Maliyah Ellis and Naomi Walters are trying to carry on a tradition in the long jump for the Hilliard Darby High School girls track and field team.
Ellis won the event in 18 feet, 3/4 inches in the Olentangy Invitational on April 27 and Walters finished second (17-5 1/4).
"It feels like old times having two long-jumpers over 18 feet," said assistant coach Shanee' Jackson, who works with the long-jumpers. "Naomi had already gone 18-3 this season. We've had a number of great long-jumpers through the years, but several times we've had two great ones on the same team and you can rack up the points that way."
Jackson should know. A 2009 Darby graduate, she and 2008 graduate Tesia Dhiraprasiddhi formed a formidable duo in 2008.
"Chaquerra Allen, who set our school record (19-4 3/4 to finish first in the Division I state meet in 2004) also had a great jumping partner with (2003 graduate) Jaleena Banks," Jackson said. "It's easier when you can play off one another and push each other daily in practices and meets, and that's what Maliyah and Naomi do."
It also can be helpful if the two competitors are friends.
"We motivate each other, push each other, challenge each other and still support each other because we hang out away from the track as well," said Ellis, a junior. "We're pretty close. My goal is to keep climbing up my numbers to help us win our third straight league title and go as far as I can (in the postseason)."
Ellis and Walters also are sprinters who compete in the 100 and 200 meters and in the 400 and 800 relays.
"It's always nice to have someone that close to you as a teammate on the track," said Walters, a sophomore. "We can encourage each other and help each other stay focused. Our daily goal is to get better, our goal in every meet is to finish one-two and our goal for the season is for both of us to make it to state."
The girls team finished fourth (87 points) in the eight-team Olentangy Invitational behind the champion and host Braves (110), but did not have a complete roster because some athletes competed in the Huber Heights Wayne Invitational on April 26 and 27.
At Olentangy, the 800 relay of Zayna Hampton, Gabrielle Hammonds, Walters and Ellis finished first (1 minute, 47.37 seconds) and Liz Silva won in the shot put (33-3).
Finishing second were Stacia Rispress in the high jump (4-10), Abby Cannon in the 800 (2:26.17) and Anita Perie in the 3,200 (11:56.03).
"I think we have a real shot to make it to state in the (400 relay)," said Hampton, a sophomore who also runs the leadoff leg of the 800 relay. "We've got seven or eight girls in sprints, so we're deep and can put up great times in our sprint relays."
Rispress won the high jump (5-4) in the Wayne Invitational, where the Panthers placed 13th (24) of 45 teams, behind champion Gahanna (60.5). Emma Kowalski was first in the hammer throw (136-6) and placed fifth in the shot put (37-5 3/4).
"I want to break the high jump record so bad," Rispress said of trying to surpass her sister Briana's mark of 5-5 1/2 set in 2012. "I need to knock her out of the record books. As far as a team goal, we want to win the OCC title, and I think we have a chance to win our first district title."
The boys team finished eighth (35) in the Olentangy Invitational behind champion Olentangy Orange (107) and was 12th (27) of 43 teams in the Wayne Invitational.
At Olentangy, the 400 relay of Seveon Stewart, Jaeln Benjamin, Lucas Fratiane and Todd Pilkington (44.36) and the 3,200 relay of Jason Fleishman, Tyler Hessenauer, Matthew Imwalle and Tyler Stitzel (8:38.13) both placed second, and Paul Dillion placed third in the shot put (44-11).
In the Wayne meet, Dylan Litreal placed second in the hammer throw (177-8) and seventh in discus (150-100), Chris Burkhart was third in the hammer throw (164-3) and eighth in discus (147-8) and Michael Cornathan was fifth in hammer throw (147-8).
Baseball team defends OCC title
The baseball team had its nine-game winning streak snapped with a 7-6 loss to Bradley in 10 innings on April 30.
The Panthers fell to 17-4 overall and 9-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division ahead of the league finale May 2 at Bradley, but had already clinched the league title.
Darby is seeded second of 48 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 37th-seeded Northland or 42nd-seeded Logan in the second round Wednesday, May 9. The winner will play 14th-seeded Teays Valley, 21st-seeded St. Charles or 41st-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal May 14 at a neutral site to be determined.
The Panthers beat St. Charles twice during their winning streak, 5-4 on April 26 and 3-2 in nine innings on April 28.
Darby clinched the league title by sweeping Thomas Worthington, winning 6-0 on April 25 and 6-1 on April 27.
Leading the offense through 20 games were Mason Bowers (.432 batting average, 13 RBI), Brice Stultz (.397, 15 RBI), Ian Coverstone (.364, 17 runs scored), Ben Gbur (.343, 17 runs, 19 RBI, 5 doubles, 2 home runs), Tim Hales (15 RBI) and Tyler Chumita (13 RBI).
On the mound, Gbur was 6-0 with a 0.80 ERA in 35 innings, Stultz was 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, Chandler Barlow was 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 32 innings and Seth Schmidt was 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 14 innings.
Softball team seeks league championship
The softball team entered the week seeking the OCC-Cardinal championship.
The Panthers were 13-4 overall and 11-0 in the league after beating Thomas 19-1 on April 30 and before playing Delaware on May 1. They also played at Bradley on May 2 and will close league play at home against Bradley on Thursday, May 3.
Delaware and Bradley both had two league losses entering May 1 games.
Darby is seeded eighth of 46 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 16th-seeded Pickerington Central or 32nd-seeded Hamilton Township in the second round Wednesday, May 9.
The winner will face 11th-seeded Watkins Memorial, 27th-seeded Westerville North or 33rd-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district semifinal May 14 at a neutral site to be determined.
The Panthers swept Kilbourne in league play, winning 12-0 on April 6 and 15-0 on April 19.
Volleyball team earns another league title
The boys volleyball team has earned at least a share of its 19th consecutive league championship.
The Panthers improved to 10-0 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 25-18, 25-16, 25-22 win over Dublin Jerome on April 26 to clinch a share of the title. The second-place Celtics were 7-2 in the league before May 1.
Darby can secure the outright title by beating either visiting Thomas on Thursday, May 3, or host Bradley in the league finale Tuesday, May 8. A loss by Jerome in any of its three remaining league matches also would clinch the outright title for the Panthers.
Darby is 13-5 overall after going 1-2 in the Centerville Elite Tournament on April 28, losing to Cleveland St. Ignatius 25-17, 25-23, 25-19 and Clayton Northmont 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 and beating Davidson 25-12, 26-24, 25-15.
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
May 3 -- At Watterson
May 4 -- Home vs. DeSales
May 5 -- At Olentangy
May 4 -- Home vs. Toledo St. John's
May 8 -- Home vs. Marysville
May 3 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
May 8 -- At Bexley
*May 3 -- Home vs. Bradley
May 4 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
May 7 -- Home vs. Ready
TRACK & FIELD
May 4 -- Bradley Invitational
*May 3 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington. The Panthers beat the Cardinals 25-8, 25-12, 25-19 on April 12.
*May 8 -- At Bradley. The Panthers beat the Jaguars 25-13, 25-11, 25-20 on April 19.