Senior Ben Dankow got to experience the state meet for the first time for the Hartley High School boys track and field team June 1 and 2 at Ohio State as part of the 800-meter relay as well as in an individual event.
He wouldn't be surprised, though, if his teammates on the relay make getting to state a habit.
Dankow teamed with sophomore Miles Fleming and freshmen Kason Sunderland and Cameron Thomas to finish third (1 minute, 29.54 seconds) at state in Division II after reaching regional a year ago as a member of the 1,600 relay.
The 800 relay entered state as the seventh seed and in the preliminaries, with senior Elijah Carter running in place of Dankow, the Hawks posted the seventh-best time (1:29.69).
"It feels awesome," Dankow said. "Last year, we made it to regional prelims (in the 1,600 relay), but this is a whole new environment. It's awesome. This relay is so young with two freshmen and a sophomore. They've got a lot of room to grow and I can see them getting a lot better in the future."
Fleming also competed at state in two individual events, placing eighth in the 100 (11.06) and 13th in the 200 (22.45) as Hartley scored seven points to tie for 28th behind champion Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (51) as 71 teams scored.
Dankow added an 11th-place finish in the 400 (50.31) and the 400 relay of Dankow, Fleming, Sunderland and Thomas was disqualified in preliminaries.
"I'm proud to be here in this environment," Fleming said. "Thanks to (my teammates) for pushing me all season.
"It felt good (to place in the 100). I've still got to work on my start a little bit, but I still felt like I did pretty well."
Dankow advanced to state individually after taking third (49.6) at the regional meet May 24 and 26 at Lexington.
"I didn't run the way I wanted to (at state) and was a second slower than my (personal-best time), but it's OK. I'm just happy I made it," Dankow said. "It's a great experience that I'll never forget."
The Hawks finished third (44) at regional behind Sandusky Perkins (70) and Shelby (54) as 45 teams scored.
Fleming was runner-up in the 100 (11.02) and placed third in the 200 (22.12), the 800 relay finished first (1:29.57) and the 400 relay was third (43.55).
Also competing at regional were Dankow in the long jump (no distance), senior Chase Rawlins in the high jump (eighth, 6 feet, 1 inch) and 800 (ninth, 2:00.47), junior Patrick Scurlock in the 110 hurdles (sixth, 15.41) and 300 hurdles (eighth, 42.7), Sunderland in the 100 (10th, 11.37) and the 1,600 relay of Dankow, Rawlins, Scurlock and junior T.J. Johnson (sixth, 3:28.53).
Hartley placed third (113) in the CCL meet that concluded May 10, behind DeSales (138) and St. Charles (126) and ahead of Watterson (78) and Ready (33).
The Hawks then won the 12-team district 1 meet that concluded May 19 at Westerville North, scoring 120 points to finish ahead of runner-up Buckeye Valley (101).
Benjamin Ingraham Dwyer (hurdles) and Evan Vautour (distance) also were key seniors.
Others eligible to return include juniors Micah Slater (middle distance) and Christopher Wolf (middle distance), sophomores Kyle Caisaguano (distance), Deon Drake (discus, shot put), Cameron Jones (distance), Chase Orndorff (distance) and Juston Steward (middle distance) and freshmen Nick Chovan (discus), Matthew Franz (high jump, long jump) and Marcelis Parker (shot put).
Much of girls track team expected back
Of the 11 competitors who competed at the Division II regional meet for the girls track team, all but three are eligible to return.
The biggest loss to graduation will be Amaiah Jones, a two-time state competitor who teamed with senior Liana Burk, sophomore Bailey Smith and freshman England Ladd to finish ninth in the 400 relay (51.3) at regional.
The third senior who competed at regional was Rachael LeMay, who finished ninth in the 400 (1:03.49).
Hartley did not score at regional.
Also competing were Burk in the long jump (14th, 14-11), Ladd in the 200 (11th, 27.74), Smith in the 100 (14th, 13.21), junior Hannah Thompson in the 100 hurdles (11th, 17.0) and 300 hurdles (16th, 53.84), junior Bailee Zacovic in the 1,600 (12th, 5:54.95), sophomore Abby Rhodes in the long jump (11th, 15-4 3/4), sophomore Alexis Wade in the 100 (12th, 13.19), freshman Ellie Kitsmiller in the high jump (no height) and the 1,600 relay of Ladd, LeMay, Moore and junior Cara Luallen (14th, 4:18.52).
Hartley was runner-up (116) in the CCL meet, behind Watterson (175.5) and ahead of DeSales (107), Ready (47.5) and Columbus School for Girls (47).
Then at the 12-team district 2 meet at Westerville North, the Hawks scored 115 points to share the title with Jonathan Alder.
Others eligible to return include sophomores Chloe Dankow (high jump), Libby Erwin (discus, shot put) and Hope Matfield (discus, shot put) and freshmen Pailyn Groene (middle distance), Megan Luallen (middle distance), Julia Reinker (sprints) and Anna Woods (distance).
Baseball team made postseason run
Chris Sawyer believes the most appropriate description for the members of the baseball team he coached this season would be "overachievers."
The Hawks went 19-8 overall and won a Division II district championship to make their deepest postseason run since winning the Division IV state title in 1996.
"They're a bunch of great kids who refused to give up," said Sawyer, whose team lost to Dayton Chaminade Julienne 3-2 in a regional semifinal May 24 at Mason after beating DeSales 1-0 in a district final May 17 at Gahanna. "I'm very proud of their effort. The seniors were unbelievable leaders."
One of the seniors, Luke Rawlins (1B/P), had what Sawyer calls "the season of a lifetime."
Rawlins batted .542 with two home runs, 32 RBI, 25 runs scored and seven stolen bases and struck out 21 in 18 1/3 innings on the mound while going 5-for-5 in save opportunities. One of his saves came April 30 in a 14-10 victory over DeSales that helped the Hawks earn a share of the CCL championship.
Hartley went 6-2 in the CCL to tie the Stallions for first, ahead of Watterson (4-4), St. Charles (4-4) and Ready (0-8).
Senior Anthony Whitney (OF) had 19 runs and a team-best 15 stolen bases.
Juniors Phillip Cole (OF/2B/P), Jacob Culbertson (P/OF/1B), Thomas Mayhan (SS/P), Adam McVicker (OF/1B/P) and Josh Moore (2B/P) and sophomores Kylan Kortokrax (3B/P), Mason Sawyer (C/OF) and Matthew McElligott (P) should be among the key returnees next season.
Cole hit .463 with three home runs, 36 runs, 24 RBI and 12 stolen bases, Sawyer batted .400 with two home runs, 22 RBI and 16 runs, McVicker had two home runs, 17 RBI and 27 runs and Mayhan scored 21 runs.
On the mound, Culbertson went 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings, Kortokrax was 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 36 1/3 innings and McElligott was 1-0 with a 2.72 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 36 innings.
McVicker was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
Rawlins was named first-team all-district and a Mizuno all-Ohio alternate, while Cole and Sawyer were second-team all-district.
Hartley was seeded sixth in the district tournament and defeated seventh-seeded Buckeye Valley 10-0 on May 10 and fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder 4-0 on May 16 before beating second-seeded DeSales to win the district title. McElligott and Rawlins combined to throw a no-hitter against the Stallions.
"We have a lot of kids coming back," coach Sawyer said. "The whole pitching rotation other than Luke is back. Mason had a great year, too."