A strong season for the Grove City High School track and field program concluded with senior R.J. Lewis competing in the 400 meters in the Division I boys regional meet May 23 at Pickerington North.
Lewis finished 15th in the preliminaries in 53.14 seconds as the top eight finishers advanced to the final. The top four finishers in each event May 25 qualified for state.
"R.J. had a great season even though he would have wanted to end on a better note (by) qualifying for the state meet," coach Jane Taylor said. "He was suffering from a hip flexor injury that occurred during the district 2 meet, which hindered him from running a quality race at regional."
Lewis posted personal-best times this season in the 400 (49.7) and 200 (22.1). He also was awarded the team's MVP high-point award for scoring more than 200 meet points.
The season included program records established by Morgan Lemponen in the girls pole vault (9 feet, 7 inches) and the boys 3,200 relay (8:13.62) of seniors E.J. Rondez and Evan Whitaker and juniors Jared Ellis and Adam Meister. The previous record of 8:19.6 had stood since 1993.
Whitaker said another goal this season was to eclipse the 10-minute mark in the 3,200, which he did while finishing fourth (9:53.66) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet.
"Our season went pretty well," Whitaker said. "I met my one goal for the season to break 10 (minutes) in the (3,200) and on top of that we broke the 25-year old 3,200 (relay) record, so I had a great time this season."
Whitaker will compete in cross country and track at Wilmington College.
Taylor said another highlight was both squads winning the Best of the South-West meet for the second consecutive season April 13 at Central Crossing. The boys scored 110 points to finish ahead of Central Crossing (66), Westland (46) and Franklin Heights (39), and the girls scored 121 points to finish ahead of Franklin Heights (53), Central Crossing (46) and Westland (28).
In the district 2 meet, which concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, the boys tied Northland for ninth (24) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109) as Lewis finished fourth in the 400 (personal-best 49.7) to earn a regional berth.
The girls finished 11th (12.2) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164). Lemponen was fifth in the pole vault (9-6), one spot from advancing to regional, and seniors Abby Ray and Maylene Renninger, junior Madeline Zezuto and sophomore Lindsey Donaldson were sixth in the 3,200 relay (10:10.36).
In the OCC-Ohio meet held May 9 at Lancaster and May 12 at Dublin Coffman, the boys finished sixth (33) behind Pickerington Central (166), Gahanna (108), Lancaster (94), Pickerington North (76) and Reynoldsburg (44). The girls were sixth (7) behind Gahanna (164), Lancaster (123), Central (107), North (97) and Reynoldsburg (23).