The season is more than just a series of meets for first-year Central Crossing High School track and field coach Reggie Cannon.
It is a series of steps.
Cannon expects his athletes to take each event as an opportunity to improve on their previous performance. Those seemingly small steps can lead to the intended goal of postseason success.
"We took one step (April 1 in the Rocky Brands Invitational at Nelsonville-York) and (took) another at Grove City (on April 4)," said Cannon, who was an assistant the past five seasons under former coach Doug Boggs. "We take things one step at a time and work toward getting better each time out. It's not all going to happen at once."
The girls are coming off their best season, which ended with the team having its first individual state champion. Taylor Manivanh, a 2016 graduate, cleared a program-record 18 feet, 2 1/2 inches to win the Division I long jump title.
Senior Julia Swallows and sophomore Abriana Mann showed the momentum of that performance can carry over into this season.
At Nelsonville-York, Mann won the 100 meters (13.2 seconds), 200 (27.17) and 400 (1:03.06), and Swallows won the pole vault (11-0).
"I have more experience this year, so that helps," said Mann, whose team finished fifth (54 points) of 14 teams in the big-school division behind champion Lancaster (145.5). "It's not going to be easy because there are so many good runners in the area. It's going to take a lot of hard work."
Swallows said she learned a lot from last season's seniors and knows the program still has many talented athletes.
"We had a really good, strong team last year and they showed us what we need to do to get to the next level," Swallows said. "We're trying to build off of that.
"Getting better is our No. 1 priority, and getting (personal records) every time out. We need to work toward getting better as a team and as individuals."
Senior Abiola Oseni also will be a top sprinter for the girls team along with Mann and Swallows. Senior Daetona Stasheen, junior Briana Arri-aga, sophomore Zoey Calafatis and freshman Jennifer Pena-Zamora should be the top performers in middle-distance and distance events. Juniors Madison Jordan, Sara Pfeifer and Chloe Webb and freshman Kiya Conner are the top throwers, with Swallows competing in the jumps along with freshmen Savanna Fleshman and Justina Ker.
"I consider this to be a young team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores competing this year," Cannon said. "The goal is to get them where they need to be by the (OCC-Central Division) meet (May 11 and 13 at Dublin Coffman)."
The boys finished seventh (35) of 15 teams in the big-school division at Nelsonville-York behind champion Lancaster (134). Junior Greg Patrick won the 800 (2:03.45).
"I think we have a good all-around team," Patrick said. "We have some good sprinters, distance runners and some good throwers. We have good talent."
Juniors Amare Edwards, Jerry Erwin and Nazar Momot and sophomores Manny Codjoe and Pierre France lead the boys in the sprints. Patrick and his junior brother, C.J. Patrick, look to pace the middle-distance and distance runners along with juniors Kyle Buerkle and Dylan Price, sophomore Michael Fry and freshman Tye Bradley.
Sophomore Luis Bolanos-Cruz is the top returning thrower along with junior Michael Nedved, sophomore Austin Grubb and freshman and Omari Green.
Seniors Elijah Ferguson, Nick Fulton and Wolfgang Meyerin join Bradley, Codjoe, Edwards and Momot in the jumps. Ferguson and Fulton will compete in the pole vault.
"We have to teach these guys that they can't fear anyone when they go out to compete," Cannon said. "They have to go out and believe in themselves. I tell them that we as coaches believe in them. All they have to do is go out and give their best effort and they will get better."
Boys tennis team
looks for progress
Dusty Rhodes entered his eighth season coaching the boys tennis team hoping his players would see dividends from their offseason work.
The Comets went 2-8 overall a year ago and finished seventh (0-6) in the OCC-Central behind champion Upper Arlington (6-0).
"Most of our players took lessons over the winter to help them progress, so we just need to get out and play," said Rhodes, whose team opened April 3 with a 5-0 loss to Jonathan Alder and begins league play Thursday, April 6, against UA. "We need to build off of that and continue to improve and become a team. Spring in Ohio is always tough to deal with weather-wise, so we need to make the most of the outside days."
The Comets return junior singles players Jason Pauquette and Ethan Wright, although Wright has been battling a knee injury.
Maxim Meleshchuk is the lone senior. He did not play last season, but likely will fit into the singles lineup.
Junior Brody Watson and sophomore Owen Yoakum also saw time on varsity a year ago.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Stephen Grubb, Andrew Gunning, Tyler Moore and Peter Semchishin and sophomore Stephen Semchishin.
"Our strength would be that we have a team that enjoys learning tennis," Rhodes said. "We are starting to get to a point where we're not always relying on young players to step in and contribute."
April 3 -- vs. Jonathan Alder
April 4 -- at Groveport
*April 6 -- vs. Upper Arlington
April 7 -- vs. Hamilton Township
April 10 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*April 11 -- vs. Marysville
*April 13 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 17 -- vs. Canal Winchester
*April 18 -- at Dublin Coffman
April 19 -- vs. Ready
April 25 -- vs. Marion-Franklin
April 27 -- vs. Eastmoor Academy
May 1 -- vs. Grandview
May 2 -- vs. Beechcroft
May 3 -- at Ready
May 8 -- at Grove City
May 10 -- at Hilliard Bradley
TRACK & FIELD
March 28 -- vs. Gahanna and Thomas Worthington
April 1 -- Rocky Brands Invitational at Nelsonville-York
April 4 -- at Grove City with Canal Winchester and Hamilton Township
April 8 -- Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut
April 11 -- vs. Grandview, Hilliard Davidson and Worthington Kilbourne
April 15 -- Best of the South-West at Franklin Heights
April 18 -- John Hammond Relays at Hilliard Darby
April 21 -- Wildcat Invitational at Westerville South
April 25 -- vs. Grove City, Grove City Christian, Newark, Ready and Westland
April 29 -- Anthony Wilson Invitational at Franklin Heights
May 2 -- vs. Briggs
May 5 -- Hilliard Bradley Invitational
May 11, 13 -- OCC-Central meet at Dublin Coffman
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing baseball and softball teams:
*April 7 -- At Marysville
April 8 -- Home vs. Fredericktown (DH)
*April 10 -- At Hilliard Davidson
April 11 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
*April 12 -- Home vs. Davidson
April 6 -- At Hartley
April 8 -- At Pickerington North with Watkins Memorial
April 10 -- At Olentangy
April 11 -- Home vs. Jonathan Alder
*April 12 -- At Upper Arlington