With only 19 athletes on the roster and just a handful of proven scorers, the Whetstone High School girls track and field team could be in a rebuilding mode after finishing second in the City League last season.
"This year's team is low on numbers," third-year coach Chris Lisi said. "Plus, we had some distance runners from last year who chose not to return. The few distance runners we have are all working through injuries, and our middle distance is also affected by the injury bug."
The Braves totaled 85 points in the City meet last season to finish behind Northland (101).
Returning to lead the team are seniors Mariyanna Lacy and Julia Carney and sophomores Julian Calderone, Jane Carney and Mira Dush.
Lacy and Dush were members of the 1,600-meter relay that placed sixth in the Division I, district 3 meet and won a City title. Joined by 2018 graduates Jamie Bossenbroek and Sofia McLemore, the relay finished in 4 minutes, 13.25 seconds at district, where the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional.
"Mariyanna is a positive leader willing to run any event to help her team," Lisi said. "She is versatile and can run anything from the 100 to the 800. Mira is our most versatile athlete. She can run anything from 100 up to the 1,600."
Bossenbroek was the Braves' lone regional qualifier a year ago, finishing ninth in the 300 hurdles (45.94).
"Our sprinters are our strength with Julia and (freshman) Mataya Stokes contributing with Mariyanna and Lacy," Lisi said. "Stokes can run the 100, 200 and 400. I love our versatility."
Carney also is expected to lead the team in hurdles and jumps, and freshman Jamie Thomas is expected to lead the Braves in throws.
"Julia continues to show great growth as a runner and leader," Lisi said. "She takes charge of many aspects of practice. She is a willing teacher to the younger athletes."
Others looking to contribute include senior Sagal Osman, juniors Hibo Hussein and EdithAnna Malley, sophomores Anashea Debraux, Isabella McCombs, Shelby Pyles, Sydney Stabreit, Micah Stromsoe, Marisa Tayal, Elizabeth Weis and Theodosia Yamano and freshman Madison Weaver.
Boys track team has some experience
Boys track and field coach Joe Monda is hoping the newcomers on his team will develop quickly alongside the returnees.
"We have a lot of new faces mixed in with some experience," said Monda, who is in his 27th season. "The key will be how the new faces develop and how healthy we can stay. With a small team, we cannot afford to have anyone out for any period of time."
Senior Emil Adams, juniors Ibrahim Bangura, Rashaun Broomfield, Chase Gibson and Hassan Sesay and sophomores Brack Dillon, Matthew Conroy and Thaine Nederveld are among the top returnees for the Braves, who finished fifth (53) in the City meet last season behind champion Eastmoor Academy (160).
Adams and Dillon were members of the 1,600 relay that placed 12th (3:27.14) in the Division I regional meet. They will be expected to lead the team in middle-distance events, while Dillon and Nederveld will lead the way in distance events.
"Emil and Brack will lead our mid-distance crew and both should play a major role in how our relays perform," Monda said. "Our strength will be our mid-distance and distance. Even though Thaine and Matthew are sophomores, they will hold their own in the distance races."
Broomfield, Sesay and Dillon are expected to be the Braves' top sprinters and senior Mathew Krupa-Gregory should lead the team in hurdles. Gibson is expected to lead the team in throws, while Bangura and Sesay should lead in jumps.
"Sesay is a three-sport athlete who will lead our sprint (runners) and high jumpers," Monda said. "We don't have a lot of depth, but it looks like we'll have some guys who can score in most events."
Girls lacrosse team continues to build
The second-year girls lacrosse program remains a work in progress.
The Braves went 0-9 in their inaugural season and were 0-4 this year before playing Marysville on April 2.
"We have 15 girls, which is two more than last year, but still only gives us three subs," second-year coach Kate Knisley said. "We're hoping to increase those numbers every year. We're still a new sport, so the girls aren't very comfortable and we're working on team commitment. The girls get upset by being crushed by other teams, but do not have the level of commitment other schools have.
"The girls aren't practicing in the offseason or taking advantage of summer camps and I even have some players skipping practices."
The Braves opened March 19 with a 16-2 loss to Hartley and fell to Olentangy Berlin 21-2 on March 21 before losing to Centennial 9-4 on March 26 and Delaware 13-2 on March 28.
"We are actually looking much better lately," Knisley said. "Umpires who were at our scrimmages have seen us in some games and made it a point to let me know they've seen growth."
The Braves have only one senior in goalkeeper Olivia Evans. According to Knisley, other top players include juniors Alea Millington-Fuqua and Olivia Mullins and sophomore Mia Howard-Stevens, who have been rotating between the midfield and attack, and freshman defender Alysia Swinehart.
"Alea has good speed and can catch the ball and Mia can get to the goal and she takes smart shots," Knisley said. "Mullins is aggressive and gives great effort and Evans has been saving over 50 percent of shots on goal."
Also contributing have been juniors Alyssa Proudfoot (attacker) and Ellis Scanlon-Kimura (defender), sophomores Elizabeth Martin (defender), Julianna May (attacker), Leslie Navarro (attacker), Lizbeth Osorio (attacker) and Marisa Salinas (attacker) and freshmen Lily Hoyt (midfielder), Ella Norris (defender) and Nezzie O'Malley (midfielder).
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone baseball, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
April 4 -- Home vs. Ready
*April 8 -- At Linden-McKinley
*April 10 -- At Centennial
April 9 -- At Wellington
April 4 -- At Olentangy Liberty
*April 5 -- Home vs. International
April 6 -- Home vs. Westland (DH)
*April 8 -- At Linden
*April 10 -- At Centennial
April 4 -- At Grandview
*April 5 -- Home vs. Linden
April 8 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
TRACK & FIELD
April 8 -- Home vs. Watterson
April 9 -- At Licking Heights