time of 10.62 in the 100 at state.
"I like both (the 100 and 200) but I feel more confident in my 100," Trent said. "I probably should have stayed lower longer running into the wind (in the 100 at regional) but I'm still happy with it."
The 800 relay of Gathuru and juniors Jayden Hill, Bennett and Drenski was third (1:27.79).
Also advancing was sophomore A'Che Sanchez-Baccus, who was fourth in the shot put (53-8).
Gahanna placed third (48) behind Pickerington Central (97) and Olentangy Orange (60.5) as 41 teams scored. The Lions did not have senior Jerome Buckner, who was a district champion in the 200 but was out with an injury.
Placing but not advancing to state were junior Kelly Wilson in the 110 hurdles (fifth, 14.58) and the 1,600 relay of senior Davion Bryan, Drenski, Gathuru and Hill (sixth (3:21.51).
Also competing were Wilson in the 300 hurdles (ninth, 39.64), senior Cameron Riddle in the shot put (11th, 48-3 3/4) and the 3,200 relay of senior Tyler Story, sophomores Riley Jackson and Caleb Shovlin and freshman Donovan Hight (11th, 8:14.1).
Softball season ends in regional semi
The softball team's season ended May 23 with a 5-4 loss to Olentangy in a Division I regional semifinal at Ohio State.
After taking a 1-0 lead on a home run by senior Addie Kittel in the third inning, Olentangy tied it in the fourth but the Lions answered with three runs in the fifth. Sophomore Caroline Heller had an RBI single and junior Ale Nye added a two-run single.
The Braves scored twice in the fifth, tied it in the sixth and scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Gahanna, which has won six consecutive district titles and was a state semifinalist in 2017, finished 20-9 overall.
"I had us for seven errors," coach Jim Campolo said. "You won't win many games playing defense that way. In the first three innings, we left eight base runners on. We had a chance to blow it open early and didn't. We left them believing that they could beat us, and that's pretty much what happened."
The Lions lose Kittel (P/1B) and Gracey Day (3B) to graduation.
Kittel batted .610, finished with program records of 22 home runs and 65 RBI and was first-team all-state, all-district and all-league. A Lehigh commit, she also went 12-5 in the circle.
Day batted .380 with 34 RBI and was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior Molly Troutman (SS), who hit .520 with seven home runs and 32 RBI, was first-team all-district and all-league and honorable mention all-state.
Junior Lauren Ringhiser (P/CF) was 8-3 and hit .420 with six home runs and 42 RBI. She was second-team all-league.
Heller (C/designated player) hit .390 with 21 RBI and was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return include juniors Prue Crusie (C/INF), Samantha Lindsey (1B), Alaina Marcum (C) and Ashley Waters (2B), sophomores Ericka Harmon (OF) and Sydney Neville (courtesy runner) and freshmen Kelsey Cripe (LF) and Danielle Shoulders (1B/INF). Neville scored 22 runs.
The Lions tied Grove City for third (5-5) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Lancaster (8-2) and Pickerington Central (7-3) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (4-6) and Pickerington North (1-9).
"If you'd asked people at the beginning of the year, including me, whether we'd win 20 games, I'd have said no," Campolo said. "We usually play well in the district. ... The tough thing this year was losing three of my coaches (before the season)."
Volleyball season ends in regional semi
The boys volleyball team had its season end with a 25-20, 25-21, 25-22 loss to seventh-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a Division I East Region semifinal May 22 at Olentangy.
The sixth-seeded Lions, who opened the tournament by beating 15th-seeded Pickerington Central 23-25, 25-16, 25-12, 26-24 on May 19 at Olentangy, finished 15-10 overall.
"(Liberty) played better than we did," coach Mike Sage said. "That's the hard pill to swallow. We didn't play well and I don't know if we made them beat us. That's a good team, but we had a scouting report and game plan and we just didn't execute it."
Gahanna earned a runner-up finish in the OCC-Ohio at 9-3, behind Hilliard Davidson (10-2) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (6-6), Pickerington North (6-6), Upper Arlington (6-6), Pickerington Central (5-7) and Reynoldsburg (0-12).
The Lions lose a six-member senior class that was led by outside hitter Russell Burke, who was league Player of the Year and first-team all-region. He holds the program records for kills, digs, attacks and serving aces and has committed to Wittenberg.
Senior Matthew Scurlock (middle hitter) was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, and senior Derek Salley (outside hitter) was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Mason Milan (right-side hitter) was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region. Junior Logan McDonald (libero) was special mention all-league.
Also among those eligible to return are juniors Kirk Klamfoth (middle hitter) and Adam Chandoul (setter) and freshman Logan Burrell (setter).
"You can't take anything away from those six seniors," Sage said. "We expect to be one of the top four teams in the region. We had six great seniors that did everything I asked of them and really kind of showed a way for the underclassmen. We have a nice corps that's coming back, though."
Baseball team will return strong nucleus
Although it had 11 seniors, the baseball team should head into next season in good position in terms of experience.
The Lions played all season without senior pitcher Jonathon Novinec, an Ohio Dominican commit who was out with an injury, and had several underclassmen filling key roles.
After receiving the 20th seed for the Division I district tournament, Gahanna beat 44th-seeded Walnut Ridge 17-0 on May 7 and upset 12th-seeded Watkins Memorial 8-0 on May 9 before falling to fifth-seeded Upper Arlington 8-7 on May 16 in a district semifinal at Marysville to finish 15-11 overall.
"Because of some injuries we had some younger guys that played a lot," coach Mike Shade said. "We've got some kids coming up that hopefully are promising."
The Lions finished fifth (8-7) in the OCC-Ohio behind co-champions Pickerington Central and Lancaster (10-5), Grove City (8-6) and Pickerington North (8-6) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (0-15).
The biggest loss to graduation is pitcher Mitchel Megias, a Notre Dame recruit who was first-team all-district and all-league. He was 4-3 with a 2.05 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Receiving second-team all-league honors were senior Jarod White (1B) and junior Noah Laurent (SS), with sophomore Alex Streitenberger (2B/P) named special mention and senior Austin Burchfield (P) making honorable mention. Laurent also was first-team all-district while White made the second team.
Burchfield went 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 35 innings. White hit .355 with 19 RBI, Laurent batted .452 with 15 RBI and 22 runs and Streitenberger hit .354 with one home run, 14 RBI and 18 runs.
Junior Dylan Swenson and sophomore Mason Weber should be the top returning pitchers. Weber went 3-2 in 38 innings.
Junior Josh Miller (INF) had 11 RBI and sophomore Evan Wolf (OF/P) had 73 plate appearances.
Others eligible to return include juniors Danny Bossart (P/OF), Chase Coleman (C), Taylor Galbraith (OF), Jacob Hymrod (C) and Ryan McMurray (P), sophomores Luke Baker (OF), John Belli (INF), Max Bowman (INF) and Blake Reed (C) and freshman Zach Marzetz (INF/P).