Mike Aldrink is an experienced marathoner who has competed in numerous races nationwide.

Mike Aldrink is an experienced marathoner who has competed in numerous races nationwide.

He is hoping to bring his knowledge of distance running to his new position as coach of the Dublin Jerome High School boys track and field team.

Aldrink, 34, replaces David Stroh, who stepped down as coach after last season but remains with the program as an assistant coach.

"Coach Stroh is a vital part of Dublin Jerome athletics," said Aldrink, whose team opened March 30 with a tri-meet against Grandview and Ready. "Even though he has the title of assistant this year, he is a definite mentor as well as a very hard working man that will do whatever it takes to make Dublin Jerome's track program the best it can be."

Aldrink is a 1994 graduate of Bradenton (Fla.) Christian School, where he excelled in track and field. He ran his first marathon at age 16 and has competed in 45 races, with a personal-best time of 2 hours, 29 minutes.

"One of my strengths is motivation by participating," Aldrink said. "If needed, I will throw on my own track spikes at a tough track workout to run alongside my athletes and motivate every second of every repeat."

Aldrink was the cross country coach at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School in Bradenton, Fla., in 2003, an assistant coach in track and field and cross country at Manatee High School in Bradenton in 2004 and '05, and cross country coach at Cresset Christian Academy in Durham, N.C., in 2006 and '07. He was the principal at Premier Academy of Ohio the past three years.

Aldrink takes over a Jerome team that appears to have depth, as there are 74 on the roster.

"I am very impressed with the work ethic of the athletes, the communication and professionalism of the parents, and the organizational skills of our athletic department at Dublin Jerome," Aldrink said.

The top returnee is junior sprinter Graham Rossi, who competed at the Division I regional last season in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing 13th in 16.05 seconds. Rossi holds the program record in the event (15.29).

Also expected to contribute are seniors Jack Beebe (throws), Andrew Geisler (throws), John Lin (distance) and Trevor Shepherd (sprints), juniors Ryan Burkholder (distance) and Ryan Piotrowski (throws), sophomores Stephen Gaber (distance) and Alex Linard (sprints/middle distance) and freshmen Jake Mandel (distance) and Chase Stewart (distance).

"The goal this year is to see the talent we currently have and then formulate a three-year plan to start producing some state contenders," Aldrink said.

Last season, Jerome finished eighth (38 points) at the OCC-Cardinal Division meet, behind Olentangy Liberty (142), Westerville Central (111.5), Westerville North (104), Olentangy (91), Marysville (78), Westerville South (54.5) and Dublin Scioto (41).

The Celtics tied Marion Franklin for 13th (18) of 15 in the district 1 meet behind champion Gahanna (120) before tying Grove City, Marysville and Whetstone for 30th (4) at regional behind champion Gahanna (63) as 40 teams scored.

Girls coach Randi Beatty likes the progress her program is making as she begins her third season.

Beatty said the program has a solid senior class and she believes it has added several freshmen who should provide depth this season.

"It looks like we're going to be strong in the distance," said Beatty, whose team also opened March 30 with the tri-meet against Grandview and Ready. "We're going to be relying on some of the younger girls in the sprints this year, but I think that they will step up."

Key returnees include seniors Ashley Aslo (distance), Carly Bauer (distance), Erin Flanagan (distance), Mary Kate Foley (middle distance/distance), Kim Temple (throws) and Audrey White (distance).

Others expected to be key contributors include juniors Amy Erdelsky (sprints) and Rebecca Rings (distance) and sophomores Brooke Boyle (distance), Aleeya Ossoli (distance) and Kaitlin Willette (distance).

Last season, Jerome had its first regional qualifiers under Beatty, as Rings was seventh in the 1,600 (5:17.69), the 3,200 relay of Boyle, Foley, Rings and Willette was seventh (9:49.04) and Erdelsky was eighth in the 400 (59.39).

Jerome scored five points at regional to tie Independence for 30th behind champion Reynoldsburg (95) as 37 teams scored. It tied Northland for ninth (25) at the 13-team district 1 meet behind champion Gahanna (132).

The Celtics finished eighth (41) at the OCC-Cardinal meet last season, behind Scioto (158), Central (118.5), Olentangy (79), South (71), Liberty (68.5), North (66) and Marysville (60).

"We ended on a really good note last year and the kids who are returning to us from last year still have that motivation and I think they're going to pick up where they left off," Beatty said. "We have a lot of potential to have a good season."