Seniors Dylan Merle and Evan Zimmerman of the Groveport Madison High School boys tennis team learned that the level of play in the Division I district tournament is higher than it is at sectional.

Seniors Dylan Merle and Evan Zimmerman of the Groveport Madison High School boys tennis team learned that the level of play in the Division I district tournament is higher than it is at sectional.

The duo lost to Dublin Jerome's Frank Kao and Jared Judson 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of the district tournament May 18 at Hilliard Davidson.

"I have a certain reaction time to the ball," Merle said. "I was reacting late because the ball was coming in so much faster than what I was used to. And (Kao and Judson) have so much spin on their serve. I could barely touch it."

"I've never seen shots like that," Zimmerman said.

Merle and Zimmerman were the Cruisers' first district qualifiers since Nathan Mann in 2000. The duo needed to win two matches at district to advance to the state tournament held May 25 and 26 at Ohio State.

"It's been an exciting week," coach Doug Ewart said. "It has been neat to see how the whole Groveport school district has been so supportive. I'm real proud of them and what they've done.

"These guys played about as well as they could. I have no regrets about how they played. They didn't lose; the Jerome team beat them."

Merle and Zimmerman qualified for district by placing first in the sectional tournament May 10 and 12 at Reynoldsburg. Seeded fourth at sectional, they had a first-round bye and defeated Reynoldsburg's Isaac Khan and Zach Kahl 6-2, 6-1 in the second round and Marysville's Mitch Woodruff and Hunter Cox 6-4, 6-2 in a quarterfinal to secure a district berth. They then defeated Gahanna's Alex Gavrilov and Sam Raybuck 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 in a semifinal before beating Reynoldsburg's Sai Korada and Pope Lake 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

"It was just awesome," Zimmerman said of winning a sectional title. "Our serves were really on. That was the key for us. Our groundstrokes and volleys were really good."

Senior Brian Rosfelder fell one win shy of reaching district, as he defeated Chillicothe's Jacob Hirsch 6-1, 6-0 in the first round at sectional and beat Mount Vernon's Will Teater 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round before losing to Gahanna's Canyon Teague 6-0, 6-0 in a quarterfinal.

Also at sectional, senior Jonathan Bogner defeated Chillicothe's Noah Wright-Piekarski 7-5, 6-2 in the first round before losing to Westerville Central's Luke Buchanan 6-0, 6-0 in the second round, junior Forrest Baldwin lost to Westerville Central's Mitra Patel 6-1, 6-1 in the first round and the doubles team of freshman Jacob Bogner and sophomore Tommy Van Atta lost to Chillicothe's K.J. King and Jay Sparks 6-2, 6-1 in the first round.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles at sectional advanced to district.

Groveport went 1-6 in OCC-Ohio Division dual matches and finished the league tournament May 5 at Reynoldsburg with 16 points to place seventh, behind Pickerington North (63, 7-0), Reynoldsburg (60, 6-1), Gahanna (47, 5-2), Grove City (32, 4-3), Pickerington Central (29, 3-4) and Lancaster (18, 2-5) and ahead of Newark (3, 0-7).

The Cruisers lose four seniors in Jonathan Bogner, Merle, Rosfelder and Zimmerman, but expect to return Baldwin, Van Atta, Jacob Bogner, junior Aaron Benson and sophomore Cory Johnson.

"There's a large legacy to fill in next year," Ewart said. "We told the kids next week the season starts. Let's see what they can do."

Pinkston advances to state track meet

Karlos Pinkston of the boys track and field team qualified for the Division I state meet in the long jump by placing fourth in 21 feet, 11 1/4 inches in the regional meet May 23 at Pickerington North.

The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.

"It feels pretty good to be going to states, but I am not very happy with where I am at," said Pinkston, who has been battling a hamstring injury for the last month. "I'm just trying to push through it."

Pinkston finished behind Beechcroft's James Duncan (22-5 3/4), Columbus West's Derayle Tyus (22-2 1/2) and Canal Winchester's Antonio Whitfield (22-1 3/4).

Coach Jason Brooks decided not to risk aggravating Pinkston's injury at regional and had him sit out the final round after jumping 21-11 1/4 on his final attempt of the preliminary round.

"He literally had only jumped twice in the last month -- at district and at regionals," Brooks said. "We wanted to be cautious. We kept our fingers crossed and hoped that he would get in. He may have been able to go out there and jump 22-0. We're hoping another week off and he'll be ready to go."

"Going into the regional meet, I looked at it as either do it now or go home," Pinkston said. "I just wrapped my hamstring up and went for it. It all worked out for the best."

Also competing in the regional meet that concluded May 25 were Da'Marious Napier in the high jump, Markus Tanksley in the 100 meters, the 1,600 relay of Zack Green, Eddie Wilson, Napier and Tanksley, the 800 relay of Wilson, Green, Tanksley and Mecca Swain and the 400 relay of Keith White, Swain, Khalil Davis and Tanksley.

Competing at regional for the girls team was Ceira Cruz in the 100 hurdles.