Kai Britz is excited that he will be joined at the Division I district tournament by three of his teammates from the Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team.
The junior advanced to district Thursday, May 17, at Hilliard Bradley and Saturday, May 19, at Upper Arlington by winning the singles title in a sectional held May 10 and 12 at UA.
"It's pretty awesome because I was the only one from our team to make it (to district) last year and now four of us will get this experience," Britz said. "The best thing is that all of us will be back again next season."
Joining Britz at district are freshman Will Newberry in singles and junior Aaron Zeller and sophomore Deep Gupta in doubles.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at district advance to the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Britz, who went 1-1 at district last season, was the top seed at sectional. He validated his seeding by going 5-0, not losing a game until the final. He breezed past Hamilton Township's Aaron Fitzsimmons, Dublin Scioto's Jonathan Steike, Columbus West's Ta'quin Webb and Newberry all by a 6-0, 6-0 score. In the final, he held off third-seeded Raphael Guilhem of Westerville South 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
"Kai made some errors in the first set, but overcame the deficit by playing one of his best matches of the season," coach Andrew Sinclair said. "As the top seed, after losing the first set, he faced a lot of pressure and he came through and I was proud of the way he played."
Newberry, who was unseeded, went 4-1 and placed third. He beat Marion Harding's Nathan Longstreth 6-0, 6-1, fourth-seeded Emerson Dean of UA 6-2, 6-3 and Scioto's Joe Hill 6-1, 6-1 to reach his semifinal against Britz. He then defeated second-seeded Elliot Jones of UA 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 in the third-place match.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.
"Newberry was the story of our sectional," Sinclair said. "He's a freshman who beat two seeds and both were from UA and he did it on their court with a partisan crowd cheering against him. UA is always the loudest place to play because they are loud and have a great tradition and a good following. It's unlike any place you ever play and the stands are right behind you.
"Will beat the fourth seed in straight sets and in the third-place match, he changed his strategy some because he could tell he was wearing (Jones) down. It was hot and Will saw (Jones) tiring and just kept putting balls in play and making (Jones) run. Will just wore him out."
Also in singles, Steve Jackman beat Marion Harding's Thomas Butler 6-0, 6-1 before losing to Jones 6-1, 6-0.
Zeller and Gupta were seeded third and went 3-1 and finished third. They defeated Scioto's Dylan Mathess and Connor Page 6-3, 6-1 and Whetstone's Louis Schirmer and Jared Brown 6-0, 6-0 before losing 6-2, 6-1 to second-seeded Paige Kompa and Nathan Yu of UA in a semifinal. They then defeated fourth-seeded Kunal Arya and Santhusht Prasad of Scioto 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 in the third-place match.
"Deep and Aaron lost nine games in a row after winning the first set (in their placement match), but roared back to win," Sinclair said. "They showed a ton of heart."
Also in doubles, JunSung Park and Ryley Briones defeated Athens' Josh Goetz and Danny Goetz 6-2, 6-3 and Whetstone's Armando Prince and Atticus Bulgrin 6-1, 6-0 before losing to Arya and Prasad 6-3, 6-2 in a district-qualifying match.
Girls track team places second in OCC
The girls track and field team fell short in its bid to upend Hilliard Darby's reign as OCC-Cardinal Division champion, as the Cardinals finished second (141 points) behind the Panthers (146.5) in the league meet May 10 and 12 at Dublin Coffman.
It was Darby's third consecutive league title.
Thomas, which won seven events, finished ahead of Scioto (116), Delaware (93), Dublin Jerome (63.5), Kilbourne (39.5) and Bradley (31.5).
Gia Napoleon and Carina Napoleon finished 1-2 in both the 800 and 1,600 meters. Gia won the 800 in 2 minutes, 18.5 seconds to edge Carina (2:19.12), while Carina won the 1,600 (5:06.67) ahead of Gia (5:12).
Both Gia and Carina were on the winning 3,200 relay (9:29.65) with Lydia Miller and Cassidy Shaver, and Carina also was on the winning 1,600 relay (4:03.43) with Allyicia Diggs-Hall, Jazmine Rodgers and Jazzlynn Gaiters.
