On a rainy, chilly spring afternoon, Bexley High School's distance runners huddled under the awning of the concession stand, talking with girls track and field coach Jamie Hayes.
Well, not all of them.
As part of her constant effort to improve, Molly Fagin was still out doing her mileage on the streets surrounding the school.
Last spring in the Division II state meet, Fagin placed fourth in the 3,200 meters in a program-record 11 minutes, 5.96 seconds. Now, the senior wants more.
"My goals might be a little unrealistic, but I would like to go 10:45 or 10:50, but as long as I get under 11 that would be good," she said. "I was fourth in the state last year, so I want to finish better than that."
Fagin's best time in the 3,200 this season is 11:32, but she has not run in the event for a few weeks. She plans to begin competing in the 3,200 again Friday, May 4, in the Columbus East Tigers Invitational. That is Bexley's final competition before the MSL-Ohio Division meet Tuesday, May 8, and May 11 at London.
If Hayes made a list of everything a runner needed to do to be successful, Fagin would check all of the boxes.
"I think what makes Molly great is that she's naturally talented and has the things you cannot teach," Hayes said. "You either have it or you don't, and she has that.
"She has the talent, but she works so hard and that makes a difference. She's so coachable. When I tell her what I want her to do for workouts, she does it. She doesn't question it. That's something you love as a coach. She follows the plan, she trusts it and she works so hard. When you take those three things together -- talent, hard work and being coachable -- it's quite the combination."
While in her fourth season in track, Fagin did not go out for cross country until her sophomore year but still was a three-time Division II state qualifier. Despite being injured for most of her senior season with an iliotibial (IT) band injury in her left leg, she finished 42nd of 179 competitors at state in 19:25.2 after placing 17th (18:51.6) as a junior.
"I had an injury to the IT band near my hip flexors in September and I had to deal with it all through cross country," Fagin said. "Once that (season) was over, I was able to get it taken care of.
"I started physical therapy in December and finished it in March, right before track started. It took a really long time to heal. I took off running until January and then it was just a progression plan where I would add mileage every week. By the time we got to track, I was where I needed to be."
Now healthy, Fagin is excited about her prospects for the coming weeks. She's aiming for two program records -- the 1,600 record of 5:01.45 set by Karla Rutherford in 1986 and the 800 mark of 2:17.0 set by Charlotte Myers in 2011.
"I'm kind of hoping to break the record in the 1,600 or the 800, and I'm hoping to have good weather and good competition to push me to get close to it," Fagin said.
"I like the 800 because I run it in the (3,200 relay). I really like the relay because of the team aspect. Running the 800 seems really short to me. It's like running a sprint."
Fagin will be running both track and cross country when she attends Ohio State. She said track is her favorite because of the added pressure of the crowd watching her every move.
"I feel better running on a track, and I like that everyone can see you," said Fagin, who has a 4.35 GPA and plans to major in exercise science. "When you run cross country, you are running in the woods a lot and away from the crowd, but when people are cheering me on it's better. It's a little more pressure, but I feed off of that."
Fagin will get that pressure in the league meet. Last season, the girls finished third (134 points) behind Grandview (144) and Columbus Academy (136.5) and the boys were fourth (96) behind champion Grandview (146).
"So far, I'm happy with my (3,200) time," she said. "This time last year, I was at 11:54 and I'm around 11:32, so I'm better than last year. My time started dropping in May last year, so hopefully that will happen again."
Baseball team falls short of league title
The baseball team fell short of winning its fifth consecutive MSL-Ohio championship when it lost to league-leading London 8-7 on Aug. 26.
The Lions were 8-9 overall and 4-4 in the league before playing Worthington Christian on April 30 and May 2. They also are slated to play at Westerville North on Thursday, May 3, and at home against Dublin Scioto on Saturday, May 5.
Entering the week with two league games remaining, London led at 6-2 with Grandview in second at 5-3. The Red Raiders and Bobcats played each other in their final two league games April 30 and May 2.
The Lions are seeded 13th of 22 teams for the Division II district tournament. They open Tuesday, May 8, at home against 19th-seeded Eastmoor Academy, and the winner plays in a second-round game May 10 at third-seeded Jonathan Alder.
Through 17 games, Anthony Welsh led Bexley in batting average (.442), on-base percentage (.554) and RBI (14), and he also had 12 runs and 11 stolen bases.
Ryan Callaghan led in runs (14), stolen bases (13) and doubles (7) and was batting .431 with one home run and nine RBI.
Jacob Wright was batting .429 with a .536 on-base percentage, 10 RBI, 10 runs and a team-high 11 walks. Matt Shapiro was hitting .281 with 10 RBI and 11 runs.
Boys tennis team wraps up league play
The boys tennis team completed its MSL-Ohio schedule by losing to Wellington 5-0 on April 25.
The Lions finished 4-2 in the league and were 7-2 overall before playing Olentangy on April 30.
Bexley defeated Dublin Coffman 3-2 on April 25. Christian Roddy won at first singles, Jordan Koppes won at second singles and Leo Schottenstein and Aaron Young won at first doubles.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball and boys tennis teams:
May 4 -- Home vs. Granville
May 9 -- At Licking Valley
*May 3 -- At DeSales
May 5 -- Home vs. Westerville North
May 8 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
May 5 -- At Westerville South (DH)
May 8 -- Home vs. 15th-seeded Licking Valley in first round of Division II district tournament. Winner plays 14th-seeded London in second round May 10 at home of better seed. The Lions are seeded 11th.
May 3 -- At Olentangy Liberty
May 4 -- St. Charles at Columbus School for Girls
May 8 -- Home vs. Pickerington North