Korbin Martino had a longer night than he expected during the Milt Will Invitational on April 27, but the freshman for the Canal Winchester High School boys track and field team was only fulfilling his end of a bet.
Martino agreed that if teammate Will Butler ran the 800-meters in less than two minutes, he would take Butler's place in the 1,600 relay to end the night.
Butler almost reached that time, placing second in 2 minutes, .37 seconds, but Martino still ran and helped the relay to third place (3:33.23).
Martino was exhausted after having also placed second in the 400 (51.58) and sixth in the 200 (23.68), but he considers it part of his job description in helping replenish a sprinting corps that is trying to replace last year's 100 and 400 Division I state champion and 200 state runner-up in Lonzell Feagin, who now runs for the University of Pittsburgh.
So far, the sprinters like where they are headed with the OCC-Capital Division meet looming next week.
"I didn't think we'd be this successful," Martino said. "We have big shoes to fill. (Coach Kurtis Robinson) was telling us it's going to be a team effort. One guy will not come in and score 60 points. It will be all of us contributing toward hopefully another OCC (-Capital) title. I tell my guys that I'm just as excited to be in the (800 relay) as to be in the open 400. We come out here as a team.
"A lot of guys are starting to shine. Some of the older guys who might not have gotten opportunities last year because we had such a powerhouse team are really shining. Even being a freshman, I've gotten a chance to help out, but I'm excited for what's in store. We can do something special."
Zack Akarri, Gibby Cornett, Dom Davis, Christian Ryan, Dakota Smith, Torrance Thomas and Tyler Toledo are among the other sprinters who have helped Canal Winchester record top-three finishes in their past three invitationals.
The Indians scored 101 points in the eight-team Milt Will Invitational, the program's annual home invitational since 1959, to finish second behind Pickerington North (143).
Thomas (16.11) and Davis (16.29) were second and third, respectively, in the 100, while Thomas placed second in the 300 hurdles (42.51) and the 800 relay of Cornett, Ryan, Smith and Toledo was second (1:33.68).
Cornett, a junior who finished fourth in the 200 (23.34) in the meet, said he has put "unfair pressure" on himself to succeed.
"I feel like I have a responsibility to run a lot faster, and that's unfair pressure on me, but I think I'm on track to run PRs at the (league) meet," Cornett said. "(The pressure) is a good thing and a bad thing. You don't want to be a sprinter running with pressure. That will get in your head and end bad. But if you run light, run loose and run with a little less stuff on your shoulders, you'll be surprised how much better you do."
Toledo thinks the sprinters' depth will lead to increased scoring down the road. The Indians compete in the Hilliard Bradley Invitational on Friday, May 4, before the league meet May 10 and 12 at Olentangy Orange.
"Nobody is dominant. We have three really good runners. Instead of one great runner to get first, we have three who can give us even more points," said Toledo, who has run the 100, 200, 400 relay and 800 relay and has been competing in the pole vault. "Korbin has been killing it. That's been huge. All around, we're doing better than people are expecting."
The girls team finished second (104) in the Milt Will Invitational behind North (154).
Erica Babusci won the high jump (5 feet) and 300 hurdles (47.83) and Shalea Byrd was second in the long jump (15-8) and 200 (27.33).
The Indians hope to get back injured Ariana Coleman before the league meet. Coleman has not competed since the Newark Invitational on March 31 but said last week she hopes to participate in the meet at Bradley.
Boys tennis coach shakes up lineup
Boys tennis coach Doug Welsh is sure he's found the best courts for his players to succeed, although he occasionally juggles the lineup as the postseason approaches.
Corey Berner and Jake Chapman saw time at doubles last week when the Indians split two matches, and Welsh also has promoted Mason Saunders from junior varsity to play doubles on occasion and plans to do so again as the regular season winds down.
Connor Clark, Jeremy Irby and Caden Sweeney have continued to anchor the Indians from first to third singles, respectively. Canal Winchester was 4-4 overall before playing Central Crossing on April 30 and finished 2-3 in the OCC-Capital with a 5-0 loss to New Albany on April 25.
The Indians defeated Grandview 4-1 on April 26.
"This team has more experience (than last year's) and it's been easier to settle in on where the talents of these guys give them their best chance to succeed," Welsh said. "We want to give guys chances in a few spots, almost like a look to the future but while we make sure we're still focused on the rest of this season. A lot of it is getting the younger guys used to the pace of varsity matches, seeing balls hit hard at them, getting to balls on the run and the speed of the game altogether. They are competing really well."
Saunders has played singles in several junior varsity matches. Vinny Caskey also has played singles and doubles on j.v.
The Indians have three scheduled matches remaining, beginning with their home finale Thursday, May 3, against Bloom-Carroll. Division I sectional tournament play begins May 10.
"A big thing I've noticed as much as our experience is that we're stronger physically," Welsh said. "We're hanging with teams we haven't hung with in the past. That's a good indicator of where we're heading."
Baseball team faced crucial week
The baseball team entered the week two games behind OCC-Capital co-leaders Big Walnut and New Albany, but had a chance to move up the standings with consecutive games against New Albany on May 2 and Thursday, May 3.
The Indians went 1-2 in three league games last week, losing to Newark 14-4 on April 23 and Big Walnut 6-2 on April 26 before edging Groveport 3-2 on April 27. Reece Klamorick threw a complete game in the win, striking out five and allowing four hits.
Canal Winchester was 12-7 overall and 7-4 in the OCC-Capital before playing Franklin Heights on April 30. Big Walnut defeated New Albany 2-1 in nine innings April 27 to pull into a first-place tie at 9-2.
The Indians, who lost to Olentangy Liberty 4-1 on April 28, found out their postseason path at the Division I district tournament draw April 29.
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*May 3 -- Home vs. New Albany in makeup from April 24. The Indians lost to the Eagles 4-0 on April 18.
*May 4 -- At Newark. The Indians defeated the Wildcats 7-1 on April 19 and lost 14-4 on April 23.
May 9 -- Home vs. 19th-seeded PIckerington North or 33rd-seeded Chillicothe in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The Indians are seeded 13th.
May 3 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
May 4 -- At Fisher Catholic
May 9 -- At sixth-seeded Gahanna in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays fourth-seeded Groveport, 26th-seeded Olentangy Orange or 31st-seeded DeSales in district semifinal May 14. The Indians are seeded 34th.
May 3 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
May 4 -- At Lancaster in makeup from April 3
May 8 -- At Whitehall
TRACK & FIELD
May 4 -- Hilliard Bradley Invitational