In a feat that Reo Ogundare even considered improbable, the Westerville South High School senior vaulted his way into his first Division I state meet.
Ogundare finished fourth in the pole vault (14 feet, 4 inches) in the regional meet May 23 at Pickerington North. He will compete at state Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
After failing on his first two attempts at 14-4, Ogundare easily cleared the bar on his third to secure the state berth.
"If you would have told me before the season I would make it to state, I would have said you're joshing or playing around, but I made it," Ogundare said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to put in some work this week on this new pole and try to get more familiar with it. I'm looking for some surprises this week."
Ogundare arrived at regional about 15 minutes before the event was scheduled to start because of an AP computer science test and after three warm-up jumps began competing.
"He's as cool as a cucumber," pole vault coach Jimmy Hull said. "For as inexperienced as he is at these meets, he seems to be the one that is always smiling. ... He has shown a very good side of composure that I really like."
Hull credits hard work and studying the event as keys to Ogundare's success.
"Reo was going 10 feet indoors then just started getting higher and higher," Hull said. "He credits a lot of it to video watching and to matching his with other jumpers in the area, and now I can say he's in the top 16 in the state of Ohio."
The top four finishers in each field event at regional advanced to state.
Senior George-Sedgewick Patil accounted for the boys team's other two points at regional, which concluded May 25, as he finished seventh in the 300-meter hurdles (39.66 seconds).
South tied Westerville North and Marysville for 23rd (7 points) behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
Sophomore Josephine Appiah accounted for the girls team's only two points by finishing seventh in the high jump (5-1). The Wildcats tied for 28th behind champion Gahanna (84) as 32 teams scored.
Senior Kayla Silva was 11th in the 100 (12.55).
The top four finishers in each running event advanced to state, which begins Friday, June 1. Also, for the first time, two at-large state berths were awarded for each running event based on times statewide.
Girls lacrosse coach pleased with season
The girls lacrosse team finished 4-14 overall under first-year coach Wynleux Henderson.
Seeded 14th in the Division I, Region 1 tournament, the Wildcats lost to ninth-seeded Westerville North 15-4 in the first round May 14.
"I am very pleased with the progress the program made over a short period of time," Henderson said. "Our goal as a coaching staff and team was to engage in consistent action, constantly improve throughout the year and compete. In order to do so, the entire program had to re-learn how to perform in the classroom, in practice, before, during and after games. We are headed in the right direction."
Junior Jaylen Berdin led South in scoring with 26 goals, followed by freshman Carizjah Wright with 20 and sophomore Jordan Pettway with 19. Berdin was honorable mention all-OCC-Buckeye Division.
South went 0-7 in the league to finish eighth behind New Albany (7-0), Olentangy Liberty (6-1), Olentangy (5-2), Olentangy Orange (4-3), North (3-4), Westerville Central (2-5) and Big Walnut (1-6).
"As expected with taking over and rebuilding a program, we experienced some adversity throughout the season, and it's easy to get hung up on wins and losses," Henderson said. "Our girls have improved as student-athletes, we are competing at a higher level and we were able to win games this year, which is a step in the right direction."