Derrius Mullins' early efforts in the discus and shot put this season already are exceeding what the DeSales High School senior accomplished last year when he reached the Division I state track and field meet.
He threw a personal-record 56 feet, 4 inches in the shot put to win the Stingel Invitational on April 8 at Pickerington North, and that same day was third in the discus (158-6). At state last year, he finished eighth in the shot put (53-11) and 15th in the discus (152-10).Video •Derrius Mullins of the DeSales boys track and field team competes in the Stingel Invitational on April 8 at Pickerington North.
As the Stallions entered an 10-day break from competition, Mullins embraced his long-term goals.
"I am glad I'm hitting PRs this early in the season, especially in the shot because I am changing my technique," said Mullins, who set a personal-best in the discus of 159-4 on April 1 in the Early Bird Invitational at Bellaire. "My coaches wanted me to start in a different position in the shot put, and the discus I am trying to fine-tune my quarter-turn. I only tried that for the first time (April 8). ...
"Since I made it to state, it's given me a lot of confidence going into this year. I think I'll have an easier road going to state than last year. I barely made it out of district in discus (placing third as the top four finishers advanced to regional), but still got to state."
Mullins, who originally committed to play football at Indiana University but instead plans to attend Jireh Prep Academy in Matthews, North Carolina, this fall because of academic issues, leads several key contributors who have returned from DeSales' first CCL championship team since 2012. Mullins was the Stallions' only state qualifier in 2016.
Other returnees include seniors Joe Arnold (sprints), James Ervin (sprints) and A.J. Sallee (sprints) and juniors Angelo Ricci (distance) and Art Williams (sprints).
Younger contributors thus far this season have included junior Zion Parker (sprints), sophomore Ian McCandlish (sprints, middle distance) and freshman Isaiah Thomas (sprints).
"We have tons of youth," fifth-year coach Ben McGinnis said. "But we also have a lot of carryovers from last year, and they are looking good. We are young, but we're fighting. The boys sprinters are fast. James isn't feeling a lot of pressure; he just knows he has to get the job done."
DeSales opened the season March 28 by finishing second (97 points) of 12 teams in the Booster Invitational at Hamilton Township behind Whitehall (104). The Stallions then won the 12-team Early Bird Invitational, scoring 104 points to finish ahead of runner-up Steubenville Catholic Central (74), before placing seventh (48) of 16 teams in the Stingel Invitational behind champion Pickerington Central (104).
The Stallions resume competition Wednesday, April 19, at the Gahanna Relays.
"We have to measure ourselves against the fastest kids in the state, and we are," McGinnis said.
girls track team
The girls track and field team has returned both of its Division I regional qualifiers from a year ago in junior distance runners Cammy Bury and Abi DeBrosse, and already at least one Stallion believes the team as a whole is in better shape than last season.
"We are not getting as winded and we have more endurance. The workouts we've done have really improved our times and ability to run longer," senior sprinter Claire Culhane said. "(McGinnis) just structured our workouts differently, with speed workouts one week and something different the next week, and so on."
Culhane is among a group of sprinters and middle-distance runners that also includes juniors Jacqueline Scott and Stephanie Suh and sophomore Lindsay Plymale. DeBrosse is defending CCL champion in the 1,600.
DeBrosse and Scott have DeSales' top individual finishes this season, having won the 3,200 (12:28.5) and 200 (26.65), respectively, at the Early Bird Invitational.
"We are trying to build (the sprinters) up to carry that side of the team," McGinnis said. "They are learning their races while they are learning how to be fast. That's not always an easy combination."
DeSales opened its season with a 10th-place finish (21) in the 11-team Booster Invitational behind co-champions and CCL rivals Hartley and Watterson (107). The Stallions placed fifth (55) of 14 teams at Bellaire behind champion New Martinsville (West Virginia) Magnolia (89), and finished 15th (3) of 15 teams in the Stingel Invitational behind champion Pickerington Central (109).
Bury, Culhane, Plymale and Suh comprised the 3,200 relay that finished sixth (10:35.89) in the Stingel Invitational.
Other expected contributors include seniors Morgan Rowan (sprints) and Emily Ziegler (distance), juniors Alex Foos (hurdles, sprints) and Sydney Williams (distance) and sophomore Sarah Pancake (distance).
leading tennis team
Senior Armando Michaelangelo has returned to lead the boys tennis team at first singles, and first-year coach Tom Snyder has promising freshmen and veterans scattered elsewhere throughout the lineup as DeSales tries to learn from last year's struggles.
DiMichaelangelo, a fourth-year varsity player, leads a group of returnees that also includes juniors Dylan Benedict and Khoa Do, who began the season playing doubles. Snyder also is encouraged by the early performances of freshmen Nate Stevens and Liam Verfurth, who played singles early.
Benedict and Do are third-year varsity players.
"We're good at the top," Snyder said. "Nate has been a great addition. He's a great competitor. Liam had a 2-hour, 15-minute match in his first varsity match and ended up winning (March 24 against Hamilton Township). It was his first time in a competitive match and he showed us a lot. All three (singles players) have won tough matches early on."
DeSales was 1-2 overall before playing Bloom-Carroll on April 10. The Stallions went 1-13 overall last year and did not advance any players to the Division II district tournament.
DeSales defeated Hamilton Township 3-2 in its season and home opener, and returned from spring break with 4-1 losses to Delaware on April 3 and Buckeye Valley on April 4.
Senior Tommy Mulligan and junior Justin Braun round out the roster. Mulligan has not played varsity tennis since his freshman season.
Snyder replaced Rob Lehman, who coached the Stallions for four seasons. Snyder was girls tennis coach last fall, the boys team's junior varsity coach in 2015 and a varsity assistant last spring.
He also is DeSales' director of digital communication.
The Stallions began CCL play April 11 against defending league champion St. Charles. DeSales went 1-3 in the CCL last year to place fourth behind the Cardinals (4-0).
"I just want them to have a good experience," Snyder said. "Last year was tough. We weren't in a lot of matches. They will get better every day. The mistakes we've seen so far, those are things we can correct."
March 24 -- vs. Hamilton Township
April 3 -- at Delaware
April 4 -- at Buckeye Valley
April 6 -- Whetstone at Park of Roses
April 10 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll
*April 11 -- vs. St. Charles
*April 18 -- Watterson at Park of Roses
April 19 -- vs. Mount Vernon
April 20 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 22 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Invitational
April 24 -- at Thomas Worthington
*April 25 -- vs. Hartley
April 26 -- vs. Whitehall
May 1 -- at Hamilton Township
*May 2 -- at Ready
May 3 -- vs. Centennial
May 4 -- at Lancaster
May 8 -- at Worthington Christian
TRACK & FIELD
March 28 -- Booster Invitational at Hamilton Township
April 1 -- Early Bird Invitational at Bellaire
April 8 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 19 -- Gahanna Relays
April 21 -- Fulton Relays at Lancaster
April 28 -- Olentangy Invitational
May 5 -- Larkin-Crosten Invitational at Upper Arlington
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and softball teams:
April 17 -- At Jonathan Alder
April 18 -- At Bloom-Carroll
*April 19 -- At Hartley
April 19 -- Home vs. St. Charles
*April 19 -- At Hartley
*April 19 -- Home vs. Watterson