The Westerville Central High School girls track and field team will attempt to build on a program-best performance in the Division I regional meet when it competes at state Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
The Warhawks qualified for state in seven events. Also, Leah Schultz and Lyssa Zepfel will compete in the seated division.
Central placed a program-best third at regional, which concluded May 25 at Pickerington North. The Warhawks (46 points) finished behind Gahanna (84) and Pickerington Central (50) as 32 teams scored.
"I'm very proud of how our girls competed," coach Ryan Borland said. "We have always been a very good team late in the season, but this group is special. I'm very excited to see what they can do (this) week."
For senior Savannah Hall, competing at state will cap what has been a strong four-year career. She established a program record of 12.09 seconds during the preliminaries of the 100 meters and finished third (12.37) to earn a state berth.
Hall also anchored the 400 relay, which finished third in 48.29. She was joined by Moriah Johnson, Princella Ackon and Delaney Reed.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to state. Also, for the first time, two at-large state berths were awarded for each running event based on times statewide.
"I'm just proud of my team," Hall said. "I'm glad we made it. We're going to kill it. We're going to get better handoffs. We're going to win. ... There's still room for improvement. We can get better times. We can be the best that we can be. I'm excited."
McKenna Fry was second in the 1,600 (4:58.38) and joined Sydney Kapral, Kayla Jones and Chloe Ey on the fourth-place 3,200 relay (9:06.52).
"You just want to advance," Fry said. "I was happy with my performance. I'm looking forward to (this) week. I'm going to lay it out there. When I cross that finish line, I hope I'm puking and falling over the line. That means I gave it my all."
Mabinty Kebe was third in the 300 hurdles (44.4) and sixth in the 100 hurdles (15.38).
"It's amazing just to get (to state) with all the hard work I've put in all season," said Kebe, who is a sophomore. "I have to get out hard and run my best race."
Kapral was fifth in the 800 (2:13.92) and joined Ey, Jones and Kebe to finish fifth in the 1,600 relay (3:55.42). Both times were good for at-large berths.
Kendall Allen was sixth in the long jump (17 feet, 1 3/4 inches), Gianna Brooks was eighth in the pole vault (10-4), Allen, Johnson, Chiedza Guyo and Ackon were 10th in the 800 relay (1:45.52), Ey was 12th in the 800 (2:20.02) and Juliet Bernard was 15th in the shot put (33-1 1/2).
For the boys team at regional, Luke Finnegan won the 400 (48.02), was fourth in the 200 (22.07) and joined Nathan Schroeder, Dymon Gainey and Rickey Hyatt on the third-place the 1,600 relay (3:19.18).
"I expected people next to me that I'd have to race in the home stretch," said Finnegan, who pulled away near the end of the 400. "I'm better at the 400, but I prefer the 200. It saves the legs."
Hyatt was sixth in the 300 hurdles (39.5) and 10th in the 110 hurdles (15.15), Devon Richardson was sixth in the discus (142-1), Schroeder, Finnegan, D.J. Johnson and Hyatt were eighth in the 800 relay (1:33.66), Austin Smith, Gainey, Joshua South and Sam Reyes were eighth in the 3,200 relay (8:00.92) and Smith was 10th in the 1,600 (4:28.43).
The Warhawks finished seventh (29) behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
Softball team falls in regional semifinal
The softball team saw its season end with an 8-4 loss to Teays Valley in a Division I regional semifinal May 23 at Ohio State.
The Warhawks had a 10-game winning streak snapped and finished 18-10. Teays Valley went on to defeat Olentangy 9-5 in the regional final May 26.
Central fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning. Avrey Schumacher hit an RBI double in the bottom of the inning, but Teays Valley added three runs in the second and one in the third.
Kylie Collins had an RBI single in the sixth and Lily Linke had an RBI double in the seventh for the Warhawks.
"(Teays Valley is) a good hitting team," Central coach Brian Wamsley said. "The way they hit early, I thought we may need to make a change. Sydney (Stepp) was pitching well. Sometimes you have to tip your hat. Those kids from Teays Valley hit the ball well. They're a solid team."
Baseball coach likes team's work ethic
Baseball coach Jeff Keifer was pleased with the attitude and commitment he saw from his team, which finished 13-15 overall.
"It might have been the most enjoyable group to be around as a coach," Keifer said. "They worked exceedingly hard and they just have great attitudes. Every day when we went to practice or games, they were always positive."
Seeded 24th for the Division I district tournament, the Warhawks defeated 48th-seeded Whitehall 11-1 in six innings May 7 at home before losing at 10th-seeded Pickerington Central 9-1 in the second round May 9.
Senior Dax Mickley (OF) hit .387, followed by senior Michael Sherry (.375, INF), junior Camron Hubble (.364, C/P/INF) and senior Noah Ring (.309, P/OF).
Mickley also led in RBI with 18. Hubble and junior Niko George (P/INF/OF) each had 15 RBI.
Hubble and Mickley were named first-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division, senior Matt Keifer (INF/P) was second-team all-league, Ring was special mention all-league and George was honorable mention all-league.
Hubble was first-team all-district and Mickley was honorable mention all-district.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Tyler Ashbaugh (INF/P), Brett Dahman (C/INF/P), Zach Glorioso (C/OF), Nate Lawrence (OF/P) and Jake Yaussy (INF/P) and sophomore Jace Jarvis (OF).
The Warhawks went 6-9 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish fourth behind Olentangy Liberty (14-1), Olentangy (11-4) and Olentangy Orange (7-8) and ahead of Westerville North (4-11) and Westerville South (3-12).