Dublin Scioto High School girls track and field coach Stacey Schall had a basic goal as she began her third season.
"My goal is to make all of (the athletes) better and when we do that, then we're successful," she said. "Each coach probably has a couple of athletes that they would like to get (to state), but we don't focus on that right now."
The Irish competed in the 16-team Stingel Invitational on April 6 at Pickerington North, scoring 36 points to tie Reynoldsburg for seventh behind champion Olentangy Orange (135).
Scioto returns its only Division I state qualifier from last season in junior Folake Olujide-Ajibade, who finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles in a program-record 14.69 seconds. Olujide-Ajibade, who also competes in sprints and throws, was the Irish's first state qualifier since their 400 relay in 2013.
Olujide-Ajibade won both the 100 hurdles (14.56) and 300 hurdles (46.76) in the Stingel Invitational.
Among the other key returnees are junior Foluke Olujide-Ajibade, who joined her twin sister on the sixth-place 800 relay (1:42.81) at regional last season, and sophomore Audrey Bannister, who was 10th at regional in the 3,200 (11:39.95).
"Audrey has natural talent and she's coachable," Schall said. "She's always happy, always positive. She's great. She brings the team up and helps encourage everybody else."
Other key returnees include seniors Lauren Chapman (distance) and Nena Hayes (hurdles, relays), juniors Marlae Davis (sprints, 400) and Alexandra Kasson (long jump) and sophomore Meg Tysen (sprints).
Kasson placed third in the long jump (15 feet, 9 1/2 inches) at the Stingel Invitational.
Hayes is hoping to better her top time of 15.7 in the 100 hurdles.
"I'm happy," Hayes said. "I'm really proud of my (personal-record) and my goal this year is to beat it. I'm really determined to do that."
Schall expects freshmen Ayva Leon (hurdles) and Talara Wilson (sprints) to be key contributors.
"They're all working hard," Schall said. "I like what I see from a lot of the freshmen. There's a lot of fight, a lot of good effort."
Boys track coach sees potential
Boys track and field coach Kevin Foley believes his team has the potential to have a special season.
"It's not unattainable," Foley said of qualifying athletes for state. "It's realistic. We have about six or seven guys who can make it."
Scioto did not have any Division I state qualifiers last season.
A key contributor should be senior Max Eveland, who placed seventh (13-8) at regional in the pole vault last season.
"We've had a great start," Eveland said. "We have a lot new talent on the team and I'm excited that it's my senior year. I hope I get a shot at state. I've been working hard for four years and I'll see if it pays off."
Among other key returnees are sophomore Trevor Page, who was a member of the fifth-place 3,200 relay (7:57.15) at regional last year, and senior Eric Holsinger, who was ninth in the 100 (11.08) at regional.
"Eric is healthy for the first time in a long time," said Foley, who is in his 24th season. "He's had hamstring issues for two years, but he's healthy and we're thrilled."
Other key returnees include senior Zach Sopher (high jump), juniors Yousef Alchahal (throws), Vince Bernard (hurdles), Mohamed Freeman (sprints), Donovan Hardin (throws), Logan Rich (hurdles, relays) and Nick Wolfe (throws) and sophomores Ali Latif (distance), Xavier Lopes (sprints, high jump), Kevin McCray (sprints, high jump) and Vernon Williams (throws).
Foley expects sophomore Zion Freeman-Walker (sprints, jumps) and freshman Hiromu Maki (sprints) to also have an impact.
"We have good numbers, which I'm really happy with," Foley said. "We're happy with the effort that the kids are putting into it. They're doing what we're asking and that's all you can really ask for."
The Irish finished ninth (24.75) of 16 teams in the Stingel Invitational, behind champion Pickerington Central (111.75).
Lopes placed second in the high jump (6-2) and Holsinger was fourth in the 100 (11.39).
Boys tennis team has new coach
The boys tennis team has a new coach in Sean Gilbert, who replaced Mike Wrigley during the offseason.
