As Westerville South High School senior Reo Ogundare and pole vault coach Jimmy Hull headed to Ohio State for the Division I state track and field meet June 2, Ogundare was unsure how his day might go.
He was about to compete in the biggest meet of his career while battling a sore foot, so he was uncertain if he would have any success.
Ogundare ended up finishing second and establishing a program record of 15 feet, 2 inches. Jared McAllister had held the previous mark of 14-9 since 1996.
"If you would have told me I was going to go 15 feet this morning, I would have said that's not happening," Ogundare said. "Second place. I didn't even make it past district last year, I no-heighted. I can't believe I've come this far in one year. I couldn't have had a better year. ... Something clicked through all the hours of hard work that I put in this year."
McAllister, who still lives in the area, met with Ogundare during the week leading up to the state meet to study video and discuss strategy.
Centerville's Yariel Soto finished first (15-6). He also won the long jump (24-2 3/4).
Ogundare failed on his first two attempts at 14-10 before clearing the bar to secure the program record. He cleared 15-2 on his second attempt before missing on all three attempts at 15-6.
Ogundare's performance at state earned him a nomination for a spot in the Top Cats Hall of Fame.
"He's one of those kids that we're going to be able to talk about for a long time in the program," coach Jimmy Gaul said. "He's someone that if you come out, you work hard, you're coachable and you find your home somewhere and just keep working at it, he's a great example of what you can do."
Ogundare was South's only state qualifier. He scored eight points to give the boys squad a tie for 27th behind champion Pickerington Central (58) as 69 teams scored.
He will continue his athletic career at the University of Indianapolis.
"When you PR by eight inches, you've done your job," Hull said. "He started off jumping really well. I told him he just needed to meet manage for the initial heights and then put all the effort for the higher heights, but I never thought it would go 15-6."
Ogundare earned a state berth by finishing fourth (14-4) at regional May 23 at Pickerington North.
Senior George-Sedgewick Patil accounted for the team's other two points at regional, which concluded May 25, as he finished seventh in the 300-meter hurdles (39.66 seconds).
South tied for 23rd (7) behind champion Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
Ogundare led South in the district 2 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, winning the pole vault with a 14-6. Patil finished second in the 300 hurdles (39.52), and South was seventh (41) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109).
The Wildcats competed in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet May 10 and 12 at Olentangy Orange, with Patil winning the 300 hurdles (40.07) and placing second in the 110 hurdles (15.1) and high jump (6-0).
Senior Nathan Ware won the 3,200 (10:21.41), senior Anthony Parham finished first in the discus (131-11) and second in the shot put (52-1 3/4) and Ogundare was second in the pole vault (13-0).
South finished fourth (71) in the league meet behind Orange (195.5), Westerville Central (99) and Olentangy Liberty (71.5) and ahead of Westerville North (43) and Olentangy (43).
Appiah, Silva lead girls team
Sophomore Josephine Appiah and senior Kayla Silva led the girls track team in the postseason.
Appiah accounted for South's only two points at regional by finishing seventh in the high jump (5-1). The Wildcats tied for 28th behind champion Gahanna (84) as 32 teams scored.
Silva was 11th in the 100 (12.55).
In the district 2 meet, where South finished ninth (16.7) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164), Silva was third in the 100 (13.22) and Appiah placed fourth in the high jump (5-2).
Another highlight was freshman Caroline Sheridan establishing a program record of 10-9 in the pole vault while finishing sixth at district. Beth Tompkins had held the previous mark of 10-3 since 2001.
Silva will continue her track career at Ohio Northern.
In the OCC-Buckeye meet, the Wildcats finished sixth (20) behind Liberty (146), Central (135), Orange (126), Olentangy (61) and North (20).
"We had higher expectations and higher hopes for where we'd be at the end of the year, but injuries and things happen in athletics," Gaul said of the boys and girls. "They're great kids. They worked really hard and they stepped up and gave their best efforts on the biggest meet days."