In just their first season running together on three relays, four Westland High School track and field athletes have their sights set on reaching the pinnacle of their sport.
Seniors Matt Bailey and Marcus Jones, junior Arty Washington and sophomore Kyle West have teamed up to form the boys team's 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays, and they have aspirations of qualifying in the 400 and 800 relays for the Division I state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
First things first, however, as coach Tim Eckard is worried about the relays getting to regional.
"The (400 and 800 relays), depending on how things shake out, they run a good time, they have a shot (to advance to regional)," Eckard said. "They're familiar with each other; they know the exchanges (and) they get the tendencies for each other."
The Cougars tuned up for the postseason by competing in the OCC-Central Division meet May 10 and 12 at Dublin Coffman.
Westland will compete in the 17-team district 3 meet Tuesday, May 15, Thursday, May 17, and Saturday, May 19, at Hilliard Darby, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to regional May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state.
The four turned in a season-best time of 45.8 seconds while finishing second in the 400 relay in the Best of the South-West meet April 13 at Central Crossing.
Bailey, Jones, West and Abdi Aden have a season-best time of 1:37.4 in the 800 relay while placing second in a quad meet April 10 at Grove City. Washington has since replaced Aden on the relay.
"This year we came together," Washington said. "It took us awhile to get the timing down, but I feel now that we have good chemistry. We have a goal to make it to regional and then try to go on after that. We have to get our handoffs down and all stay healthy."
After competing as a freshman, Bailey did not participate the past two seasons. This spring, he has been the anchor for the 400 and 800 relays.
"It almost felt like a perfect fit, it was like a glove," Bailey said of the two relays. "I think it's possible (to qualify for state). It's not out of the question at all."
Jones is in his first season with the program.
Senior Trent Bott is hoping for a return trip to regional after qualifying last season in the shot put but fouling on all three attempts. Bott also will compete in the discus at district.
"This is a good time of the year," Eckard said. "This is what all the hard work is for and hopefully you train it right so that everything peaks at the right time. I like this time of the year. Our goal is to get someone to regional. You have to get to regional before you can get to state, so hopefully we can get more than one to regional and then we'll see what happens."
Eckard hopes the girls team can finish strong with season-best efforts in the league and district meets.
"We want to be competitive and get personal records," Eckard said of the girls team. "Hopefully they run their best races and throw their furthest in the league and district. That's all you can do, throw your best and run your best and jump your best in the postseason. We knew from the start that it was a small girls team and there wasn't a lot of depth. This was expected."
The girls will compete in the 17-team district 2 meet Tuesday, May 15, Wednesday, May 16, and Saturday, May 19, at Darby, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to regional.
Baseball team falls to Bradley
The baseball team lost 5-0 at 15th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7.
Kyle Bowles and Zach Mon each singled for the Cougars' only hits.
"Obviously, one game in the (district tournament) is not our goal, but they're a team that was better than us. They had two good pitchers out there that shut us down."
The Cougars, who were seeded 45th, finished 4-20 overall and 0-15 in the OCC-Central.
Westland closed the regular season with home losses to Grandview (7-3 on May 3) and Central Crossing (12-3 on May 8).
Softball team loses at Mount Vernon
The softball team lost at 15th-seeded Mount Vernon 21-0 in five innings in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7.
The 43rd-seeded Cougars finished 3-16 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Central.