The Westerville South High School girls track and field team has 75 athletes on its roster, but a large portion of those athletes are either new to their events or new to the sport.

The Westerville South High School girls track and field team has 75 athletes on its roster, but a large portion of those athletes are either new to their events or new to the sport.

Consequently, 28th-year coach Jim Gaul isn't sure if the Wildcats have enough experience to challenge for the OCC-Cardinal Division title.

"Right now, I just don't think we have the depth to make that a realistic goal," said Gaul, whose team scored 40 points in the Hammond Relays on March 26 at Pickerington Central to finish sixth of seven teams, behind champion Central (86). "You have to have realistic goals, so we're telling them, 'Let's just get better every day and see where we are when May rolls around.' I'm excited to see how we start out and get a basis of what we're capable of."

Last season, the Wildcats tied Dublin Scioto, Oxford Talawanda and Cincinnati Winton Woods for 61st (2) at the Division I state meet at Ohio State, behind champion Reynoldsburg (56).

In the OCC-Cardinal meet, South was fourth (71) behind Dublin Scioto (158), Westerville Central (118.5) and Olentangy (79), and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (68.5), Westerville North (66), Marysville (60) and Dublin Jerome (41).

The Wildcats were fifth (75) in the district 3 meet at Dublin Coffman behind champion Watkins Memorial (120.5) and tied Zanesville for 16th (14) in the regional meet at Pickerington North behind champion Reynoldsburg (95).

Expected to be among the top athletes for South this season are seniors Ed-Petra Adarquah (discus/shot put), Bre Colley (high jump/long jump), Lizzie Gauen (pole vault), Jojo Helba (distance), Carly Marburger (pole vault), Elizabeth Markle (distance) and Tori Sumner (sprints), juniors Nikia Buckingham (sprints), Alex Hall (sprints/long jump), Leija Harris (sprints) and Abbey McDonald (sprints), and sophomore Olivia Watkins (hurdles/long jump).

Last season, Buckingham and Hall teamed with 2010 graduates Edna Akora and Leah Coleman to finish seventh at state in the 800-meter relay (1 minute, 42.91 seconds).

"We need to find some more long jumpers and high jumpers if we want to compete," Gaul said. "I'm also a little concerned about our distance. The runners we have are good, but there's not enough of them. I think that could affect us down the road."

•Second-year boys coach Jimmy Gaul considers his team's depth and experience to be its strong points.

Last season, South tied Amherst Steele, Canton Timken, Cincinnati Withrow and Middleburg Heights Midpark for 56th (2) at state behind champion Warren Harding (47). In the OCC-Cardinal meet, the Wildcats finished sixth (54.5) behind Liberty (142), Central (111.5), North (104), Olentangy (91) and Marysville (78), and ahead of Scioto (41) and Jerome (38).

South finished seventh (40) at the district 3 meet last year behind champion Brookhaven (89) and tied Athens and St. Charles for 27th (5) at the regional meet behind champion Gahanna (63).

The Wildcats, who scored 49 points in the Hammond Relays on March 26 to finish fifth of seven teams behind champion Lancaster (92), lost their only state qualifier a year ago to graduation in Tevin Favor, who placed seventh in the high jump (6 feet, 6 inches).

Among those expected to be key athletes this spring are seniors Ray Ball (discus/shot put), Nick Conley (sprints/mid-distance), Jaren Edwards (high jump), Matt Hay (pole vault), Benson Jung (pole vault), Adam Kendrick (distance) and Evan Moore (hurdles), juniors Kelly Carter (sprints) and Troy Elizondo (mid-distance), and sophomore Noah Prentiss (sprints).

According to Gaul, the Wildcats look to be strong in the sprints and sprint relays, and they have athletes who can score in almost every event.

"We've got a lot of depth and talent, and we have a talented freshman class with us as well," he said. "At this point, I'm happy with what we have. I'm happy with the effort shown over the winter, so as we're getting ready to open the season, I'm looking forward to seeing how everybody looks."