The Groveport Madison High School track and field teams are hoping their first chance to play host to the OCC-Capital Division meet yields success.

The league meet is being held Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11.

"Since we are hosting the meet this year for our division and the OCC-Ohio Division, I am looking for our athletes to come out strong and focused on competing for the title," first-year coach Vincent Gay said. "We have faced each of the teams in our league multiple times this season and have been able to run great against them each time.

"I am expecting some great times and personal records to be set. I would not be surprised if another school record falls, too."

Senior Tahzmere Givens of the boys team may be on track to lowering the school record in the 300-meter hurdles that he set April 29 when he finished in 39.4 seconds during a dual meet against Logan Elm.

"It's a great feeling because the old record was 39.7 and it was set 11 years ago," Givens said. "I have to give my coaches a lot of credit. (Coach Gay) sold me on the fact that the 300 hurdles could be my top event. I didn't believe him at first, but he pushed me to run the 400 in the indoor season to prepare me. (Assistant) coach (Nicole) Schmidt has worked me hard on the stutter steps and my speed reaching the first hurdle. I still think I can lower the time into the 38s or high 37s. I have more in me, and as a senior, I really want to get to state."

The boys team finished fifth (60 points) in last year's OCC-Capital meet, behind Big Walnut (164), Canal Winchester (120), Newark (76) and New Albany (75) and ahead of Franklin Heights (26).

The girls team placed fourth (81) behind Big Walnut (137), Canal Winchester (126) and New Albany (113) and ahead of Newark (50) and Franklin Heights (16).

On May 3, the boys team finished second (95) behind Canal Winchester (113) in the 13-team Westerville Central Warhawk Invitational at Otterbein.

Illyas Haji won the 2,000 steeplechase (6:30.44) and placing second were Givens in the 300 hurdles (39.83), the 1,600 relay of Givens, Tyrell Floyd, Carl Allen and Rafael Soler (3:28.48) and John Motton in the long jump (20 feet, 3/4 inch).

Placing third were Jashaun McGraw in the shot put (46-7 3/4), the 400 relay of Marques Holmes, Naseem Bowers, Motton and Markell Holmes (43.84), the 800 relay of Kahari Davis, Bowers, Floyd and Allen (1:30.91) and the 3,200 relay of Peyton Baker, Sam Hoyte, Kaleb Wilson and Soler (8:31.89).

The girls team finished sixth (60) of 16 teams in the Warhawk Invitational, behind champion Westerville Central (157.5).

Melanie Torres placed second in the 3,200 (12:31.08) and third in the 2,000 steeplechase (8:31.2) and Toni Woods was second in the long jump (17-5 1/2) and fifth in the 200 (26.84).

Also placing second were the 400 relay of Atanna Gunnell, Chenise Smith, Makaila Boston and Emani Anthony (50.43) and the 800 relay of Gunnell, Smith, Emily Allen and Madi Young (1:47.54).

"On the girls team, we have dealt with a lot of injuries but are finally getting back to a full team," Gay said. "Lately, Chenise Smith has stepped up as a workhorse running in events from the (400 relay) to the open 800 and has been successful in all of them. Melanie Torres has had some strong 1,600 runs as she chases down the school record. We just got Toni Woods back from injury and we're hoping she'll be fully healthy for the OCCs."

After the league meet, the Cruisers will prepare for the Division I district meet next week at Hilliard Darby. The boys will compete in district 2, which begins Tuesday, May 14, continues Wednesday, May 15, and concludes May 18, while the girls will compete in district 3, which begins May 15, continues May 16 and concludes May 18.

Boys tennis team set for sectional

The boys tennis team is set to compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Hilliard Bradley.

Competing in singles are sophomores Hayden Vaughn, Jacob Prystasz and Zachary Copeland.

Vaughn will play Whitehall's Raymond Zhen in the first round, Prystasz will play third-seeded Daniel Utkin of Dublin Jerome in the first round and Copeland will face Mifflin's Mehki Jarrett in a feed-in match.

In first-round doubles matches, junior Dylan Uptegraft and sophomore Stanley Ubah will play Columbus West's Juan Presnell and Steven Little and freshmen Jason Robertson and Jaxon Kelly will face top-seeded Vishnu Bodavula and Marcelo Aguilar of Olentangy Liberty.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.

Pitching leads baseball team

Strong pitching has led the baseball team the past few weeks.

The Cruisers were 10-9 overall and 8-4 in the OCC-Capital before playing Canal Winchester in a makeup game May 7 and Newark on May 8.

Entering play May 7, Groveport had allowed more than two runs just once in its previous nine contests.

The Cruisers will close the regular season Friday, May 10, at home against Big Walnut.

Groveport split its first two league games against the Golden Eagles, winning 4-1 on April 29 behind a complete-game pitching performance by Colin Rice and losing 2-1 the following day despite a strong pitching effort from Trey Mantle.

Tyler McKee allowed four hits in a 9-2 league win over Franklin Heights on May 1.

The Cruisers are seeded 20th of 48 teams in the Division I district tournament and have a first-round bye. They will play host to 22nd-seeded St. Charles or 33rd-seeded Westerville North in the second round Wednesday, May 15, with the winner likely facing top-seeded New Albany in a district semifinal May 20 at a site to be determined.

Entering play May 7, New Albany had only one loss, a 4-1 decision to Groveport on April 15. The Eagles beat the Cruisers 6-3 on April 17 and 1-0 on May 6.

Softball team opens postseason

The softball team missed an opportunity to finish unbeaten in OCC-Capital play, as it lost to Big Walnut 4-3 on May 1 to finish 9-1 in the league.

Groveport had clinched its third consecutive outright OCC-Capital title with an 11-4 win over Newark on April 29. It then rallied to beat New Albany 13-9 in eight innings April 30, scoring 10 runs in the final three innings to overcome a 9-3 deficit, before falling to Big Walnut.

The Cruisers rebounded to beat Watkins Memorial 7-3 on May 4 and DeSales 4-3 on May 6 to improve to 18-5 overall.

Groveport is seeded fourth of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and had a first-round bye. The Cruisers played 25th-seeded Olentangy in a second-round home game May 8.

The winner plays 13th-seeded Upper Arlington or 22nd-seeded New Albany in a district semifinal Monday, May 13, at a site to be determined.

The semifinal winner likely will face top-seeded Westerville Central in a district final May 17 or 18 at Pickerington Central.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek