About the only thing missing from the résumé of Licking Heights High School girls track and field standout Kayla Velasquez is a berth in the state meet.

About the only thing missing from the résumé of Licking Heights High School girls track and field standout Kayla Velasquez is a berth in the state meet.

The senior likely will find the path a little tougher to navigate given that the Hornets have moved up to Division I this spring, but a third-place finish in the weight throw in the state indoor meet March 17 at the University of Akron indicates she's capable of succeeding at the higher level. She posted a distance of 47 feet, 11 inches while trailing only Austintown-Fitch's Gabby Figueroa (state record 55-5) and Cuyahoga Falls' Erica King (53-4).

"Kayla went in (seeded) 14th (with a distance of 37-10 1/2) and ended up third," said coach Suzanne Ketcham, who began her 25th season March 24 when Licking Heights finished second (62 points) behind Northland (86) in the four-team home Hornet Relays. "That's a good start."

Ketcham, whose team also competed in the Newark Invitational on March 31 and will compete next with the boys team Tuesday, April 3, in the Thornville Sheridan Invitational, said Velasquez has received multiple college offers.

Velasquez captured discus titles last year in the MSL-Cardinal Division meet (117-10), Division II district meet (114-1) and Licking County Honor Roll Meet (school record 119-8). She placed seventh (106-7) in the regional, and she finished first (116-8) in this season's opening meet while also taking second in the shot put (32-6).

Alexis Sanidad (jumps, relays) also returns as part of a strong sophomore class also featuring Skyler Ortiz (hurdles, jumps) and Ashton Malicoate (pole vault). Sanidad, who won the long jump (14-6 1/2) in the opening meet, and Ortiz were on last year's league-winning 400-meter relay (53.33 seconds) and 800 relay (1:51.84), which also included 2011 graduate Jahni' Flood.

Sophomore Jemiah Powell also was on both relays, and classmate Dameras Whitlock was on the 400 relay. Ketcham said neither of them has been in practice yet as they honor club volleyball and basketball commitments, respectively, but she's hopeful they will be rejoining the team at some point.

The only other senior is Sabrina Herndon (distance events), who helped the girls volleyball team win the MSL-Cardinal title last fall, and the returnees also include juniors Miranda Brofft (middle distance, relays) and PyLynne Myers (distance, relays). Briana Konich, who previously played softball in the spring, is part of the distance group, too.

Ketcham said sophomore Cameron Bryant (400) could be an impact athlete if she stays healthy, and classmate Justice Stegall (jumps, sprint relays) could contribute as well. The freshmen competing in the opening meet included Angel Allen, Chardae Reeves, Adriana Lewis, Lindsey Konich, MacKenzie Myers, Rachel Bernthold and Michkayla Edmondson.

The Hornets finished fourth (79.5) in last year's MSL-Cardinal meet behind Grandview (180.5), Fisher Catholic (128) and Liberty Union (105.5) and ahead of Berne Union (73), West Jefferson (43), Millersport (29.5) and Harvest Prep (10). They were 16th (10) in the district meet won by Hartley (111).

The postseason will present new challenges, but Ketcham said she believes the Hornets should contend for the league title.

"Oh, yes," she said. "If we can stay healthy, yes we can."

•The boys team, which also has moved up to Division I, returns two regional participants in seniors Sherrard Pollard and Andre Wiafe.

Pollard placed 15th in the long jump (18-8 3/4) while Wiafe was part of the 400 relay that finished eighth (44.46). Pollard also was part of the 1,600 relay that won an MSL-Cardinal title (3:32.54). The 400 relay won a league title (44.91), too, although at the time it was comprised of 2011 graduates Daniel Helton, Max Goodroe, Kerby Pierre and Brionne Mitchell. Tyrel Horsley, another top sprinter, also graduated last spring.

The tinkering with the lineup will continue, 14th-year coach Tim O'Cain said, coming out of the Hornet Relays after his team finished fourth (40) behind champion St. Charles (86) in the five-team event. The highlights included sophomore Bryan Justice's victory in the pole vault (10-0).

"We'll mix and match with our relays, move people around and try to get everyone in the right events," he said. "Like with (freshman) Austin (Greathouse), we found out he's a pretty good 400-meter kid and now maybe we'll try stretching him to 800."

The returnees also include seniors Matt Nichols (sprints, relays, hurdles), Zach Pascoe (hurdles, pole vault) and Caleb Smith (middle distance, distance), junior Josh Ausberry (sprints, jumps) and sophomores A.J. Velasquez (throws) and Caleb Abarra (sprints). Junior Kory Kenney, who was part of a 3,200 relay that placed second (8:29.76) in last year's league meet, missed the opening meet with a chest injury. Others expected to contribute include juniors Devante Davis and Abdule Mohamed, sophomores Dalton Herren and Emoni Herring and freshmen Matt Gebremedhim and Curtis Richardson.

The Hornets finished fourth (85) in last year's MSL-Cardinal meet behind Grandview and Liberty Union (139 each) and Berne Union (129) and ahead of West Jefferson (80), Fisher Catholic (35), Harvest Prep (25) and Millersport (24). They were 10th (24.5) behind champion Eastmoor Academy (131) in the Division II, district 2 meet.

Many of the freshmen boys and girls helped the middle school teams sweep the league titles last spring, and the boys team also won in 2010.

"A lot of the freshmen had success," O'Cain said. "Now they just have to get used to a new level."