The Pickerington High School North boys and girls track and field teams are excited to have returnees with state experience.

The Pickerington High School North boys and girls track and field teams are excited to have returnees with state experience.

Even more importantly to both programs' hopes this spring is that each seems to have athletes returning with significant experience in big meets in nearly every area of the track.

"We've got big numbers out again, with most of our sprinters and field events guys back," said Dave Spring, who enters his fourth season as boys coach. "Other than losing three or four of our distance guys, we've got just about everybody else back."

"We've still got a lot of girls out," said Jim Langenderfer, who is in his eighth season as girls coach. "We've got another great mix of talent among all the events."

Last season, the North boys scored 171 points to win the OCC-Ohio Division meet, ahead of Lancaster (148), Gahanna (147), Reynoldsburg (70.5), Pickerington Central (38), Groveport (31.5), Newark (30) and Grove City (25). The Panthers then finished fourth (72.5) of 15 teams that scored at the Division I district 2 meet behind champion Olentangy Liberty (121) before placing 12th (21) at regional behind champion Gahanna (63).

The girls finished fourth (85) in the OCC-Ohio meet, behind Gahanna (171), Reynoldsburg (135) and Pickerington Central (127.5) and ahead of Lancaster (59.5), Groveport (37), Newark (25) and Grove City (18). The Panthers then took third (84) of 12 teams that scored at the district 3 meet behind Watkins Memorial (120.5) and Hilliard Davidson (113), and tied three schools for 19th (13) of 37 teams that scored at regional as Reynoldsburg (95) won.

•The girls team did not score at state last year, but its two individual qualifiers, Bria Booker and Zena Kolliesuah, are back for their senior seasons. Booker was 13th in the long jump (16 feet, 7 3/4 inches) and Kolliesuah withdrew from the 400 meters because of an injury.

Other key seniors should include Julianne Ballog (pole vault/distance), Kim Black (distance), Jama Donovan (shot put), Morgan Grodesky (distance), Jordan Householder (sprints/long jump), Terrica Leonard (sprints), Lindsey Logsdon (hurdles/high jump), Ani Manukian (pole vault), Katie Rini (sprints/hurdles), Judy Tung (distance), Lindsay White (hurdles) and Che' Woods (sprints/hurdles). Ballog finished sixth in the pole vault (10-3) at the state indoor meet March 19 in Akron.

Juniors Meg Moledor and Alexa Strejeck and sophomores Kristen Eisenhauer and Fayth Greegor should be other key distance runners.

Also competing in field events should be juniors Harley Goodchild (pole vault), Neah Gray (shot put) and Jasmine Simmons (shot put) and sophomore Marie Hall (high jump). Others looking to contribute include sophomores Kendal Lane (sprints/pole vault), Alicia Meyer (hurdles), Rachelle Myers (hurdles), Sarah Rini (sprints/long jump) and Shurelle Stewart (hurdles).

"With Zena, Bria and Jordan, we've got some real mainstays in our short relays," Langenderfer said. "We'll try to give the girls a lot of opportunities to develop during the season and we'll try to bring it all together for the conference meet."

At district, Booker was third in the long jump (16-6 1/4), Kolliesuah was first in the 400 (57.56) and second in the 100 (12.68) and 200 (26.53), and Simmons was third in the discus (105-8) and shot put (33-1 1/2) to advance to regional. The 400 relay, 800 relay and 3,200 relay also moved on.

•The boys team will be led by Michael Ballentine, a senior who tied for eighth in the long jump (6-6) at state last year. At the state indoor meet March 19, he finished third (6-7) in the event.

Ballentine also might compete in the high jump and in sprinting events this spring.

Other seniors looking to contribute include Bennett Blazo (sprints), Frank Foster (middle distance), Nathaniel Lemke (distance), Sam Maratta (sprints), John Parsons (distance) and Demantis Okafor (sprints).

Much of the team's depth should come from its junior class. Pat Elflein (shot put/discus), Jared Lister (discus), Kyle Mushill (discus) and Alston Robertson (long jump) give the Panthers several strong competitors in the field events.

Also contributing in the sprints will be juniors Bryce Cordova and Stephon Goodwin and sophomore Trae Harris. Junior P.J. Cleary and sophomores Cody Kasey and Desmond Palmer will compete in hurdles and junior Frank Foster is expected to compete in middle distance.

Joining Parsons in distance will be juniors Austin Kilgore and James Whitehead and sophomores Nick Newman, Brent Pritchard and Sean Saffle.

"In years past, our backbone has been in distance events, but I'd say our sprinting and field events should be our strength this year, especially the field events," Spring said. "Our team goal would be to win OCC, and then see what happens."

Daniel Garleb, who is competing for Miami University, finished third at state in the 3,200 (9:18.9) last year. He combined with Ballentine to help North finish 32nd (6.33) of 68 teams that scored at state behind champion Warren Harding (47).

At district, Ballentine won the high jump (6-4), Garleb won the 3,200 (9:18.3) and 2010 graduates Nick Hissrich (second in 3,200, 9:28.29) and Justin Young (fourth in long jump, 20-3) also advanced to regional.