Of the six members of the Reynoldsburg High School boys track and field team who advanced to the Division I regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North, none were seniors.
That relative inexperience caused a few anxious moments during the regular season, but it also provides evidence of squad's upward curve.
The Raiders entered this season with just one athlete who had experience at last year's state meet in junior Dionte Roddy, as well as a junior who competed in the indoor state meet in March in Lance Gauthney.
"I'm really happy with what we've done," Roddy said. "We've shown a lot of improvement and have come a long way. We didn't have a lot of experience heading into the season and just had a lot of underclassmen. It's shown up at the perfect time."
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
After the 400-meter relay that included Roddy was third at state last season, the Raiders struggled with exchanges in the event during the district 2 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby and settled for sixth as the top four advanced.
Moving on to regional were the 1,600 relay, which featured Gauthney, Roddy and sophomores Muhammed Fall and Doniven Jackson, and the 800 relay of Jackson, Roddy and juniors Keyshawn Brown and Camby Goff.
Gauthney entered the regional as a district champion in the 400, and the 1,600 relay also finished first. Fall also made it to regional in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
The Raiders were sixth at last year's regional as 2017 graduates J.J. Cooper and Travis Marx led the way.
Fall also was a regional qualifier in the 300 hurdles last season.
"Our goal was to get all three of the relays (to regional) so I was certainly disappointed when the (400 relay) got sixth (at district)," coach Richard Ladowitz said. "We had a couple bad exchanges, which is atypical of Reynoldsburg sprinters. We kind of pride ourselves in our (400 relay). It was nice to at least get two out of those three relays out. The staple of Reynoldsburg track is our sprint corps. Lance Gauthney has put a couple nice races together and I don't think we've seen his best race yet."
Ladowitz also was hoping senior James Hickman would advance to regional in either the high jump or long jump, but he got injured the day before he was set to compete at district.
Girls track team also competes at regional
The girls track team competed in three events at regional.
Senior Nia Amerson was a district runner-up in the discus (112 feet, 9 inches) and entered the regional May 25 with the eighth-best throw among the 16 competitors.
Also competing were sophomore Jessica Ricks in the 100 hurdles and the 1,600 relay of senior Sherita Ingram, juniors Bre Johnson and Tayla Lee and freshman Adja Mbow.
The Raiders' time in the 1,600 relay (4 minutes, 8.73 seconds) was the 12th best heading into the regional, while Ricks' time of 15.39 was the fourth best.
During preliminary races May 23, the 1,600 relay finished 12th (4:12.64) to fall short of advancing to the final.
Boys volleyball team takes another step
Facing an upgraded schedule and competing in a league for the first time, the boys volleyball team improved by three victories in its second season.
Also of note to coach Matt Bailey is that two of his players have committed to college programs.
The Raiders lose an eight-member senior class after going 5-18 overall, with seniors Aidan Hauter and Gabe Donaldson committing to Wittenberg and Mount Union, respectively.
"I'm going to rely heavily on my (returning) upperclassmen to recruit their fellow students to give us a try," Bailey said. "We want to try to promote the game of volleyball and how fun it is, and also that there's a possibility in getting college scholarship money out of it."
The Raiders went 0-12 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish behind Hilliard Davidson (10-2), Gahanna (9-3), Dublin Coffman (6-6), Pickerington North (6-6), Upper Arlington (6-6) and Pickerington Central (5-7).
They were seeded 17th for the Division I East Region tournament and opened with a 25-23, 28-26, 25-22 loss to 18th-seeded Westerville South on May 18 at Darby.
During the regular season, Donaldson (opposite hitter) led the Raiders in kills with 88 and Hauter (outside hitter/setter) had 51 kills. Senior Tanner Wooddell (middle hitter) led in serving aces (27), digs (123) and serves received (288), and Hauter led in assists (114).
Alex Kelley (setter), Ethan Miller (defensive specialist), Alec'Zaire Myers (opposite hitter) and TaJah Reynolds (outside hitter) also were key seniors.
Donaldson made second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, and Hauter was honorable mention all-league.
Eligible to return are juniors Jaimar Carson (defensive specialist), Boyd Davis (middle hitter), Hobo Gudeta (defensive specialist) and Bryce Jenkins (middle hitter) and sophomore Donovan Travis (middle hitter).
Jenkins transferred from Licking Heights and sat out the first half of the season.
"(Jenkins will) be a very integral part of our team next year," Bailey said. "We're looking for big things from him. Boyd Davis is another who I expect big things from. We're going to have to do a lot of recruiting because we only have five kids returning.
"We won the games we should have, and each time we played our opponents the second time, we ended up bettering our performance from the first time we played them. We had a lot of officials, coaches and spectators come to us and say, 'Wow, what an improvement since last year.' That goes to show you how it can work in Reynoldsburg. With kids that want to dedicate themselves and work hard, it can work here."