Heading into the season, the Reynoldsburg High School boys and girls track and field teams didn't shy away from setting the bar high.

Heading into the season, the Reynoldsburg High School boys and girls track and field teams didn't shy away from setting the bar high.

Coach Denny Hammond, whose boys team has won the last six district titles and girls team was fourth in the state last season, said his team isn't "scared to talk about how good we are statewide."

Until the district, regional and state meets roll around in a few weeks, the Raiders won't be able to see how they truly measure up to their expectations.

But considering the schedule they will have been through by the time they get to the postseason, they should have a pretty good idea how they stack up against the elite in Ohio and beyond.

"I just think it helps you down the road when you can get to the regional or state and say, 'Hey, we've run against all these people before,'" Hammond said. "This isn't any bigger than (the Mansfield Mehock Relays)."

Last Saturday, the Raiders competed in another big-time meet, the Poland Seminary Invitational. The boys won the title with 126 points, easily beating out second-place Twinsburg (70), and the girls were third (83) behind Twinsburg (98) and Cuyahoga Valley Christian (87).

Among the Raiders' toughest tests have been the Mansfield Mehock Relays on April 18 and the Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson on April 5.

At Mansfield, the girls finished fifth and the boys finished ninth. Medina, which was 14th in the state in Division I last season, won the boys title, and Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer, which won the Lower Peninsula Division I championship in Michigan last season, won the girls title.

In the Wildcat Premier, the boys were third behind Cleveland St. Ignatius and Cleveland Glenville. The girls were third behind Mason and Wadsworth. Glenville won the Division I boys state title last year.

Both the girls and boys teams have been well-rounded so far. On the girls side, the throwers have been exceptionally strong, winning three of three discus relay titles and two of three shot put relay titles. Junior Melissa Dodaro has the longest discus throw in the state this season at 145 feet, 4 inches. Freshman Donyelle Brown set a personal best of 39-7 in the shot put against Grove City on April 22, and senior Lauren Sloan threw a personal best of 119-5 in the discus at Mansfield.

The Raiders also have been solid in the distance and sprint events, and they expect to improve with the return of junior Ashley Phillips from a hamstring injury soon. Hammond said freshmen Azia Walker and Taneisha Cordell have made an impact, as expected.

Junior Timia Ingram, the defending regional champion in the 100 meters, said she feels good about the way the Raiders are training.

"We have really good chemistry this year, socially, and when we run together on relays, we help each other out by holding blocks and stuff," Ingram said. "So when we have our hard workouts or even just our regular workouts, we go out there and we encourage each other and keep each other strong."

On the boys side, the Raiders have done well despite injuries to their top hurdler (David Franklin) and one of their top distance runners (Daryl Murphy). Both are expected back soon. The boys have gotten a lift from a few first-year track athletes who have made a bigger splash than even Hammond expected.

Junior Huss Trowery threw 49-0 1/2 to win the discus against Grove City. Senior Shelby Porras had the best high jump at Reynoldsburg in more than 10 years when he cleared 6-5 in the same meet. Porras also ran a 50.8 seconds in the 400 at Mansfield and his best in long jump is more than 21-0.

Senior Mike Knisley isn't far off of Porras' mark of 6-5, and said the addition of Porras has helped him raise his level as well.

"It pushes me a lot, especially because I've got competition on my own team to try to be No. 1," Knisley said. "We're both competing against each other and other tams. We usually never score points in high jump, and this year we're getting two scores."

In addition to the high jump, Knisley said he'd like to reach the state in the 800 and as a member of the 3,200 relay. The 3,200 relay has been undefeated, and Knisley has gone as low as 1:55 on his 800 split. He'd like to break the program record of 1:53.

The Raiders' early performances certainly have gained some respect on the state level. On April 18, OHRunners released its first statewide power rankings, and the girls were ranked second behind Mason and the boys were ranked eighth as Huber Heights Wayne took the top spot.

"You look at the honor roll in (The Columbus Dispatch) and we're in quite a few events," Hammond said. "We just have to do some fine-tuning and maybe change a few things here and there."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys and girls track and field teams:

April 18 -- Boys: Finished ninth (23.5) in Mansfield Mehock Relays behind champion Medina (70). Reynoldsburg won the 3,200 relay (8:01.23); Girls: Finished fifth (43) behind champion Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer (75). Reynoldsburg won the discus (145-4) and 800 (2:21.53) relays.

*April 22 -- Boys: Defeated Grove City 87-52; Girls: Def. Grove City 82-49

Last Friday -- Olentangy Liberty Relays postponed to May 8

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished first (126) in Poland Seminary Invitational ahead of second-place Twinsburg (70). Mike Knisley won the 800 (1:57.52) and Shelby Porras captured the high jump (6-2). The Raiders also were victorious in the 3,200 (8:03.17), 1,600 (3:26.05) and 800 (1:30.13) relays; Girls: Finished third (83) behind Twinsburg (98) and Cuyahoga Valley Christian (87). Melissa Dodaro won the shot put (41-7) and Reynoldsburg won the 400 relay (50.16).

Last Tuesday -- Competed against Dublin Coffman

Friday -- At Olentangy Invitational

Saturday -- At Jesse Owens Classic at Ohio State

Tuesday -- At Upper Arlington