The Westland High School boys track and field team entered the Division I, district 3 meet May 16 at Hilliard Darby looking to give its underclassmen some valuable experience in the throws while hoping to see senior Trent Bott extend his prep career.
Bott, who qualified for regional last season in the shot put, failed to earn a return trip in his final district meet.
He reached the district finals in the shot put, finishing seventh with a top effort of 44 feet, 11 1/2 inches. Big Walnut's Brandon Mosher finished first (55-8).
"I'm glad that Trent made (the) finals," coach Tim Eckard said. "We always like to hear Westland in a finals event in a big meet. I'm thankful for his four years. He scored a bunch of points for us. He's probably one of the most talented kids I've ever coached, so I'm thankful for all the points he gave us throughout his four years."
Bott, who will play football at the University of Findlay, opened district by finishing 21st in the discus (109-2) as the top nine competitors in three flights advanced to the finals. Mosher won the title (168-9).
The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional Wednesday, May 23, and Friday, May 25, at Pickerington North.
In his lone regional appearance, Bott fouled on all three attempts in the shot put last season.
Also at district, Caleb McManaway finished 18th in the discus (116-9) and Andrew Sherman finished 21st in the shot put with a personal-best 35-6 1/2. Both are juniors.
"I love to see (personal records) in the district meet like Andrew did," Eckard said. "He's coming back. Caleb is coming back, so there's a lot to build on from this meet. Every chance you get to throw and compete and run in a big meet, it just makes you better and better going forward and that's what you look for every meet -- did the team get better or worse -- and I think we got better."
It was the first district meet for McManaway.
"It's a lot different from the league meet because you have more high-caliber talent than you would have at a league meet," he said.
"There's a big gap between good and great, and there are a lot of great throwers here. It's a good experience to see everybody else throw the way they throw. It's nice to see how they throw to learn technique-wise what I could do more soundly."
Also for the Cougars, Abdi Aden was eighth (19-11) and Levi Rains was 16th (19-2 1/4) in the long jump.
Westland continued district competition with the running event preliminaries May 17. The running finals were held May 19.
The girls team opened the district 2 meet May 15. Aja Nathans, Kaela Ponce, Vicky Barete and Stephanie Buruca were seventh in the 3,200-meter relay (11 minutes, 15.35 seconds) and Arryanna Redd was 23rd in the long jump (13-1/4)
Laura Ornelas finished 29th (26-1 1/4) and Katelyn France was 30th (22-4 1/4) in the shot put.
Baseball coach looks for commitment
Baseball coach Neil Bittel stressed to his underclassmen that their commitment must begin in the offseason if they hope to improve on this season's 4-20 finish.
"If they want to make the jump that they all talk about they have to start working on baseball right now," Bittel said. "For a lot of our guys baseball is only a two- or three-month sport and it's not going to work when you're playing against guys who play for 12 months and were playing baseball together growing up.
"I'm encouraging my guys to show up for offseason workouts and to participate in summer ball. We're going to coach them. They just have to show up."
Seeded 45th for the Division I district tournament, Westland lost at 15th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 5-0 in the first round May 7.
Junior Zach Mon (SS/P) batted .375 with a team-best 16 runs and 12 RBI and was named first-team all-OCC-Central Division.
"Obviously, Zach is going to be our anchor again, but we have some kids who are hopefully going to be able to step up to the plate," Bittel said. "We had some younger guys play this year. We just have to find where they fit in best for us."
The Cougars lose five seniors, including Nick Worthington (P/1B/3B), who batted .319 with nine RBI. Senior Tyler Gibson (1B/3B) batted .289 and was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return are juniors Billy Holland (P/OF), Bryce Murray (SS/OF), Ryan Perez (OF), Braden Schoppert (3B/2B/P) and Bradlee Swenson (3B/2B), sophomores Kyle Bowles (2B/SS/P), Trey Holmes, (2B/OF) and Nevada Swackhammer (OF) and freshmen Drew Curtiss (C/P) and Brenden Gordon (2B/SS/P).
Westland went 0-15 in the OCC-Central to finish sixth behind Hilliard Davidson (13-2), Upper Arlington (10-5), Marysville (9-6), Dublin Coffman (8-7) and Central Crossing (5-10).