The Olentangy Orange High School boys track and field team has a simple goal for Tuesday, April 3, when it plays host to Dublin Jerome and Licking Valley.

The Olentangy Orange High School boys track and field team has a simple goal for Tuesday, April 3, when it plays host to Dublin Jerome and Licking Valley.

The Pioneers just want to fare better than they did March 27 when they opened the season against Grove City and Thornville Sheridan.

"The first meet you go out and set a mark as high as you can," coach Nate Huffman said. "Then you try to beat that mark in every other meet. If you do that, things take care of themselves."

Orange's season ended last year in the Division I regional meet at Pickerington North. The Pioneers failed to score as Thomas Worthington and Westerville North tied for first with 37 points.

The Pioneers return two of their five regional qualifiers in juniors Trey Pride and Larry Rode, who joined Orisha Nnani and Ross Watkins in an 11th-place finish in the 400-meter relay (43.99 seconds). Nnani, Watkins and Zach Warner, who failed to clear the opening height of the high jump at regional, graduated last year.

Huffman, who is in his second season at Orange, said he could see members of his team participating in the state meet this year.

In the indoor state meet March 17 at the University of Akron, junior Josh Parker placed 11th in the triple jump by clearing 40 feet, 10 1/2 inches to finish behind champion Anthony Young (45-1) of Lakewood St. Edward. Orange didn't score as St. Edward won with 75 points.

Also in the field events, senior Andy Bosley returns to high jump after taking a year off to focus on basketball. Junior Triston Richardson was clearing 14-0 in the pole vault during the indoor season before tearing a ligament in his hip. He's expected to return in six weeks.

In the distance group, seniors Connor Brown and Chris Gearinger are running times of 2:03 in the 800, about four seconds faster than the end of last season. Senior Danny Meyung (1,600, 3,200) and juniors Eric Aumiller (800, 1,600) and Sam Gerst (1,600) also are showing promise, according to Huffman.

"There's no reason why (Meyung) shouldn't be looking forward to a trip to (the state meet) at the end of the season," Huffman said.

Pride, Rode, senior Deyshon Hill, juniors D.J. Archer and Jess Glover and sophomore Jeddy Awuah should contribute in the sprints and hurdles.

Orange finished fifth (60) in last year's OCC-Capital meet behind Watkins Memorial (156), New Albany (155), Big Walnut (103) and Hilliard Bradley (82) and ahead of Franklin Heights (41), Mount Vernon (36) and Delaware (27).

The Pioneers placed 12th (21) in the district 1 meet behind champion Thomas (87). Rode, Nnani, Pride and Watkins were third (43.8) in the 400 relay and Warner was fourth in the high jump (6-0).

Daniels returns to lead girls team

Last year, junior Katelyn Daniels became the second member of the girls team to advance to state. She placed seventh in both the discus (131-8) and shot put (42-4) as Orange tied 10 teams for 44th place (4) behind champion Reynoldsburg (47).

This year, coach Ingrid Simpson would like Daniels to have some company there.

"A lot of kids look up to Katelyn," said the fourth-year coach, whose other state qualifier was pole vaulter Ayla Starcher, who placed eighth (11-0) as a senior in 2010. "(Having someone qualify for state) serves as a great motivator. The girls realize it is realistic we could get someone to the state meet."

In the indoor state meet, Daniels placed second in the shot put (40-4 1/2) behind champion Sophia Nnadi of DeSales (40-11 1/4), and classmate Hannah Hartzell was second in the 3,200 (11:04.75) behind champion Alexa Aughenbaugh of Toledo Notre Dame Academy (11:02.55). The Pioneers tied Akron Buchtel and Uniontown Green for 10th (16) behind champion Solon (58).

Hartzell, seniors Jillian Barnett and Zoey Del Pinto, juniors Morgan Browning and Brooke Pulkrabek and sophomore Alana Stillion return to compete in middle distance and distance events. In last year's district 3 meet, Barnett, Browning, Pulkrabek and Stillion were third in the 3,200 relay (10:03.87).

Joining Daniels in the field events is senior long jumper Mary McLain, who also runs distance. Last year, Daniels won district titles in the high jump (5-0) and shot put (41-7) and finished second in the discus (118-8), while McLain was third in the long jump (15-10 1/4).

At regional, Daniels was second in the shot put (41-7 3/4) and third in the discus (123-4).

Seniors Tiffany Brooks and Kristen Kullberg (hurdles) and sophomore Madison Doon also return and will compete in sprints.

The Pioneers finished seventh (59) in the OCC-Capital meet last season behind Watkins Memorial (152.5), Big Walnut (119), New Albany (86), Bradley (85), Mount Vernon (64) and Franklin Heights (63.5) and ahead of Delaware (27).

Orange finished fifth (73) at district behind champion Dublin Scioto (139) and placed 13th (17) at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (88).

"We're deeper this year, especially in sprints," Simpson said. "I'm excited to see what is going to happen."