Leah Moody, a senior for the Upper Arlington High School girls track and field team, would much rather spend her spring with a baton in her hand than a basketball.

Leah Moody, a senior for the Upper Arlington High School girls track and field team, would much rather spend her spring with a baton in her hand than a basketball.

Earlier this spring, she rolled her ankle while playing in a pickup basketball game and spent three weeks recovering from a sprained ankle.

Moody made an impact in the Division I, district 3 meet that concluded May 21 at Hilliard Bradley, as she anchored the 3,200-meter relay of senior Julia Melvin, freshman Dorry Jaffe and junior Olivia Menden to a first-place finish in 9 minutes, 36.73 seconds.

"I was so mad at myself," Moody said. "(How the injury occurred) didn't go over so well with my coach or the rest of my team. It was so frustrating. I can't even begin to explain it."

The top four finishers in each district event at advanced to the regional, which began May 25 and concludes Friday, May 27, at Pickerington North. The top four in each regional event advance to the state meet June 3-4 at Ohio State.

Coach Dale Hartney, who trains the distance runners, said the relay has a different feel when Moody is a part of it. The past three weeks, the relay has dropped about 22 seconds, including a three-second drop in the OCC-Central Division meet on May 12.

"I've run (the 3,200 relay) all four years and it's definitely my favorite event," Moody said. "The 800 (splits) are tough because it's a mixture between a distance race and a sprint. It's a fun race to run."

The 3,200 relay has become a signature event for the girls team. Since 2003, the Golden Bears have sent the relay to state five times, winning the title in 2004.

"I can't think of a time when we didn't get the 3,200 relay onto the regional meet," said Hartney, who is in his 22nd year coaching the Bears.

"I just have a lot of people who can run the 800. It just works out for us."

Moody and Menden helped the relay place 11th at state the past two years, including last year when they teamed with Bethany Yunker and Sarah Hobbs (9:34.1).

"Leah has been the leadoff (runner in the relay) in the state meet the last two years," Hartley said. "She is an experienced veteran and we need that. It's always good to have been there because you're not over-awed by anything."

While neither Yunker, who has a leg injury, nor Hobbs, who chose not to compete in track this spring, are on the relay, Hartney is pleased with the way Melvin and Jaffe have stepped into their roles.

"Getting Leah back definitely helps us, but Julia is running better than she has ever run in her entire career," Hartney said. "Dorry has just gotten better every time she runs. Olivia is, well, just Olivia."

The 3,200 relay's finish at district was one of three first-place finishes for the girls team, which scored 78 points to finish fourth behind Dublin Scioto (139), Reynoldsburg (116) and Lancaster (91). Menden won the 1,600 (5:23.79) and 800 (2:22.55).

•The boys team finished seventh (45.5) in the district 3 meet, behind champion Dublin Coffman (116.5).

Frank Epitropoulos placed second in the long jump (21 feet, 5 1/2 inches) behind Big Walnut's Tyler Fifer (21-9) and was fourth in 400 (51.09).

Last year, Epitropoulos finished ninth at regional in the event with a jump of 20-3 1/2.

Also advancing to regional was Ben Kompa, who placed fourth in the discus (138-5).