Many athletes walk into the throwing area of the state track and field meet and become nervous because they're not used to competing in front of so many fans.

That wasn't the case for Jeremiah Burton. The Westerville North High School junior said he was energized by the electricity of the crowd and the top-flight competition June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.

Burton failed to finish in the top nine to reach the finals in the Division I boys shot put. He placed 13th (53 feet, 1/2 inch) in what he hopes only was an opening act at state.

"It's better than anywhere. There are better dudes up here," Burton said. "It was high intensity coming in here and that got me where I needed to be with 53.

"It was pretty good. I started off well and stayed consistent and did what I had to do. Unfortunately, it didn't get me in the top nine, but it was a great experience to get a feel for state in my first time."

Burton opened with his best throw and followed with a 52-11 1/2 and a 51-8 1/2.

"Jeremiah did what he was supposed to do," said coach Johnny Jackson, who completed his 13th season with the boys team. "We knew he would have a have hard time making the finals. What we wanted from him was consistency. Even though he didn't make the finals that was probably the best three throws in the opening round that he has ever had."

Burton was the boys team's only competitor at state.

"This will put a chip on my shoulder and I use that to get better every day," said Burton, a defensive lineman in football who has committed to Ohio University. "We'll keep growing from this. It's a great milestone."

In the regional May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North, Burton finished third in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 53-10 and the 400-meter relay of junior Noah Gilbert, sophomore Mamady Kaba and seniors Carter Hudnell and Dorian Reynolds placed eighth (44.29 seconds).

North tied for 23rd (7) behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.

In the 16-team district 1 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, Burton won the shot put (50-7 1/4) as North finished seventh (29) behind champion Pickerington Central (158).

Burton won the shot put (53-8) and was third in the discus (126-0) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet May 10 and 12. The Warriors tied Olentangy for fifth (43) behind host Orange (195.5), Westerville Central (99), Olentangy Liberty (71.5) and Westerville South (71).

Junior Ryan Cooper placed third in the 400 (51.45) and junior Rondale Smith was third in the 300 hurdles (42.07). Cooper, sophomore Brian Nganga, junior Parish Boahen and senior Dorian Reynolds were on the third-place 1,600 relay (3:29.42).

"I thought the boys did pretty well and they ended on a strong note by getting the (400 relay) to regional," Jackson said. "The boys definitely have something to build on. Hopefully with the new football coach (Bryan Johnson), we'll get some more athletes out, so that might help."

Perkins places ninth in girls shot put

Senior Phylan Perkins made the shot put finals in the Division I girls state track meet but missed the podium by one spot.

Perkins finished ninth (39-3 1/4) in her first appearance at state. Amherst Steele's Emily King was eighth (39-4 1/4).

"I think I did pretty well. I could have done better, but I made the finals," Perkins said. "I did give it my all and tried to push the ball out there as far as I could.

"I was more excited than nervous. There was good competition out here. I watched (Burton) throw first, and that helped take some of the nerves off."

Perkins' mother, Graciela Howell, competed at state as a senior at Columbus East in 1984. She finished second in the shot put (41-5 1/2) and third in the discus (129-0) in Class AA.

"They called me 'Amazing Grace' back then," Howell said. "I'm so proud of Phylan and how well she has done up here. It was amazing to watch her throw."

Jackson said Perkins had a standout season.

"Phylan didn't do what she did in district or regionals. If she would have hit that 40(-foot throw) like she has been, she would have gotten in (the finals)," said Jackson, who completed his 15th season with the girls team. "She had a good year as district champ and OCC champ and those are things she had not done before so that's a great way to end your high school career."

Perkins advanced to state by placing third (39-9 1/2) in the regional as North tied for 21st (8) behind champion Gahanna (84) as 32 teams scored.

Sophomore Jaiden Stokes also competed at regional, finishing seventh in the 200 (26.15).

In the 16-team district 1 meet, Perkins won the shot put (40-6 3/4) as North finished eighth (30) behind champion Pickerington Central (112).

The Warriors finished fifth (35) behind Central (146), Liberty (135), Orange (126) and Olentangy (61) and ahead of South (20) in the OCC-Buckeye meet.

Perkins won the shot put (meet-record 40-10 1/2) and was third in the discus (108-6), and Stokes was runner-up in the 200 (25.74). She also ran on the fourth-place 800 relay (1:46.95) with sophomore Jalyse Cornley, senior Leah Freeman and sophomore Audrey Smith.

Cornley, Smith, freshman Autymn Briggs and senior Reese Herrell comprised the fourth-place 1,600 relay (4:22.41).

Junior sprinter Riley Welsheimer, a regional qualifier last spring, missed much of the season with a stress fracture.

"The girls team did well, getting a sophomore (Stokes) to regional," Jackson said. "They have a lot to look forward to. The new soccer coach (Ricky Konkolewski) has been pushing girls to come out and with Jaiden leading the way and the throws coach (Stephanie Enarusai) doing a good job there, we should be OK."

Boys volleyball team became 'smarter'

First-year boys volleyball coach Eva Opitz was happy with her team's progress this spring.

After a first-round bye, the ninth-seeded Warriors lost to eighth-seeded Westerville Central 25-15, 18-25, 25-22, 27-25 in a Division I East Region quarterfinal May 19 at Olentangy.

They finished 11-9 overall and placed third (6-4) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Olentangy (10-0) and Liberty (8-2) and ahead of Central (4-6), Orange (2-8) and South (0-10).

"Putting the team first was a big lesson this year for us," Opitz said. "Day one until now we continually worked on making the smarter play and taking care of the ball."

Middle hitter Deyante Johnson (first-team all-league), setter/outside hitter Pierce Monnin (honorable mention all-region, first-team all-league) and outside hitter Zach Richards (honorable mention all-league) led the senior class.

"The eight seniors meant a lot," Opitz said. "Pierce Monnin is a big loss. He adds so much to the game. Overall the group had a good season and grew a lot in skill and character."

Expected to return are juniors Amrit Adhikari (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Nick Thompson (middle hitter), sophomore Austin Bealer (defensive specialist/outside hitter) and freshman Collin Cook (middle hitter).

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