The Delaware Hayes High School girls track and field team is looking for some young athletes to step up this season after losing two Division I state qualifiers to graduation.

"We have a good group of leaders of all ages," 14th-year coach Andy Graham said. "Our kids get along and push each other to do their best. We have some young kids that will help score for the team, filling in for some of the voids left behind by our graduates."

Junior Ari Avant returns after placing fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (15.33 seconds) at regional last season, falling one spot shy of a state berth. She also placed seventh at regional in the 300 hurdles (school-record 45.27).

"Ari is a returning school-record holder in both hurdle races," Graham said. "She is a hard worker and should compete with the very best in the state in her hurdle races."

The Pacers were represented at state last season by 2018 graduates Tori Young and Madeline Hayes. Young placed eighth in the 400 (57.46), while Hayes tied for 10th in the pole vault (11 feet) after setting the school record by clearing 11-4 at regional.

Also at regional, the 800 relay of Avant, Young, 2018 graduate Lauren McMillin and junior Sydney McMillin placed seventh in a school-record 1:43.73. Sydney McMillin did not return this season.

Avant was the OCC-Cardinal Division champion in the 300 hurdles last season and Hayes won the league title in the pole vault.

Expected to join Avant in the hurdles are sophomore Caylee Combs and freshmen Taylor Brown and Ashley Lipsey. Joining Avant in the sprints are seniors Alison Alsup and Judy Rodgers, junior Caitlin Carter, sophomores Mckenzie Hayes and Megan Reid and freshman Hannah Halstead.

Senior Emily Gray returns to lead the Pacers in the middle-distance events and likely will be aided by junior Mary Beth Zimmerman and sophomore Ally Gray, while sophomores Lauren English and Jordan Rutherford and freshmen Miranda Gemberling and Hayli Marsh lead a young distance corps.

"Emily has been leading our mid-distance program since her freshman year," Graham said. "We're expecting her to have her best season yet."

In the field events, seniors Maisy Johnson and Mac Knodell and sophomore Kelsie Keeder are the team's top throwers, while Carter, Halstead and sophomores Rena Ouyang and Karli Theis will lead in the jumps.

"Mac and Maisy are two fantastic senior leaders for our throws program and want to see everyone around them be successful," Graham said. "You won't find a better duo to set good examples for the younger throwers. We are really hoping for the best for them both."

Competing in the pole vault are Keeder and junior Becca Young.

The Pacers opened March 30 by placing 10th (33 points) in the 15-team Newark Invitational, behind champion Olentangy Orange (132).

Avant won the 100 hurdles (16.24) and 300 hurdles (48.02), Emily Gray placed third in the 400 (1:04.57), Halstead was sixth in the long jump (14-7 3/4), Knodell finished seventh in the discus (85-6) and Rodgers was seventh in the 400 (1:06.44).

Boys track team to see 'which athletes rise'

The boys track and field team had only two Division I regional qualifiers and finished last in the OCC-Cardinal meet last year, but third-year coach Sean Patrick is expecting more balance and better results this season.

"We have a hard-working team and I think we will have contributions from all event areas in terms of points scored and team leadership," Patrick said. "I am really looking forward to watching our athletes compete and to see which athletes rise to leadership roles as the season progresses.

"We feel that this season could prove to be a continued step in the right direction for the program, where we find ourselves achieving the results we have been working toward over the past few seasons."

Sophomore Orion Ward returns after placing ninth at regional in the long jump (20-5). The Pacers' other regional qualifier was 2018 graduate Todd Toney in the discus.

Ward also is expected to lead the team in the hurdles and be one of its top sprinters.

In the Newark Invitational, he placed second in the long jump (20-1 1/2), fourth in the 100 (11.43) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (42.47) and joined senior Jovan Rodriguez, junior Laquans Banks-Christian and sophomore Logan Hummel on the second-place 400 relay (44.97).

"Orion was a state qualifier this season indoors in the long jump," Patrick said. "He has the potential to continue his success outdoors in the jumps and hurdles, and he will be an important leader for our relays."

Ward placed 13th in the long jump (20-6 1/4) in the indoor state meet March 2 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva.

Providing depth in the hurdles are senior Colin McGrail and juniors Michael Berger and Colin McGrail, while also competing in the jumps are senior Raul Olvera, junior Nabil Abdusaalam and sophomore Logan Eubanks.

Senior Carter Covert and juniors Tom Henson and Aaron Koehler are expected to lead the team in the throws, and senior Brian Schuette and juniors Michael Berger and Jackson Patton are competing in the pole vault.

Patton placed fourth in the pole vault (10-6) in the Newark Invitational, as the Pacers finished 10th (30.5) of 16 teams, behind champion St. Charles (85).

"Jackson and Brian have both played important roles in our pole vault program over the past several years," Patrick said. "They challenge each other daily to be the best they can be. Carter is a positive leader who impacts our team by showing leadership through his commitment and also his interactions with the underclassmen."

Leading the sprint corps are Rodriguez, Hummel, senior Kael Gannon and juniors Derrick Brooks, Jahi Broussard-Nash and Aaron Koehler.

In the distance and middle-distance events, expected leaders include senior Max Draper, junior Brian Frisch, sophomore Padraig Mumper and freshmen Blake Frisch and Paolo Sferrella.

Boys tennis team starts strong

Juniors Kyle Klumpp and Sam Bonofiglio have returned to lead the boys tennis team, which finished 12-4 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal last season.

Klumpp advanced to the Division I district tournament in singles and went 17-5 last season.

"We have a strong junior class and our returning players continued to improve every part of their game (in the offseason)," sixth-year coach Richard Hunt said.

Also returning are juniors Will Fogle and Eric Puthoff and sophomore Jacob Byerly.

The Pacers were 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the league before facing Dublin Scioto on April 4.

Klumpp is playing first singles and Bonofiglio is at second singles, while Puthoff and freshman Ryder Kardas have rotated between third singles and first doubles, where they have teamed with Fogle.

Juniors Harrison Garling and Aidan Sarna and freshman Morgan Byerly have all seen time at second doubles.

Others looking to contribute are senior Jacob England, sophomore Carleton Beckham and freshmen Alex Gribben, Ryne Higgins, Josh Koch, Joe Molina and Alex Zoller.

"We had a good season last year and with this junior class, we're looking to build on that," Hunt said.

The Pacers opened March 25 with a 4-1 win over Mount Vernon. They then lost to Gahanna 3-2 on April 1 before beating Hilliard Darby 3-2 in their league opener April 2 and Big Walnut 3-2 on April 3.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:

BASEBALL

*April 8 -- At Hilliard Darby

*April 10 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

*April 12 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

April 13 -- At Buckeye Valley

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 9 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome

*April 11 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 9 -- At Dublin Jerome

*April 11 -- At Hilliard Darby

SOFTBALL

*April 8 -- At Hilliard Bradley

April 9 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

*April 10 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*April 11 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome

BOYS TENNIS

April 8 -- Home vs. Westerville South

*April 9 -- Home vs. Thomas Worth-ington

*April 11 -- At Hilliard Bradley

April 13 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Classic

TRACK & FIELD

April 9 -- At Marion Harding with Big Walnut

April 12 -- Chieftain Relays at Bellefontaine

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

*April 8 -- At Hilliard Bradley

*April 9 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*April 11 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome

*League contest