The depth the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys track and field team possesses in its sprint relays paid off with a pair of championships in the Division I state meet June 2 at Ohio State.
The 800-meter relay of senior Joseph Gathuru, juniors Alex Drenski and LaCarr Trent and senior anchor Jerome Buckner captured the title in 1 minute, 25.99 seconds.
About 35 minutes later, the 400 relay of Drenski, Trent, Gathuru and Buckner ran 41.79 to edge Springfield (41.8) for another championship.
After junior Jayden Hill ran on the 800 relay in the preliminary June 1, Trent was inserted into the final. It was the only time all season that Trent ran on the relay with Buckner, even though they were the Lions' top two competitors in the event this spring.
Buckner wasn't able to compete in the regional final of the 100 or 200 or with the 800 relay May 25 at Pickerington North because of an injury that occurred while running in the 200 preliminary May 23.
"We've been so blessed that we haven't had to run Jerome and LaCarr in the (800 relay) together all year," coach Shawn Johnston said. "LaCarr is a huge piece in the back stretch, so we wanted to keep him as fresh as we can. He's been held to three races all postseason and (June 2) was the first day (he competed in) four."
Trent came up short in his bid for the 100 state title, placing second (10.75) for the second consecutive season. He then was ninth in the 200 (22.87).
Gahanna totaled 28 points to place fourth behind champion Pickerington Central (58) as 69 teams scored.
"I'm disappointed yet I'm happy," Trent said. "Second (in the 100) is not what you want, obviously, but in the end I told my teammates on the relays that they helped me get there. I'm down and they helped pick me up a lot. With that (800 relay) and the (400 relay), let's just focus. I appreciate them a lot."
Buckner closed his prep career with five relay state titles. He ran at Columbus Academy in his first two seasons and helped the Vikings win the 1,600 relay as a freshman and the 800 relay as a sophomore.
Then last season, Buckner, Gathuru and Trent joined 2017 graduate Jayvonta Tolliver on the 400 relay that was a state runner-up, and Buckner and Gathuru ran on the first-place 1,600 relay with Tolliver and 2017 graduate Dontae Deas.
"It's just a blessing to be in my last meet with my boys," Buckner said. "It's a talented team that works hard."
Also competing at state was sophomore A'Che Sanchez-Baccus, who was 16th in the shot put (48 feet, 6 3/4 inches).
"It was cool," Sanchez-Baccus said. "My form was better and I was stronger (this season)."
The Lions' alternate on the relays was junior Lee Bennett, a transfer from Groveport who ran in the regional final of the 800 relay with Drenski, Gathuru and Hill and the 400 relay with Drenski, Gathuru and Trent. The 400 relay was first (41.92) and the 800 relay was third (1:27.79).
Gahanna scored 108 points to finish second in the OCC-Ohio Division meet that concluded May 12 at Dublin Coffman, behind Central (166) and ahead of Lancaster (94), North (76), Reynoldsburg (44) and Grove City (33).
Then in the district 2 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, the Lions scored 109 points to capture the title. They were third (48) at regional behind Central (97) and Olentangy Orange (60.5) as 41 teams scored.
Also competing at regional were the 3,200 relay of senior Tyler Story, sophomores Riley Jackson and Caleb Shovlin and freshman Donovan Hight (11th, 8:14.1), junior Kelly Wilson in the 110 hurdles (fifth, 14.58) and 300 hurdles (ninth, 39.64), the 1,600 relay of Drenski, Gathuru, Hill and senior Davion Bryan (sixth, 3:21.51) and senior Cameron Riddle in the shot put (11th, 48-3 3/4).
Others eligible to return include junior Evan Pfeifer (middle distance), sophomores Julio Deliotte (middle distance), Kylan Kaylor (high jump) and Jamal Williams (long jump) and freshmen Mondra Curry (long jump), Steffano Molina (distance), Mitchell Soma (high jump).