The Bexley High School girls track and field team has won the MSL-Ohio Division title two of the past three seasons, and coach Jamie Hayes is optimistic about what could happen this spring.
The Lions have a mix of veteran upperclassmen, experienced underclassmen and talented newcomers that could steer the team toward another league championship and perhaps more.
"I'm excited about what we have this year and our numbers," said Hayes, who is in her eighth season. "We have around 50 girls, which helps create depth in a lot of events. We have an exciting mix of veterans, newcomers and freshmen that could really help us."
The Lions lost talented 2018 graduates such as Molly Fagin, who finished eighth in the 3,200 meters (11 minutes, 21.32 seconds) in the Division II state meet last spring.
Fagin, who now runs at Ohio State, also was on the 16th-place 3,200 relay (9:51.79) with junior Caroline Bunker and sophomores Karleigh Place and Maria Steinke.
"We have some sophomores who have some big-meet experience already," Hayes said. "Caroline Bunker is so versatile for us, being able to run anywhere from the 100 to the 800. She ran at state last year and she should have a good season, especially in the relays. She loves the team aspect of running the relays."
The Lions also are strong in the throws with senior Freddie Collins and junior Nya Harris. Collins started the season by breaking her own program record in the discus with a throw of 120 feet, 10 inches in the inaugural Jeff Schneider Invitational on March 29 at home. It broke her previous record of 118-8 set when she won the league title last year.
"It was pretty great to break the record because there was a lot of emotion and it was very memorable," Collins said. "I think we can do pretty well as a team this year. Coach Hayes really does believe in us, and we have some big goals this year."
Hayes calls senior sprinter Margaux Harding "the heart of our relays." Junior Lucy Powers is a top competitor in the long jump and also runs three relays: the 400, 800 and 1,600. Sophomore Selah Foster was the team's top hurdler last season, and sophomore Ryann Donahey has experience in relays.
Senior Allison Hoyer is a sprinter/middle distance performer, and freshman Claire MacDonald leads a young distance corps that includes Place, Steinke and sophomore Hannah Hayden.
"We have a lot of depth and some new kids that could help us," Hayes said. "One of those is sophomore Nadja Falke, who is an exchange student from Germany. She can run the hurdles, do the high and long jumps and even run on the (1,600 relay). She could be a big help."
Youth dominates boys track team
Eighth-year boys track coach Shane Roberts has a roster of 52 athletes, but most are freshmen and sophomores.
"We have 52 kids, which is up because we finished with like 45 last year," he said. "Two-thirds of our team is freshmen and sophomores.
"Our best area is hard work, and distance is probably our deepest area. It's so early, though, and we're young. We're trying to compete against the grown men on other teams."
Leading the way are seniors Alexander Garside (jumps, sprints, relays) and Ed Schoedinger (sprints, relays) and junior Patrick Beck (sprints, relays).
"I lean on those three guys pretty heavily to make sure the young guys follow in line at meets," Roberts said. "They are returning guys and know what to do to prepare to compete and what we expect."
Garside, senior Grant Halliday and sophomore Spencer Stevenson are returning Division II regional qualifiers. The Lions did not have a state competitor last year.
Halliday and Stevenson were on the eighth-place 3,200 relay (8:09.9) with 2018 graduates Grant Heilman and Zander Hirsch. Garside was 15th in the long jump (18-10).
Garside leads the long-jumpers, with senior Spencer Graham and freshman Tucker Harpe in the high jump. Junior Hunter Johnson leads the throwers.
Junior Miles Feinknopf leads the distance runners but also can drop down to the 400, if needed.
The Lions have a young group of hurdlers in sophomores William Petry and William Ross and freshman Tarun Rai.
"Ultimately our goal is to get to state (at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium) and we haven't made it the past couple of years, but we have been close," Roberts said. "You go through ebbs and flows as a program. It's hard pulling from all the sports we have in the spring and we're not a big school.
"Getting to state is our goal, and that's why I have been closing my e-mails (with) #GetToJesse. Our goal is to be better when we leave than when we walk in, and we just have to keep doing that."
Boys tennis squad returns entire lineup
Sixth-year coach Mark Liefeld has high expectations for the boys tennis team, which returns all seven starters from last season when it finished 13-3 overall and 4-2 in the MSL-Ohio.
Seniors Christian Roddy and Jordan Koppes are back in the top two singles spots, respectively, and senior Leo Schottenstein has moved up to third singles after playing doubles for two seasons.
Junior Nolan Winston has moved to doubles from third singles and will be in the mix to play with senior Aaron Young, junior Thibault Knox-Kelly, sophomore Will Meyer and freshman Duncan Johnson.
"We have all seven starters back from last year and we have a freshman who is on varsity," Liefeld said. "We have Christian and Jordan back in singles and Leo Schottenstein wanted to move up and try (singles), so we have a good 1-2-3 on the singles courts."
Last spring, Roddy and Schottenstein lost in a state-qualifying doubles match in the Division II district tournament. Knox-Kelly and Young lost their opening doubles match at district.
"We have a lot of experience, and we have some really good athletes on this team," Liefeld said. "There are kids who only play tennis and there are kids who are athletic and can compete very well. Aaron Young and Leo Schottenstein just out came out of basketball and Christian Roddy also plays soccer. ... We're fortunate to have some good athletes.
"Our seniors have played at a high level for a while. All four played in our (Division II state) team championship lineup two years ago. It's nice to have that experience to bank on."
Bexley was 4-1 after beating St. Charles 3-2 on April 8. The Lions lost to Upper Arlington 3-2 on March 27 before defeating Lancaster 5-0 on March 28, Reynoldsburg 5-0 on April 1 and Watterson 3-2 on April 4.
The MSL-Ohio schedule begins Tuesday, April 16, at Worthington Christian.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 13 -- Home vs. Zanesville
*April 15 -- Home vs. Grandview
*April 17 -- At Grandview
April 15 -- At Buckeye Valley
*April 11 -- At Granville
April 13 -- At Westerville North
*April 16 -- At Columbus School for Girls
April 11 -- Home vs. Buckeye Valley
*April 15 -- At Whitehall. The Lions defeated the Rams 10-9 on April 3.
*April 17 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
April 15 -- At Westerville North
*April 16 -- At Worthington Christian
April 17 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- Russ Owen Bexley Relays
April 16 -- Home vs. International and Tree of Life