With 82 athletes from which to choose, Andy Cox is filled with excitement entering his 14th season as coach of the Thomas Worthington boys track and field team.

With 82 athletes from which to choose, Andy Cox is filled with excitement entering his 14th season as coach of the Thomas Worthington boys track and field team.

The size of his roster helps give Cox many options entering the season.

"I've been out in the halls recruiting and it has paid off for us," said Cox, whose team opens Saturday at home against Westerville Central. "When you have a lot more athletes, you can see the benefits of competition. When you have that many guys, you should be able to find some diamonds in the rough."

Senior Max Friedlander returns after being a Division I regional qualifier last season in the 3,200 meters, finishing 13th in 10 minutes, 9.53 seconds. Other returning regional qualifiers are seniors Alaji Bah and Madison Murphy, juniors Lukas Cameron and Daniel McGeary and sophomores Armand Austin, Ray Crook and Andrew Maetzold.

Murphy was 14th in the 1,600 (4:41.31). Bah, Maetzold and Austin joined 2009 graduate Michael Stanley finished ninth in the 800 relay (1:31.32), Bah, Maetzold, Stanley and Murphy were 11th in the 1,600 relay (3:27.31), Bah, Austin, Cameron and 2009 graduate Taylor Voris finished 12th in the 400 relay (44.67) and 2009 graduate Josh Palmer, McGeary, Crook and 2009 graduate Michael Majoros were 16th in the 3,200 relay (8:45.37).

The Cardinals did not score at regional, as Gahanna (81) won the title.

"I would say we're pretty well-balanced," Cox said. "We have six or seven guys who are close to 2 (minutes) flat in the 800, so you can always bump them up to the mile or put them down in the 400 if you need to. We also have a lot of good 200 runners, who you can move down to the 100 or up to the 400, if needed."

Also expected to be a key contributor is sophomore Nana Kyeremeh, a first-year track athlete whom Cox said is still learning to run the 400. Senior pole-vaulters Tyler Graham and Josh Perger both went 12 feet, 6 inches last year and enter the season with an eye on the program record of 14-5.

Juniors Alex Geiser and Mike Pisching could be pivotal in the throws.

"We have a couple of new guys throwing for us in Mike Pisching and Alex Geiser," Cox said. "Hopefully they can be quick learners and help us out in that area."

Last year, the Cardinals scored 48 points in the district 1 meet to finish seventh of 17 teams, behind champion Gahanna (123). Thomas totaled 85 points in the OCC-Central meet to tie Dublin Coffman for third, behind Hilliard Darby (172) and Hilliard Davidson (104.3) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (77.3), Upper Arlington (63.5), Central Crossing (51.3) and Westland (15).

•The girls team returns 12 seniors, including Melissa Girgis, Claire Graupmann and Kelsey McAlpine in the distance events, Tashianna Sullivan and Amber Williams in the sprints, Nana Agyepong and Samantha Rubinoski in the long jump and Chaioma Umunnibuki in the high jump.

"Right now, I think we're pretty balanced between distance and sprints," said coach Nancy Beattie, who begins her 20th season leading the program. "We may be a little weak in the field events, but we have some younger kids who will get better as the year goes along."

Junior Danielle Henderson (sprints/high jump/long jump) and sophomore Kendall Kwiatkowski (sprints) also return. Beattie expects freshmen Cheyenne Buckingham (distance) and Frannie Frazier (hurdles) to have an immediate impact.

"We have approximately 51 girls out, which is pretty normal for us," Beattie said. "Sometimes we have a little more, but that's about average."

Last year, the Cardinals had one state qualifier in 2009 graduate Allie Wood, who finished with a program-record 12-4 in the pole vault to tie Troy's Erica Kemp for second, behind Katie Nageotte (12-8) of Olmsted Falls.

Thomas scored seven points at state to tie five other teams for 30th, behind champion Reynoldsburg (82) with 71 teams scoring.

The Cardinals scored 110 points in the OCC-Central meet to place second, behind Davidson (166) and ahead of Darby (106.5), Upper Arlington (89.5), Coffman (81.5), Central Crossing (56), Kilbourne (36.5) and Westland (16).

At a glance

Coaches: Boys -- Andy Cox, 14th season; Girls -- Nancy Beattie, 20th season Opener: Saturday vs. Westerville Central Key athletes: Boys -- Armand Austin, Alaji Bah, Max Friedlander, Tyler Graham, Nana Kyeremeh, Andrew Maetzold and Josh Perger; Girls -- Nana Agyepong, Melissa Girgis, Claire Graupmann, Danielle Henderson, Kendall Kwiatkowski, Tashianna Sullivan, Chaioma Umunnibuki and Amber Williams SCHEDULE April 3 vs. Westerville Central April 6 vs. Upper Arlington April 10 at Pickerington North Panther Invitational *April 13 at Hilliard Davidson April 17 at Dublin Coffman Invitational *April 20 vs. Coffman April 23-24 at Eastlake North Ranger Relays *April 27 vs. Westland May 1 Gary Smith Invitational *May 4 at Hilliard Darby May 6 at Westerville South May 13, 15 at OCC-Central meet (Central Crossing)

*OCC-Central meet