For the first time, Sam Lehman will be a guest and not director for the Olentangy Invitational boys and girls track and field meet Friday at Olentangy High School.

For the first time, Sam Lehman will be a guest and not director for the Olentangy Invitational boys and girls track and field meet Friday at Olentangy High School.

"I'm trying to figure how I'm going to live up to the reputation Sam established with it," said Olentangy girls coach Dwight Dewese, who now is the meet director. "I'm pulling out my hair right now trying to figure out how he managed to do things. Hopefully I won't disappoint him."

Joining Olentangy will be Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange, Pickerington North, Pickerington Central, Watterson, Big Walnut and Columbus West. Last year, the Liberty girls team scored 124 points to repeat as team champion, finishing ahead of Pickerington North (112.3), Olentangy (97.3), Dublin Scioto (66), Reynoldsburg (49), Watterson (41.3) and Big Walnut (37). North won the boys competition with 109 points, ahead Liberty (103), Olentangy (99.5), Big Walnut (97.5), Pickerington Central (65), Watterson (39) and Reynoldsburg (12).

"It's our invitational so we have to shine," Adaora Anunike of Olentangy said. "We have to show people what we're made of."

"We want to place well," Josh Perry said. "We're proud to have Braves written across the front of our uniforms."

At the Freedom Relays last Friday at Liberty, Perry, Ryan Summers and Dayjon Baugh won the long jump relay (combined 59 feet, 4 1/2 inches) and Joe Shin, Monte Davis, Ryan Clemens, Bryce Cheek won the 1,600-meter relay (3 minutes, 29 seconds). The Olentangy boys team finished third (88) behind Westerville Central (96) and Dublin Jerome (96) and ahead of Liberty (82), Dublin Scioto (50) and Liberty B (8).

"This sets us up pretty well for the invitational," Olentangy boys coach Brad Komenda said. "The guys are realizing what they're capable of doing."

The girls team won four of the five field events and the shuttle hurdle relays to place second (97) behind Scioto (100) and ahead of Westerville Central (86), Liberty (59), Jerome (54) and Pickerington North (38).

Anunike, Maggie Elliott and Christa Bender won the discus (262- 0 1/2) and Anunike, Elliott and Tutu Bongay took first in the shot put (94-7 1/2).

"Before the season, we got everyone together and said, 'OK, we're going to get serious about this,'" Anunike said. "We're like a family. Even when we would have a bad throw, we'd encourage each other with, 'You know you've got this. You have to stay strong.'"

Also winning for the Braves were Elizabeth Bice, Whitney Bice and Julie Jefferis in the pole vault (23-0), Nicole Paplaczyk, Britney Simmons and Olivia Langwasser in the high jump (14-2) and Megan Schweller, Langwasser, Molly Gilbert and Simmons in the shuttle hurdles (1:07.1).

•Liberty boys coach Ryan Snively and girls coach Charlie Smith have been telling their athletes not to be discouraged with the times and distances they had last Friday.

"We're heavy into the training right now. The kids' legs are tired, so we had some average performances," Snively said. "You have to keep telling them, 'It's going to get better. You will get there.'"

Jon Buffington, Doug Greening, Tyler Ross and Josh Frash won the lap medley (11:30.5) and Joey Uhle, Michael Rhinehart and David Bartone won the pole vault (33-0). After finishing second to Jerome in the 6,400 relay, Frash said the Patriots were determined not to lose the lap medley on the last lap.

"In the lap medley, we started out strong and ran hard the entire way," Frash said. "We kept gaining ground and when it got to me on the last leg, I had plenty of room to run."
For the girls team, Melinda Hersey, Terese Gullo and Madeleine Harwig were second in the 22-0.

"Placing second in the pole vault means we did well
against a lot of the other teams in the area," Hersey said. "All three of us work really well

"Right now we're developing the kids' legs so that they're getting strong enough to finish races (well)," Smith said. "Like we tell our girls, we'd rather see hardware at the end of May than in the end of April."