In each of the first two seasons under coach Matt Suttle, the Dublin Scioto High School girls track and field team has had to settle for being a Division I district runner-up.

In each of the first two seasons under coach Matt Suttle, the Dublin Scioto High School girls track and field team has had to settle for being a Division I district runner-up.

The Irish finished second (118 points) in the district 4 meet last season behind New Albany (120). In 2009, they finished second (103) to New Albany (108.5) in the district 1 meet.

Scioto has its sights set on winning that elusive district title this season.

"We have come a long way from year one through (year) three and the year before I took over," said Suttle, whose team opens Saturday, April 2, at Hilliard Davidson's Wildcat Premier. "It's turned into one of the more solid programs in the area. We're happy with the way it's going the last few years. We're hoping to take it one step further this year."

Among the key returnees for the Irish is senior sprinter Rachel Christian, who was the team's lone state qualifier last season. She placed seventh in the 100 meters (12.31 seconds) and 14th in the 200 (26.2) at state last spring.

Christian scored two points at state, allowing Scioto to tie four other teams for 61st behind champion Reynoldsburg (56).

"Rachel is much more confident this year and the girls are kind of feeding off her a little bit," Suttle said.

Returnees who won district titles last season are Christian in the 100 (12.28) and junior Sakiko Minagawa in the 3,200 (11:36.22). Minagawa's twin sister, Minori, placed second at district in the 3,200 (11:36.57).

Other key returnees include senior Olivia Price (hurdles), juniors Camaria Cannon (sprints/sprint relays), Lindsay Keeran (distance) and Kamil Muse (middle distance) and sophomores Jessica Cronau (distance) and Katie Kollins (throws).

Scioto scored 30.42 points at regional last year to finish seventh behind champion Reynoldsburg (95).

The Irish scored 158 points to win the OCC-Cardinal Division meet, finishing ahead of Westerville Central (118.5), Olentangy (79), Westerville South (71), Olentangy Liberty (68.5), Westerville North (66), Marysville (60) and Dublin Jerome (41).

"Winning the conference title is a goal for everybody," Suttle said. "This year finishing second at district is not an option. We've done that twice now, so we kind of want to win the district title. To make a push to finish in the top two teams at the regional meet would be good. We have several relays and several individuals that could end up at the state meet. We definitely want to push more people into the state meet this year than we did last year."

•This season has been tabbed as a "youth movement" for the boys team by 16th-year coach Kevin Foley.

"I like the potential down the road," said Foley, whose team opens with the Wildcat Premier. "We have a youth movement and it's going to be a year or two before the performance is going to equal the talent level."

Foley expects seniors Luis Carbajal (distance) and Jason Williams (middle distance) to be leaders. Carbajal missed qualifying for regional in the 3,200 by one spot last year, as he was fifth at the district 2 meet in the event (9:42.8).

Foley also expects key contributions from junior sprinter Michael Hawkins, who underwent minor knee surgery during the winter and is expected to miss the early part of the season.

"Michael is progressing very well," Foley said. "He's just not quite ready to race, but he brings the most experience back."

Foley calls sophomore Michael White, who will also compete in the sprints, the top hurdler on the team.

"He's going to be a very integral part of the relays as well," Foley said.

Senior Josh Johnson returns and should be the team's top performer in the discus and shot put.

The Irish scored 24 points at district last year to finish 10th behind champion Liberty (121). They then scored 11 points at regional to tie three other teams for 16th behind champion Gahanna (63) as 40 teams scored.

Scioto did not return any regional qualifiers.

The Irish finished seventh (41) at the OCC-Cardinal meet last year, behind Liberty (142), Central (111.5), North (104), Olentangy (91), Marysville (78) and South (54.5), and ahead of Jerome (38).

"We're just looking to improve," Foley said. "With a group this young, it's too early. We're not going to be in the mix for a league title, not with the talent in this conference. The long-term goal is always to finish as high as we can in the league and to advance as many athletes as we can.

"This is a high quality league with state and national impact performers. We get to see it. The bar is high and that's motivation."