Winning team championships hasn't been the focus the last two weeks for the Worthington Christian High School boys track and field team.
What it means for the Warriors to have captured district and regional titles, though, isn't something that athletes such as senior Jake Bertelsen are taking lightly.
"It's a pretty big deal for us," Bertelsen said. "We have a pretty strong senior class, especially for the guys. We've been together for a few years and, from the start, we've been a cut above the crop."
Worthington Christian will be well represented at the Division III state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
The Warriors, whose previous district championship came in 1993, earned their first regional title since 1994 when they scored 70 points on May 23 and 25 at Fairfield Union to edge runner-up Columbus Academy (65) as 35 teams scored.
"At the district and regional meets, our focus is advancing our athletes, not winning titles," coach Rod Zody said. "So it's a great tribute to the talent and competitiveness of our athletes that they could win the district and regional titles without us loading them up to do so."
The 3,200-meter relay of Bertelsen, senior brothers Kyle Smith and Luke Smith and junior Taylor Vallangeon opened the regional meet May 23 by finishing first in 8 minutes, 7.52 seconds.
Then on May 25, Jackson won the 400 (49.63) and earning runner-up finishes were Bertelsen in the 3,200 (9:37.71), Kyle Smith in the 800 (1:57.43) and the 1,600 relay of senior Ethan Crary, Jackson, Kyle Smith and Luke Smith (3:24.99).
Placing third were Jackson in the 200 (22.3) and senior Seth Parsell in the discus (141 feet), and Bertelsen placed fourth in the 1,600 (4:33.37) as the top four finishers in each regional event automatically qualified for state.
Vallangeon added a fifth-place finish in the 3,200 (9:45.28) and earned an at-large state berth.
Also competing at regional were the 400 relay of Crary, sophomore Montell Edwards and juniors Michael King and Kanyin Oladejo-Lawal (sixth, 44.88), Luke Smith in the 800 (seventh, 2:04.76), Crary in the 200 (eighth, 23.15), Edwards in the 100 (ninth, 11.65) and the 800 relay of Crary, Edwards, Jackson and King (disqualified).
Last season, the Warriors placed 17th in the Division II state meet as the 3,200 relay of the same runners who made state this season captured the championship.
Jackson, who placed fourth in the 400 at state last season, enters this year's state meet with the second-fastest qualifying time. The 3,200 relay has the third-fastest qualifying time, while Bertelsen in the 3,200 and the 1,600 relay have the fourth-fastest qualifying times.
Girls sprinters also prepping for state
The girls track and field team will be represented in the Division III state meet in four events.
The 800 relay of seniors Emily Hall and Emma Kasich and sophomores Ashley Hall and Mianna Hartings head into the state meet after finishing first (1:47.16) at regional at Fairfield Union.
The same foursome placed third in the 400 relay (51.45), while Ashley Hall also qualified in both the 200 (third, 25.92) and 100 (fourth, 12.6).
Last season at state, the Hall sisters, Hartings and Kasich placed seventh in the 800 relay and 12th in the 400 relay.
The Warriors scored 27 points at regional to finish eighth behind champion Mount Gilead (62) as 50 teams scored.
"The girls placed third at the district and eighth at the regional with some outstanding performances," Zody said. "Ashley Hall qualified for the state meet in four events. Our sprint relays qualified again this year. Emma Kasich has now (qualified for) four straight state meets."
Also competing at regional were Emily Hall in the long jump (11th, 15-7) and freshman Oyinda Oladejo-Lawal in the high jump (11th, 4-10).