Kaitlyn Swearingen already felt at home in many events for the Canal Winchester High School girls track and field team, but coach Darren Avery suggested one more job for the junior last winter.
"During the offseason, we lift as a team and (Avery) told me, 'I think I want to put you in some hurdles,' " said Swearingen, a junior who competed in middle-distance and sprint events as well as the pole vault as an underclassman. "He started me on some hurdle exercises and it just took off."
Avery did not introduce Swearingen to hurdling simply to add depth to that event, although that is a benefit for the Indians. He felt hurdling would help her with the pole vault, in which her personal-best height entering the week was 8 feet, 6 inches.
Swearingen was scheduled to try shuttle hurdles for the first time April 28 during the Milt Will Relays, but the Indians' annual signature home meet was canceled after 13 events because of bad weather. That would have been the latest new frontier for Swearingen, who also usually runs the 400 and 800 meters as one of several athletes whom Avery can trust to fill an event when needed.
That group also includes another vaulter in Katlyn Faieta, who runs the 200 and 400 as well as the 400 and 800 relays; Hannah Olger, a first-year runner who ranges from the 100 to 800; and Mikaela Vojacek, who fills in in middle-distance events
"Without those kinds of athletes, we are dead in the water," Avery said. "You have to have people who just step up when you need them to."
Swearingen embraces her versatility and its accompanying unpredictability.
"It's been interesting being thrown around," Swearingen said. "There's some pride there. It means a lot to me. I know the coaches can trust me and have some respect for my abilities."
Faieta, a junior who called the 200 her favorite event, said sprinting and eight years of gymnastics provided a healthy base for vaulting. She quit gymnastics before her freshman year and took up track to stay busy, but did not anticipate falling for pole vaulting to the point that she now trains at Buckeye Pole Vault Academy in Lewis Center.
"I thought it'd be a one-year thing, but now it is something I work on all year-round. I had no idea I'd get this serious with it," Faieta said. "Sprinting helps a lot with pole vault just because of so much speed and acceleration. It helps me with my height, and I'm glad I brought sprinting into the field."
Faieta's personal best in the pole vault is 8-0.
"The biggest thing to get used to is getting your steps together," Faieta said. "Everything changes (from meet to meet). It depends on the weather, the wind and you have to make sure you're getting into the pit correctly. It took a lot going from the ground and getting up and over (the bar) into the pit and using everything you have learned to actually do it."
Several Canal Winchester athletes were the top finishers in their events at the Milt Will Relays.
On the boys side, the 800 relay of Gibby Cornett, Denzell Feagin, Lonzell Feagin and Myron Johnson won in 1 minute, 30.53 seconds. Lonzell Feagin won the long jump (23-2 3/4) and Danny Jones finished first in the discus (155-6) and shot put (48-3 1/2).
Erica Babusci tied for first in the high jump (5-0) to lead the girls.
After concluding the regular season Friday, May 5, at the Hilliard Bradley Invitational, the Indians will prepare for the OCC-Capital Division meet at Dublin Coffman. Field events and running preliminaries will be held Wednesday, May 10, and finals for the running events will be May 13.
Baseball team in
midst of huge week
The baseball team controlled its destiny in the race for the OCC-Capital championship as it entered a hectic final week of league play.
Canal Winchester was scheduled to play five league games in as many days beginning May 1 against Franklin Heights. The Indians, who played at New Albany on May 3, will play host to Groveport on Thursday, May 4. Then on Friday, May 5, they will complete a suspended game against Newark from April 20 before playing their regularly-scheduled game at home.
Entering the week, Canal Winchester was 14-4 overall and 9-1 in the OCC-Capital, ahead of New Albany (9-3) and Big Walnut (8-4). Those were the only other teams also in title contention at the start of the week.
The Indians' hopes for a perfect league season came to an end April 26 with a 2-1, nine-inning loss at Big Walnut.
After this week, the Indians' attention will turn to the Division I district tournament, when they will try to improve on last year's district runner-up finish.
Seeded fifth of 46 teams, Canal Winchester took a first-round bye and will play host to 25th-seeded Lancaster or 26th-seeded Watkins Memorial in the second-round Wednesday, May 10. That winner will advance to a district semifinal May 15 at a neutral site to be determined. The Indians did not play the Golden Gales or Warriors during the regular season.
Softball team scores
26 runs versus Falcons
The softball team broke a six-game losing streak with its best offensive output of the season, routing Franklin Heights 26-17 in an OCC-Capital game April 27.
Kaylee Dunkle and Brooklyn Wolfe had two- and three-run home runs, respectively, as the Indians piled up 28 hits and scored at least 20 runs for the third time this season. Canal Winchester, which also topped 20 runs in a 22-7 win over Celebration, Florida, on March 29 and a 21-3, five-inning win over Franklin Heights on April 17, was 5-17 overall and 2-6 in the league before playing New Albany on May 1.
The Indians were scheduled to wrap up their regular season May 3 at Newark.
On Monday, May 8, Canal Winchester will begin Division I district tournament play when it travels to 30th-seeded Centennial for a first-round game. The Indians are seeded 36th of 45 teams. The winner will visit fourth-seeded Gahanna for a second-round game Wednesday, May 10. That winner will advance to a district semifinal May 15.
Canal Winchester did not play Centennial or Gahanna during the regular season.
"We just have to keep improving, just get better," coach Randy Hinton said. "We have been on occasion, but we've taken steps back."