Last spring in his first season with the Africentric Early College boys track and field team, Anthony Bowman won the high jump by nine inches over the runner-up and placed in three other events in a mid-April invitational at Columbus South.
It was a sign of things to come for Bowman, who went on to clear 6 feet, 8 inches in the high jump at the Division III state meet.
Bowman, a senior who also happens to be the Nubians' fastest athlete, and classmate Anthony Tyler to give the Nubians a pair of returning state qualifiers after Tyler made it to state in the 300-meter hurdles last season.
"We're just trying to build around getting out of district as a team, putting (Bowman) in a position where he can not only jump, but also get us some points in some running events," coach Marcus Vaughn said. "With Tyler, his first time doing the hurdles, he really was a natural. Both are two kids that just jell, and it's just beautiful."
Vaughn also is high on his 3,200 relay of seniors Issac Saunders and Isaiah Saunders and juniors Calijha'won Davis and Austin Morris.
Bowman, who has committed to Tiffin University, won the Cavalier Invitational on April 18 at Chillicothe with a jump of 6-0 but has been battling a hamstring injury. He enters the City League meet Tuesday, May 7, and May 9 at Africentric as the defending league champion in the high jump after clearing 6-2 last season.
"It's not been good (so far this season)," Bowman said. "I've started the scissor to get to 6-0, but I haven't been able to curl (over the high jump bar) because I have a lower back problem. At state last year, I was nervous and was doing things based off of instinct, figuring out how to time myself. I didn't know I was going to be able to do 6-8.
"(Tyler and I) can relate to one another. He didn't actually think he was going to get to state last year, but after a while he started dropping his times."
Tyler was seventh in last week's area honor roll in the 300 hurdles (39.97 seconds). His best in the 110 hurdles this season is 15.96, and he also has run on sprint relays.
Bowman and Tyler both were members of the 1,600 relay that was disqualified for a handoff violation at the City meet last season.
"I've been trying to figure out what I want to put (Bowman) in for the district meet," Vaughn said. "He's the fastest guy on our team, so we want to see what he can do in running events. He hasn't really been pushed (in the high jump) yet.
"My hurdler, Anthony Tyler, broke 39 seconds in the 300 hurdles, so he rebroke his own school record. We also broke the 3,200 relay school record, so everybody is looking pretty good. I feel like we've got a pretty strong team that can compete for a district trophy."
The district meet will be held May 14, 16 and 18 at Watkins Memorial.
Track squads prep for league meet
The Eastmoor boys and Northland girls track and field teams will be looking to defend their respective City championships.
The Vikings have won three consecutive titles and the Warriors have won eight titles in a row, but both programs figure to be challenged.
Northland senior Michole Martinez could end up running on the 3,200 relay in the league meet Tuesday, May 7, as well as in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 on May 9. Sophomore distance runner Tyra Thomas and freshman sprinter Nahdia Alcorn also figure to be among the Vikings' top scorers at the league meet.
"(Martinez) came to me and said, 'I want to do the 1,600, 800 and 3,200 at City,'" coach Tom Fast said. "The 3,200 is less than 10 minutes after the 800 and she'll treat it like a cool-down run, and I think she can win it. She's going to be a star at City. The thing I like is that the (3,200 relay) is the first night and that lets you get away with stuff you wouldn't normally get away with.
"At City, Nahdia could do the 100, 400 and 200 and an event to be announced. We've got to look at our strategy and do some analysis."
On April 24 in the Braves Invitational at Whetstone, Northland was runner-up (81 points) to Watterson (96), while Beechcroft and Eastmoor tied for fourth (55), Independence was sixth (46) and East was seventh (32) as 13 teams scored.
The Eastmoor boys scored 93 points to win the Braves Invitational. Walnut Ridge was runner-up (75), Centennial was fourth (48.5), East was fifth (47), Northland was seventh (40) and Beechcroft was 12th (6) as 14 teams scored.
Walnut Ridge has one of the area's top shot putters in sophomore Jamarius Dinkins, who won at the Braves Invitational with a throw of 49-4.
Expected to contend for a City title in the high jump along with Bowman are Whetstone junior Hassan Sesay and Walnut Ridge senior Kaylyn Anderson, who finished first and second, respectively, with jumps of 6-0 at the Braves Invitational.
In addition, the boys 1,600 relay figures to be tightly contested at the City meet between Walnut Ridge's team of Aaron Clark, William Felts, Ronald Fleming and Antonio Tucker and Eastmoor's team of Isaiah Pressley, Cameron Long, Ira Graham and Weslee Prater. In the Braves Invitational, the Scots ran 3:29.48 to finish first and the Warriors were second (3:30.23).
Others looking to make an impact at the City meet include Mifflin senior Aman Thornton, who has the area's best time in the boys 800 (1:55.61), and Beechcroft junior Makiya Montgomery, who has the area's best time in the girls 100 (11.97) and the second-best time in the girls 200 (25.08).
Cougars softball team taking steps forward
The Beechcroft softball team has continued to take steps forward with the postseason approaching.
The Cougars lost to Independence 10-8 on April 4 but put together a nine-run third inning and beat the 76ers 15-4 in the rematch April 23.
Beechcroft was 7-5 overall and 6-4 in the City League-North Division before facing Whetstone on April 29 and Centennial on May 1.
"It's been going really well compared to past years," coach Marshall Cobb said. "We've gotten great senior leadership."
Senior pitcher Shailin Hasty and senior catcher Azhane Garrett have been leading the way, with Hasty batting .429 and Garrett hitting .559 through 11 games.
Hasty was named first-team all-City-North last season.
Freshmen Nevea Dupree (1B) and Danielle Nunley (2B) also have provided a boost, according to Cobb.
"I'm just pleased with the overall attitude of the team," Cobb said. "It's gotten better from the beginning of the season to this point. It's been steady progress throughout the year and the girls have been pleasant to work with.
"At this stage, we're in a better position than we have been in past years. We've been more competitive and we've held our own against Whetstone, Centennial and Northland. Northland run-ruled us (23-13 on March 13) the first time we played them, but in the second game, we were up 6-0 and they came back to beat us (8-6 on April 16). It was a lot different game the second time."
Beechcroft is preparing to compete in the Division II district tournament. First-round games are Tuesday, May 7.