One year after having the meet canceled because of a tornado warning, the Groveport Madison High School track and field teams finally played host to their inaugural Cruiser Invitational on April 13.
The boys team won eight events and totaled 128 points in the six-team meet to finish first, ahead of runner-up Canal Winchester (107).
"The boys came out strong and wanted to defend their home track," coach Vincent Gay said. "They walked away with the win and I think they showed they're ready for a special season."
Tahzmere Givens and Carl Allen led the way, as both were part of three winning events. Givens finished first in the 110-meter hurdles (16.19 seconds) and 300 hurdles (39.95) and joined Allen, Tyrell Floyd and Rafael Soler on the winning 1,600 relay (3:30.05).
Allen won the 400 (51.99) and also joined Kahari Davis, Naseem Bowers and Floyd on the winning 800 relay (1:32.43).
Other winners were Soler in the 800 (2:02.43), John Motton in the long jump (20 feet, 4 1/2 inches) and the 400 relay of Keimare Burnett, Davis, Motton and Bowers (44.88).
Harris Musungu was runner-up in both the high jump (5-6) and long jump (20-4 1/2) and Raychaun Whitfield placed third in the high jump (5-4).
"Tahzmere is just off the school record in the 300 hurdles and we're hitting a lot of (personal records) already this season and we're just getting better each week," Gay said. "It all starts in practice where everyone is digging in and getting better.
"It's fun because I'm struggling to come up with lineups, especially in the sprint relays. We can go 10 deep in the (400 and 800 relays) and we can go eight deep in the (1,600 relay). We're looking at all the combinations and trying to determine what works best and what that means to the open races. I really like the look of the (1,600 relay). They're a dangerous group."
The girls team finished third (115) of seven teams, behind co-champions Lancaster and Olentangy (131).
Madi Young finished first in the 400 (1:02.07) and was on the winning 800 relay with Atanna Gunnell, Chenise Smith and Emily Allen (1:47.69) and on the winning 1,600 relay with Smith, Gracia Musa and Victoria Williams (4:15.07).
The 400 relay of Gunnell, Allen, Makaila Boston and Emani Anthony also finished first (51.66).
Gunnell was runner-up in both the 100 (13.08) and 200 (27.35). Also placing second were Melanie Torres in the 3,200 (12:20.76), Isabella Burholt in the high jump (4-8) and Asya Mosely in the shot put (33-0).
Placing third were Mosley in the discus (95-1), Rokielle Donald in the 100 hurdles (18.35) and Smith in the 300 hurdles (50.12).
"What Madi did was impressive because she was under the weather and she won the 400 and helped us win the (800 and 1,600 relays)," Gay said. "That's an amazing day. Overall, our sprint relays looked very good.
"The girls also have been without Toni Woods, who was injured and has just been cleared to return. We're looking forward to having her back."
Gay is excited about giving the athletes another event in which to compete, as the Cruisers are competing in the pole vault for the first time since 2012.
"We didn't have an updated pit, so the event was dropped a while back," Gay said. "But the new track we got last year gave us the chance to include an updated pit and now we're competing in pole vault. We weren't able to practice in the pole vault in past years, so we don't have a lot of experience, but we're working on that now.
"Kalista Milne is a freshman who cleared the opening height (in the Cruiser Invitational) and finished fifth with a 7-6. Isabella Burholt also is competing in pole vault. Since we're hosting the (OCC-Capital Division meet May 8 and 11), it was perfect to start back with the pole vault this year."
Baseball team splits with Indians
The baseball team is looking to build on its recent success after going 3-1 last week and splitting a pair of OCC-Capital contests with rival Canal Winchester.
Groveport was 6-6 overall and 3-1 in the league after beating New Albany 4-1 on April 15. The teams played again April 17 at New Albany.
The Cruisers defeated host Canal Winchester 8-7 in nine innings April 10 and lost to the visiting Indians 2-1 in 10 innings the next day.
"It was an incredible 24 hours," coach Chris McKee said. "We played 19 innings and both teams totaled nine runs in the two combined games. We were a pitch away from a 1-0 win in the second game, but (Canal Winchester) got a two-out, two-strike hit in the top of the seventh to tie the game and they scored in the top of the 10th."
In the win over Canal Winchester, Austin Snyder and Colin Rice both had three hits, Rice drove in two runs and Austin Gautier had three RBI.
The winning run was score on a wild pitch. Robby Morgan led off the top of the ninth with a single and Gautier sacrificed, with the Indians making an error on the bunt, to set up the wild pitch.
Trey Mantle pitched the first seven innings and Tyler McKee pitched the final two to pick up the win. McKee worked his way out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth as he got a strikeout and groundout to end the game.
In the loss to the Indians, Rice scattered four hits in seven innings. Gautier relieved in the eighth and allowed three hits, including an RBI double in the 10th following a leadoff walk.
The Cruisers bounced back to beat host Dublin Scioto 12-6 on April 13.
"I was impressed with the way we came and responded after two emotionally draining games and 19 innings against our rivals," coach McKee said. "We came out swinging the bats very well against Scioto and we kept tacking on, which was important because we made quite a few errors. We didn't allow an earned run, so we had to outhit our mistakes.
"Our pitching has been very strong with Trey and Colin at the top of the rotation and Chris at No. 3. Offensively, Austin Snyder has been our most dynamic hitter and Austin Gautier has been solid and had a key two-run double against Scioto. Robby has been strong in the three hole and Jeremiah Slonaker has given us great production in the eighth spot of the order. He's a contact hitter, line-drive hitter, and he can bunt."
Softball team out to strong start
The softball team was 10-4 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital after beating New Albany 5-0 on April 15 and before playing Newark on April 17.
The two-time defending league champion Cruisers currently are in a stretch of 10 consecutive league games before playing at Hilliard Bradley on May 2.
After losing to Central Crossing 5-4 in eight innings in a non-league contest April 8, Groveport defeated Franklin Heights 21-0 on April 10 and Canal Winchester 18-4 on April 11 in league games.