The Westerville North High School boys and girls track and field teams will be well-represented in the shot put in the Division I state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
Senior Phylan Perkins and junior Jeremiah Burton will be making their first appearance at state after both placed third in the regional that concluded May 25 at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to state. Also, for the first time, two at-large state berths were awarded for each running event based on times statewide.
Both will throw on the second day at state, with Burton competing at noon and Perkins at 3 p.m. Before regional, the two won the event in both the district 1 and OCC-Buckeye Division meets.
"It's great that both of us could make it," Burton said. "There are going to be a lot of great dudes there. It's my first year going so I want to see what they have in store over there (at state)."
Burton had a personal-best throw of 53 feet, 10 inches as the boys tied Marysville and Westerville South for 23rd (7 points) behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
"I got my best throw in early (with my second throw) and after that I just stayed up there," he said. "At state, I have to stay within myself, control what I can and just be me. I need to see (the state throwing area) and get used to it and give it all I got."
Perkins threw a 39-9 1/2 as the girls tied Centennial and Marietta for 21st (8) behind champion Gahanna (84) as 32 teams scored.
"It was a big accomplishment for me," said Perkins, who also finished 15th in the discus (92-11). "There was a lot of good competition and a lot of pressure to go along with it. The discus didn't go the way I would have liked, but it was good to have that experience."
Perkins hopes she can handle the added pressure that comes with competing at state.
"I've never been to a state meet so it's very exciting," she said. "I handled the pressure at regional, but I'm not sure how I will handle it at state.
"I think I'm throwing pretty well, but I know that I can do much better. I definitely would like to finish in the top eight so I can get on the podium."
Jaiden Stokes also competed at regional, finishing seventh in the 200 meters (26.15 seconds).
"This is the furthest I have ever made it and I'm a sophomore, so hopefully I can make it further next year," said Stokes, whose 25.72 in the 200 preliminary was a personal best. "These girls are so fast. I honestly tried just to keep up with everyone."
The boys 400 relay of Noah Gilbert, Mamady Kaba, Carter Hudnell and Dorian Reynolds placed eighth (44.29).
Girls lacrosse team understands teamwork
The girls lacrosse team learned to play as a unit and recorded four more wins than last season.
The ninth-seeded Warriors lost at top-seeded New Albany 17-2 on May 18 in the second round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament to finish 8-11 overall. Last season, they were 4-15.
"The girls learned how to play as a team rather than individuals out on the field," said first-year coach Joe Heighway, whose team defeated 14th-seeded South 15-4 on May 14 at home in the first round.
"I could see the team chemistry improving from week to week, which made us much more competitive as the season progressed."
North finished fifth (3-4) in the OCC-Buckeye behind New Albany (7-0), Olentangy Liberty (6-1), Olentangy (5-2) and Olentangy Orange (4-3) and ahead of Westerville Central (2-5), Big Walnut (1-6) and South (0-7).
The Warriors had three seniors in goalkeeper Reese Burke (125 saves), defender Sydney Chafin (29 ground balls) and attacker Emily Garee (26 goals, 9 assists).
"Although a small group, the seniors provided the necessary leadership our team needed," Heighway said. "Two of our seniors, Emily Garee and Sydney Chafin, were captains and quickly took on leading the team both on and off the field."
North expects to return its top two scorers in junior midfielder Grace Heighway (honorable mention all-league) and sophomore attacker Paige Miller. Grace Heighway, the coach's daughter, had 48 goals, 18 assists and 90 ground balls, and Miller had 44 goals and 26 assists.
Juniors Kait Boso (midfielder; 16 goals, 2 assists) and Alexis Bowsher (attacker; 13 goals, 3 assists) and sophomore midfielder Noel Orioli (17 goals, 1 assist) are other top scorers expected back.
Juniors Jenna Morgan and Kate Smith and sophomore Courtney Hornyak are top defenders expected to return.
Boys lacrosse team to lose 12 seniors
The bulk of the lineup for the boys lacrosse team came from its 12-player senior class.
The ninth-seeded Warriors lost at eighth-seeded Thomas Worthington 17-9 on May 15 in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament to finish 8-11 overall. They were sixth (2-5) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Olentangy (7-0), New Albany (6-1), Liberty (5-2), Orange (4-3) and Central (3-4) and ahead of South (1-6) and Big Walnut (0-7).
The Warriors were led by seniors Drew Iarussi (defen-der; honorable mention all-region), Kendrick Rodgers (midfielder; honorable mention all-region and all-league) and Zach Whaley (defender; second-team all-region and all-league).
Rounding out the senior class were Caden Culver (attacker), Kyle Dopp (defen-der), Richard Du (goalie), Philip Elliott (goalie), Stanten Fleming (midfielder), Luke Fuller (attacker), Jack Larimer (defender), Jacob Rodgers (midfielder) and Ben Watson (defender).
Key performers expected back include juniors Trent Bobo (midfielder), Caden Crist (midfielder) and Will Olson (midfielder) and freshman Ian Evans (attacker).