The Westerville Central High School girls track and field team has a new look this spring, and coach Ryan Borland is prepared for the challenge.
Despite losing three successful distance runners to graduation, Borland believes the Warhawks still have the potential to reach their goals.
Chloe Ey, McKenna Fry and Sydney Kapral capped their prep careers by helping the 3,200-meter relay finish seventh in the Division I state meet last season in a program-record 9 minutes, 4.39 seconds.
"We're pretty young overall and we're definitely sprint heavy," said Borland, who is in his 11th season. "It's a different team than what we've had in the last few years, but by the end of the year it could be a pretty good one. We've had good balance, but we had those three superstar distance kids and (2018 graduate) Savannah (Hall) was a really good sprinter last year."
Junior Kayla Jones (400, 800, relays) was part of the 3,200 relay and is one of several key returnees.
Also at state, Fry finished fourth in the 1,600 (program-record 4:54.9). She also holds program records in the 3,200 (11:24.9) and in cross country (18:10), while Kapral holds the program record in the 800 (2:13.92).
Junior Mabinty Kebe (hurdles, 1,600 relay) ran a program-record 43.9 in the 300 hurdles while finishing third at state. She also holds the top mark in the 100 hurdles (15.02).
Senior Kendall Allen (long jump, sprints, relays) is looking forward to a strong season as she seeks her first state berth.
"I didn't expect these four years to go this fast and I'm trying to cherish every moment now," Allen said. "(Qualifying for state) would mean everything to me."
Senior Lyssa Zepfel has the program record in the 400 (1:23.01) in the seated division.
Other key returnees are senior Gianna Brooks (pole vault, long jump), junior Juliet Bernard (throws, high jump) and sophomores Ashley Hockstok (distance), Moriah Johnson (sprints) and Skylar Themelaras (sprints).
Freshman Tara Will (distance) also should contribute.
Central finished second (82.46) of 13 teams in the Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays on April 6 at Sparta Highland behind host Big Walnut (89.44).
"It's been a fun challenge because we have some young distance kids who I think are going to be decent and I'm real excited about our young sprinters," Borland said. "Mabinty, our hurdler, is looking really good."
Sprinters expected to lead boys track team
The boys track team should be led by senior Dymon Gainey (sprints) and junior Rickey Hyatt Jr. (sprints, hurdles, long jump). They were members of the sixth-place 1,600 relay (3:20.89) in the Division I state meet last season.
The relay, which included 2018 graduates Luke Finnegan and Nathan Schroeder, set the program record of 3:19.18 at regional.
Senior Tyrone Johnson (sprints) returns after battling a hamstring injury last season. Other key returnees are seniors Erice Bonner Jr. (sprints, long jump), Dontay Hunter II (throws) and Devon Richardson (throws), juniors Steven Hartley (sprints), D.J. Johnson (sprints) and Myles Williamson (sprints) and sophomore Haden Fulkerson (distance). Senior LaBronz Davis II (sprints) and sophomore Tasos Cook (sprints) also should contribute.
"Our numbers continue to be pretty good for our program," said coach Jason Loughman, who is in his 16th season. "We have about 70 boys out. We have a good core of guys back from last year who all either have district, regional of even state meet experience. With that core group of guys, along with some new faces and freshmen, I think we can take a step further than where we were last year."
Central (75.99) won the 13-team Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays, finishing ahead of second-place Worthington Kilbourne (70.97).
Boys tennis squad features 'solid group'
After opening with a 4-1 win over Mount Vernon on April 1, the boys tennis team looked to snap a three-match losing streak when it began OCC-Buckeye Division play April 9 against Westerville North.
Central returns five players, including senior Cory Blankenship at first singles. Also back are senior Lakshan Suthanthira, junior Krish Nair and sophomores Will Arnett and Michael Weiler.
Sophomore Dipendra Kami, a move-in from Abilene, Texas, has been playing second singles, and freshman Nick Buehler has played second doubles with Weiler.
Other players are senior Brandt Gebbie and juniors Ted Lau and Robert Boyd.
"I like this group," said coach Brian Arnett, who is in his 16th season. "It's a solid group top to bottom. There's not a whole lot of drop off one through 10, so that gives us some options. We just have to try to find ways to get wins at the top of the lineup."
Winners against Mount Vernon were Kami 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 at second singles, Arnett 6-0, 6-1 at third singles, Suthanthira and Nair 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles and Weiler and Buehler 6-2, 6-0 at second doubles.
Suthanthira and Nair won 7-6, 0-6, 10-5 at first doubles in a 4-1 loss to Hilliard Bradley on April 3.
Boys volleyball team opens on positive note
The boys volleyball team is hoping to improve on its 15-9 record from a season ago.
The Warhawks opened by defeating North 21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20 on April 4 in an OCC-Buckeye match.
Central played its second match April 9 against league-foe Olentangy Orange.
Coach Jimi Yu, who is in his 11th season, believes the Warhawks can contend for the league title. They were 4-6 in the league last year.
"I do think we have a shot, but it's not easy," he said. "Olentangy is not an easy team to take down. They're always consistent and Orange still has a lot of talent."
Junior middle hitter Ryan Kannenwischer was honorable mention all-region and all-league last season.
Also back are seniors Stephen Gerardi (setter), Maxwell James (libero) and Will Latham (middle hitter) and juniors Aidan Flannery (outside hitter), Richard Marple (right-side hitter) and Justin Wade (outside hitter). Senior Simon Bouscher-Helbig (middle hitter), who is 6-foot-5 and played on the boys basketball team, is in his first season.
Yu is being assisted by former Westerville South coach Vicki Phillips. She coached the Wildcats for four seasons and joined Central after the South program was disbanded because of a lack of players.
Girls basketball coach steps down
Jim Morgan, who helped rejuvenate the girls basketball program, has stepped down after two seasons as coach.
"I submitted my resignation to spend more time with family," Morgan said. "It was a difficult decision."
After going 1-22 in 2016-17, the Warhawks went 15-8 in Morgan's first season and 10-14 this past season. Central went 9-11 in the OCC-Buckeye over the two seasons.
"I do feel we are leaving the program in better shape than when we arrived and that is a tribute to the kids and staff all buying in and working hard," Morgan said. "We had great senior leadership these past two years and were able to put the program back to a competitive level. I'm thankful I was able to play a small part in turning it around."
Before leading the War-hawks, Morgan went 15-31 in two seasons at Delaware. The Pacers went 10-13 in his second season after going 5-18 in his first.
Athletics director Andy Ey credits Morgan for turning around the Central program.
"It's certainly in a lot better place than it was when he got here," Ey said. "We had good things going, so hopefully whoever comes in can build on that and keep it going."
Below are the coming schedules for the Central baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
April 11 -- Home vs. St. Charles
*April 12 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
April 13 -- Home vs. Watterson
*April 15 -- At Orange
*April 17 -- Home vs. Olentangy
*April 11 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
April 13 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*April 16 -- At Westerville North
*April 11 -- At Big Walnut
*April 15 -- Home vs. North
*April 11 -- At Orange
April 13 -- At Bloom-Carroll with Waverly
*April 15 -- At Olentangy
*April 17 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
*April 11 -- At Orange
April 12 -- At Groveport
*April 16 -- At Olentangy
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- New Albany Invitational
April 15 -- At Thomas Worthington
*April 11 -- At Olentangy
*April 16 -- Home vs. Liberty
April 17 -- At Chillicothe