Gaiters won the 400 (57.04) and joined Sarah Charley, Breanne Beatty and Diggs-Hall on the winning 800 relay (1:45.68). Also finishing first was Anasia Parks-Morris in the 200 (25.89).
The 400 relay of Curt'Lynn Garner, Susie Carter, Parks-Morris and TyLisha Roy finished second (50.68) and Beatty was second in the 300 hurdles (47.1) and third in the 100 hurdles (15.35). Also placing third were Charley in the long jump (16 feet, 6 inches) and Roy in the high jump (4-10).
The boys team finished third (104.5) in the league meet, behind Bradley (143.5) and Darby (128.5) and ahead of Jerome (98), Scioto (77.5), Kilbourne (42) and Delaware (35).
Arjun Jha won the 800 in a meet-record 1:55, holding of Darby's Malachai McGill (1:55.31), the defending Division I state champion.
Also winning titles were Andy Payne in the 3,200 (9:37.23) and the 1,600 relay of James Gaiters, Theory Schroder, Macario Etienne and Keegan Ballantyne (3:27.2).
Placing second were Payne in the 1,600 (4:19.95), Jha in the 3,200 (9:55.9) and the 3,200 relay of Ballantyne, Schroder, Payne and Jha (8:11.29). Finishing third were Allie Jalloh in the 200 (23.06) and Nate Johnson in the 3,200 (9:57.3), while Jamir Lewis tied for third in the high jump (5-10).
Both the boys and girls teams are competing in the Division I, district 1 meet this week at Darby. Running preliminaries were May 15, field events are Thursday, May 17, and running finals on Saturday, May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
Girls lacrosse team rolls past Firebirds
The third-seeded girls lacrosse team defeated 27th-seeded Kettering Fairmont 19-1 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament May 14 to improve to 14-4-1.
The Cardinals play host to fifth-seeded Coffman in the second round Friday, May 18.
The winner will play host to second-seeded Jerome or ninth-seeded Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal Monday, May 21.
The regional final is May 24.
Thomas closed the regular season by beating Watterson 11-6 on May 8 and Cincinnati Loveland 10-6 on May 12.
Boys lacrosse team begins postseason
The eighth-seeded boys lacrosse team was 4-13 before playing host to ninth-seeded Westerville North in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 15.
The winner plays at second-seeded Kilbourne or 14th-seeded Bradley in the second round Friday, May 18. That winner will play host to third-seeded New Albany, fourth-seeded St. Charles, 11th-seeded Pickerington Central or 12th-seeded Centerville in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 22.
The regional final is May 25.
The Cardinals lost three consecutive games to close the regular season, falling 11-9 to Hilliard Davidson on May 8, 17-7 to Saltsburg (Pennsylvania) Kiski Prep on May 11 and 16-10 to Pittsburgh Mount Lebanon on May 12.
Softball team should have experience back
The softball team finished 1-18 overall after losing to 23rd-seeded Coffman 11-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7.
The Cardinals, who were seeded 44th, are losing only three seniors in Marie Ashline (LF), Asia Settles (P) and Kylie Wadkowski (2B).
Thomas went 0-12 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish seventh, behind Delaware and Bradley (both 10-2), Darby (9-3), Jerome (6-6), Kilbourne (4-8) and Scioto (3-9).
Expected returnees include juniors Deven Howarth (1B), Trinatee Kaczmarczyk (OF/P), Maddy Sever (C), Carmen Staton (3B) and Taylor Viebranz (2B/P), sophomores Marika Johnson (CF) and Jillian Riegert (2B/P) and freshmen Terri DeTemple (C), Reid Dunbar (SS) and Alli Kiehl (RF).
Below is the coming schedule for the Thomas boys volleyball team:
May 18 -- At Olentangy vs. 15th-seeded Pickerington Central in first round of Division I East Region tournament.
Winner plays sixth-seeded Gahanna in quarterfinal May 19 at Olentangy.
That winner plays seventh-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 12th-seeded Dublin Coffman in semifinal May 22 at Olentangy.
The regional final is May 25 at Westerville Central.
The Cardinals are seeded 13th of 20 teams.