Senior Rehoboth Ogundare lacked a specialty when he joined the Westerville South High School boys track and field team as a freshman.
He first tried sprinting, but had little success. Pole vaulting always had piqued his interest, so at the start of his sophomore year, he decided to give it a try.
He has no regrets. In fact, he's now a district champion.
"I really liked the rush it gave me," Ogundare said. "It's kind of a thrill going up there and putting trust in something that shouldn't be trusted."
Ogundare earned a Division I regional berth by finishing first in the district 2 meet May 15 at Hilliard Darby. He matched his personal-best effort of 14 feet, 6 inches.
"This is totally unexpected," Ogundare said. "Last year, I was a 10-3 vaulter. I couldn't have dreamt that I could have made it this high in the past year. I put an inordinate amount of effort into it. ... I did a lot of indoor vaulting over the fall and through the winter and that really helped me get everything into order."
Ogundare, who is commonly referred to as "Reo," competed at regional May 23 at Pickerington North. The meet concludes Friday, May 25, and the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
Along with hoping to qualify for state, Ogundare is looking to eclipse the program record of 14-9, which was set by Jared McAllister in 1996. After securing the district title, Ogundare failed on all three attempts at 14-9.
At district, which concluded May 19, the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional.
Ogundare credits his success to instruction from coach Jimmy Gaul and pole vault coach Jimmy Hull.
"Over the course of four years, he found a home in the pole vault and he just kept working and getting better and better," Gaul said. "He was really starting to put it together at the end of last year and worked really hard over the summer and all winter long, and now he's the No. 2 vaulter in school history and making attempts at the school record and he's a district champion."
As a junior at district, Ogundare failed on all three attempts on the opening height of 10-0.
Hull also credits a training program in the offseason for Ogundare's drastic improvement.
"Reo has accepted the challenge and he really did a lot of hard work," Hull said. "He pounded the weight room. When he showed up three years ago, he was a really awkward moving young man, but over these last three to four years he's developed himself in all his strength ... and what helped him a lot was studying film of other vaulters compared to him, and he just got better and better."
Also advancing to regional was George-Sedgewick Patil, who finished second at district in the 300-meter hurdles in 39.52 seconds.
South finished seventh (41 points) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109).
For the girls team in the district 2 meet, Kayla Silva earned a regional berth by finishing third in the 100 (13.22) and Josephine Appiah advanced by placing fourth in the high jump (5-2).
Freshman Caroline Sheridan established a program record of 10-9 in the pole vault while finishing sixth. Beth Tompkins held the previous mark of 10-3 since 2001.
The Wildcats finished ninth (16.7) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164).
Guilhem competes at district tourney
Junior Raphael Guilhem, an exchange student from France, completed his lone year with the boys tennis program by going 1-1 in the Division I district tournament May 17 at Hilliard Bradley.
Guilhem defeated Pickerington North's Grant Schroeder 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 and then lost to New Albany's Robert Cash 6-0, 6-0. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state.
Cash, a junior who finished fourth at state last season, went on to win the district title.
"This was great," Guilhem said. "I want to go back to France, but if I could come back just for (next) season I would."
Guilhem finished second in the Upper Arlington sectional May 10 and 12, losing to Thomas Worthington's Kai Britz 6-0, 6-0 in the final.
"It's been awesome (having Guilhem on the team)," coach Ryan French said. "He's a great player (and) he had a great (postseason). He almost won sectional. ... He did really well at district, (but) he had a tough draw."
Along with Guilhem leaving the program, South will lose Chloe Meyers to graduation.
Sophomore Anthony Vilardo, who played first singles as a freshman before playing first doubles and second singles this season, should return to first singles next spring.
Sophomores Allen Liu and Quan Phan and freshman Adrian Self also are eligible to return.
The Wildcats finished 3-7 overall and went 1-4 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to tie Westerville Central and Westerville North for fourth behind Olentangy Orange (5-0), Olentangy (4-1) and Olentangy Liberty (3-2).
Baseball team endured close losses
The baseball team finished 5-22 overall, with six of the losses by one run and two by two runs.
"The record isn't what I anticipated, but we got snake-bit by one-run games," coach Tim Bates said. "There are eight games that possibly could have been turned around by a bloop and a blast."
South will lose six players to graduation, including Jaelen Gill (OF/SS/P), who was named first-team all-district and first-team all-OCC-Buckeye. Gill, who will play football at Ohio State, hit .346 with a team-high 21 runs.
Senior Jordan Orr (2B/P) was second-team all-league and honorable all-district after hitting .352 with a team-high 28 RBI.
Senior Eric Edman (C/P) was special mention all-league and junior Michael Dailey (3B/C/P) was honorable mention all-league. Dailey batted a team-best .383 with 17 runs and 16 RBI, and Edman hit .353 with 16 runs and 15 RBI.
Senior Daniel Hinz (2B/P) batted .353 and sophomore Jake Llaneza (SS/OF/P) hit .324 with 17 runs.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Seth Chrisman (INF/P), Kamron Hempy (1B/DH) and Jack Lovell (OF), sophomores Aiden Braxton (OF) and Keyton Kowalski (3B/OF) and freshmen Matthew Bame (OF/P) and Brayden White (C/P).
"The seniors did a great job," Bates said. "It was a great group to work with. A number of the seniors had career years."
South went 3-12 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish sixth behind Liberty (14-1), Olentangy (11-4), Orange (7-8), Central (6-9) and North (4-11).
Boys volleyball team loses in second round
The boys volleyball team split a pair of matches in the Division I East Region tournament, defeating 17th-seeded Reynoldsburg 25-23, 27-25, 25-21 in the first round May 18 and losing to third-seeded Hilliard Davidson 25-23, 28-26, 25-22 in the second round May 19, both at Darby.
The 18th-seeded Wildcats finished 5-12.