Wrigley resigned after 23 seasons.
Gilbert, who served as junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant last season, is pleased with the growth of the program. The Irish have 25 players in their program this season after having 15 a year ago.
"Our numbers are up, which is a great thing for the program," said Gilbert, who also coaches the girls team. "With all the young guys we have, the more experience they can get, the better off the program will be now and in the future. I am excited about where the program is and where it is going."
The Irish opened April 4 with a 3-2 loss at Delaware in an OCC-Cardinal match.
Senior Joey Randazzio and junior Jonathan Steinke won 6-3, 6-2 at first doubles and sophomores Anutam Srinivasan and Visvam Srinivasan won 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 at second doubles.
"The conference is going to be very competitive this year, as it always is," said Gilbert, whose team improved to 1-1 with a 4-1 win over Reynoldsburg on April 8. "We already played a solid team in Delaware. We've got our work cut out for us in the league, but with improved play and more consistency, we should be in a position to make each conference match competitive."
Senior Santhusht Prasad is playing first singles, senior Conner Page is at second singles and senior Dylan Mathess is at third singles.
Sophomore Daniel Han and freshmen Moksh Desai and Saivikas Jallipalli also should contribute.
"I have been impressed and very proud of the leadership the seniors have shown," Gilbert said.
"They're definitely leading by example through their play, their effort and attitude. These guys are doing the things seniors need to do to put the program in a position to be successful."
Boys volleyball team seeks improvement
Third-year boys volleyball coach Doug Arden hopes his team can improve on last season, when it finished 4-16 overall and 3-9 in the OCC-Cardinal.
The Irish opened with a pair of wins, but had lost three consecutive matches and were 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Worthington Kilbourne on April 8.
"We're still pretty young and not very experienced, but more experienced than last year," Arden said. "We see this as building from last year."
In league play, Scioto defeated Olentangy Berlin 25-21, 25-27, 25-12, 25-18 on March 28 and Delaware 25-9, 20-25, 25-17, 25-14 on April 2 and lost to Hilliard Darby 25-12, 25-19, 25-13 on April 4.
"Darby is as good a team that you're going to play," Arden said. "I'm sure everybody would look at Darby as the (league) favorite. Every year we want to be as competitive as we can in the OCC. It's the bulk of our season."
Leading the returnees are junior outside hitter Dedar Mergaye, who was named second-team all-region and all-league last season, and senior libero Cameron Gastaldo, who was honorable mention all-region.
Also back are juniors Jonathan Heasley (setter) and Riley Passias (outside hitter).
Others on the team are seniors Daoud Al-Akhras (defensive specialist), Ben Bolyard (middle hitter), McKeon Killen (outside hitter) and Ryan Sheeran (right-side hitter) and juniors Shaker Aljafari (middle hitter), Angel Campa (middle hitter), Joseph Matter (right-side hitter) and Gabriel Wilson (middle hitter).
Below are the coming schedules for the Scioto baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 12 -- At Delaware
April 13 -- Home vs. Groveport (DH)
*April 15 -- Home vs. Delaware
*April 17 -- At Hilliard Darby
*April 11 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
April 13 -- At Wadsworth
*April 16 -- At Thomas Worthington
*April 11 -- At Berlin
April 13 -- Loveland and Wooster in Hannigan Galipault Tournament at Thomas
*April 16 -- Home vs. Thomas
*April 11 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
April 13 -- Home vs. London and New Albany
*April 15 -- At Jerome
April 16 -- Home vs. Utica
*April 17 -- At Berlin. The Irish defeated the Bears 15-7 on April 1.
*April 11 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
April 15 -- Home vs. Watterson
*April 16 -- At Thomas
TRACK & FIELD
April 13 -- Joe Lenge Dublin Classic at Coffman
*April 11 -- Home vs. Bradley
*April 16 -- At Jerome