The first weekend of June always will be significant to Reynoldsburg High School senior Jeremiah Burton.
It was during that time last spring that Burton made his first appearance at the Division I state track and field meet while attending Westerville North.
He also announced his commitment to play football for Ohio University on the same weekend.
The two sports aren't always on par in Burton's heart because of his long-held affection for football, but success has followed him in the shot put nevertheless.
"I haven't really practiced (track) as much because I've always focused so much on football," Burton said. "I'm trying to get myself situated for the upcoming summer, but when track season comes, I start to get into it."
Burton has fit in quickly in track despite taking it up for the first time as a sophomore.
After being a regional qualifier in the shot put in 2017, Burton emerged with a third-place finish at regional last spring with a throw of 53 feet, 10 inches to qualify for state. He followed that by placing 13th at state with a 53 1/2.
In last week's area honor roll, Burton was No. 1 in the shot put after recently throwing 56-5 1/4. He also had one of the top 20 throws among Division I discus competitors in the area (134-8) and figures to contend for a regional berth in that event as well.
Burton's top competition in the shot put from central Ohio likely includes Central Crossing senior Luis Bolanos-Cruz, who was regional runner-up and sixth at state last season, and Gahanna junior A'Che Sanchez-Baccus, who was fourth at regional and 16th at state a season ago.
"(Burton's) pretty good," Raiders throwing coach Scott Webster said. "He's got some skills. We're hoping to get him on the (state) podium in June. He definitely is going to be there, but (the) area is pretty heavy and there are a lot of guys that placed at the state meet last year that are back again. We're hoping he can get into the 59-60 range."
Burton is among a group of Reynoldsburg boys who were in last week's area honor roll, a list that also included Lance Gauthney (third in the 200 meters, 21.99 seconds; sixth in the 400, 49.46), Muhammad Fall (second in the 110 hurdles, 14.44; fifth in 300 hurdles, 39.93), Doniven Jackson (ninth in the 100, 10.97) and Wendesen King (10th in the 800, 1:58.52).
In addition, the 400 relay was fourth (43.07), the 800 relay was 11th (1:31.37), the 1,600 relay was seventh (3:27.48) and the 3,200 relay was seventh (8:22.6).
Burton, who projects as a defensive tackle in college after finishing with 75 tackles and 13 tackles for loss last fall and is listed at 6-foot-2, 285 pounds, is hoping to make another appearance at state a few weeks from now.
"Last year I went in there at state trying to get a feel for it," he said. "I enjoyed just meeting the guys that had the experience, just learning the different steps they took and their different practice habits. It was the first time I'd been to Jesse (Owens Memorial Stadium) so it was crazy. I went onto the track and saw that once we got to the shot put, everybody was looking at that hill down on you.
"Now mostly I'm working on getting faster so I can use my legs. Hopefully I keep (getting my personal best) and hopefully I can get on the podium (at state). I feel like our boys team can do some good things this year."
Volleyball squad building camaraderie
With a roster featuring numerous players who are new to the sport, the third-year boys volleyball team has struggled with consistency.
On the positive side, coach Matt Bailey has seen enthusiasm from his players to learn the sport and build for the future.
"We have lots of fun, especially in practice and in our off time, but when it comes out on the floor we can't put it all together right now," Bailey said.
"We'll only be down a couple points and then the other team will pull away. We have to go in every match wanting to make sure we aren't letting any balls drop and do whatever it takes to keep the ball in play. We've got to be mentally in the match from the get-go, wanting to compete for every ball."
The Raiders were 1-15 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio Division before facing Dublin Coffman on April 30.
Senior outside hitter Bryce Jenkins, who became eligible for the second half of last season after transferring in from Licking Heights, has club experience and has been among the team's leaders.
Senior opposite hitter Boyd Davis and junior outside hitter Donovan Travis are other returnees who have served as key players.
Jenkins previously had committed to play for Wittenberg but has since decided he'll attend Cincinnati and attempt to compete for its club program.
The Raiders earned their first win April 6 when they beat Licking Heights 21-25, 25-22, 25-21. They also had won two other sets before April 30, including in a 22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-21 loss to Upper Arlington on April 25.
"I feel like it's going well," Jenkins said. "It's really about the younger generation and really working on them and building up the program for the next couple years. I'm definitely glad I'm here and made the transition. Working with the younger generation builds your leadership skills. We're taking it day by day. I feel like overall with our level of play, the guys are becoming more engaged."
According to Travis, one of the biggest things the team is trying to learn is the ability to "not get down so easily."
Bailey was pleased with the way his team competed April 13 at Olentangy Orange when it lost to Huber Heights Wayne 25-22, 25-15, the host Pioneers 25-14, 25-13 and DeSales 25-12, 27-25.
"It's a very young and inexperienced team," Bailey said. "Some of the upperclassmen are a little frustrated with it, but I'm trying to lead the upperclassmen into trying to teach them how to be leaders out there because they've never had to do it before. We are improving. I'm loving the way they're individually improving."
Tennis team preps for postseason
The boys tennis team has four matches remaining before opening the Division I postseason at the sectional level May 9 and 11 at home.
One of those matches is against Delaware in an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament contest that originally was slated for April 26 but was postponed. The makeup date has not yet been announced.
The Raiders entered the week 8-7 overall. They beat Lancaster 4-1 on April 23 to finish 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio as Boban Mihajlov won at first singles, James Knorr won at third singles, Chase Cotner and Brian McClain won at first doubles and Gunnar Green and Sean Burns won at second doubles.
Reynoldsburg went 0-5 in the league last season.
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg baseball, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 3 -- At Grove City. The Raiders beat the Greyhounds 7-3 on April 10.
May 4 -- Home vs. Ready (DH)
*May 6 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Raiders lost to the Tigers 7-6 on April 15 and 7-3 on April 17.
*May 8 -- At Pickerington North. The Raiders lost to the Panthers 7-2 on April 22 and 1-0 on April 24.
May 4 -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial and Groveport
May 6 -- Home vs. 39th-seeded Westerville South in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays Wednesday, May 8, at 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in second round, with the winner to play 10th-seeded Teays Valley or 45th-seeded Franklin Heights on May 13 in a district semifinal at a site to be announced. Reynoldsburg is the 29th seed.
May 2 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
May 6 -- Home vs. Teays Valley
May 7 -- At Logan
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Thomas Worthington
*May 2 -- At Gahanna. The Raiders lost to the Lions 25-9, 25-16, 25-12 on April 11.
May 3 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy and Northland
*May 6 -- At Hilliard Davidson. The Raiders lost to the Wildcats 25-10, 25-20, 25-10 on April 2.
*May 7 -- Home vs. New Albany. The Raiders lost to the Eagles 25-12, 25-19, 25-18 on April 16.
May 8 -- At Thomas