The Groveport Madison High School boys track and field team turned in a strong performance in the Division I, district 2 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby.
The Cruisers scored in nine events, set two school records and advanced to regional in five events.
Qualifying for regional, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North, were Rafael Soler in the 800 meters (second, school-record 1 minute, 57.98 seconds), Tahzmere Givens in the 300 hurdles (second, 39.7), Tyrell Floyd in the 400 (fourth, school-record 50.44), the 1,600 relay of Soler, Givens, Floyd and Carl Allen (second, 3:22.94) and the 800 relay of Naseem Bowers, Kahari Davis, Allen and Floyd (third, 1:30.47).
The top four finishers in each regional event advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
"It was definitely hot, but I got lucky because we caught some cloud cover before the start of (the 800)," Soler said. "I really didn't run intelligently, but I got away with it. I pushed a little too hard on the curve, but I was so fired up by what we were doing as a team. I love these guys so much and we have a lot of fun. I couldn't ask for better teammates."
Floyd held off Olentangy Liberty's Tasker Brown (50.78) in the 400 for the final regional berth. Canal Winchester's Korbin Martino won the event in 47.53.
"I've always wanted the record and I've been close for a while," Floyd said. "I've been really pushing myself to stay with Korbin Martino, but I fell a bit back and my thoughts were just to put my head down and get to regionals. We've put in the work as a team and the postseason is when it starts to show."
The 400 relay of Nassem Bowers, Markell Holmes, Jon Motton and Marques Holmes placed fifth (43.21), getting edged by Pickerington North (43.18) for the final regional berth.
Placing sixth were Allen in the 400 (51.12) and Harris Musungu in both the high jump (6 feet) and long jump (21-3 3/4).
The Cruisers scored 51 points to finish eighth behind co-champions Pickerington North and Canal Winchester (both 84) as 16 teams scored.
"Rafael keeps getting better and better every week and Carl is going to be a truly great runner," coach Vincent Gay said. "He's young and developing, but he's a freshman who ran a 20.3 split in the third leg of the (800 relay) and had a sharp exchange with Tyrell. He made up a lot of ground and then let Tyrell finish strong.
"Carl is going to be one of those guys who will help this team be feared in the future. I think we're back and we're so young that we'll just get better from here. This year was a starting point to a new era for us, I believe."
Toni Woods led the girls team in the district 3 meet that concluded May 18 at Darby, resetting the school record in the long jump for the third time this season when she placed second in 18-5. She did not attempt her final two jumps in an effort to conserve energy.
Woods joined Atanna Gunnell, Emily Allen and Madi Young on the second-place 800 relay (1:45.71), while the 400 relay of Allen, Makaila Boston, Gunnell and Danasha Winfield also advanced by placing third (50.13).
Woods also competed for the 400 and 1,600 relays in preliminaries, but was not in the lineup for the finals. The 1,600 relay did not compete in the final.
"Toni was on three relays on prelim day and just destroyed it to get them into the finals," Gay said. "But with regional coming quickly and (May 18) being so hot, we made some decisions. But the girls did great and they're hungry to see what they can do at regionals."
The Cruisers finished eighth (25) of 17 teams at district, behind champion Olentangy Orange (125.5).
Baseball team falls short against Eagles
The 20th-seeded baseball team lost to top-seeded New Albany 4-3 in a Division I district semifinal May 20 at Dublin Coffman to finish 13-11.
It marked the fourth meeting between the teams this season. The Cruisers won 4-1 on April 15 and lost 6-3 on April 17 and 1-0 on May 6.
On May 20, the Eagles rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to improve to 26-1.
The Cruisers scored two runs in the first inning and one in the third to take a 3-0 lead.
Groveport opened the district tournament May 15 by beating 22nd-seeded St. Charles 3-2 in a second-round home game.
Trey Mantle pitched a three-hitter for the Cruisers, who scored two runs in the first inning and allowed two unearned runs in the top of the fifth before scoring the eventual winning run in the bottom of the fifth.
Softball team losing four seniors
The softball team is losing four seniors, including shortstop Lanie White and center fielder Lexi Wright, who have been staples in the program and helped lead the Cruisers to three consecutive league championships.
The Cruisers finished 20-7 overall after losing to 13th-seeded Upper Arlington 11-7 in a Division I district semifinal May 13 at Pickerington Central. The fourth-seeded Cruisers had a first-round bye and defeated 25th-seeded Olentangy 9-2 in a second-round home game May 8.
"I didn't think it was a fair way for our seniors to go out," coach Chris Downing said. "We may have been the only site in the state that played that night (despite bad weather). We were the only site in the district to play, for sure. Three miles away at Pickerington North, they canceled. We got (to Central) and the plate was under water and we couldn't take infield on time. It was just messy and sloppy.
"I know it's the same for both teams, but our pitcher (junior Ally Maddy) was really affected by that because she's got small hands and she had control problems, which isn't normal for her. So it can affect teams in different ways. Plus, the weather was going to be fine the rest of the week, so there was no reason to play that night."
Downing was pleased with the season, though.
"Any year you can win 20 or more games is spectacular, and these girls did that and won the (OCC-Capital Division title) for the third year in a row," he said. "This program had only won three league titles overall before this streak."
The Cruisers went 9-1 in the league to finish two games ahead of runner-up Big Walnut (7-3). They are 28-2 in league play the last three seasons.
White batted .469 with 12 doubles, nine home runs, 41 runs scored and 34 RBI from the third spot in the order and Wright, batting leadoff, hit .394 and scored 31 runs. Seniors Taylor Hill (LF) and Daryion Smith (C) were part-time starters.
Among the starters expected to return are Maddy, juniors Milan Caldwell (1B), Kenzie Maddy (2B) and Macie Sporleder (3B) and freshmen Gabby Adams (RF) and Kendyll Cahill (designated player/P).
Sporleder batted .500 with 11 doubles, 29 runs and 35 RBI, Adams hit .438 with nine doubles, eight home runs, 33 runs and 44 RBI, Cahill batted .385 with 31 RBI, Caldwell batted .384 with 22 RBI, Ally Maddy hit .379 and Kenzie Maddy batted .349 with 35 runs.
"We've got a lot of young talent coming back and we'll be looking to extend our league championship streak and break through and get a district championship next year," Downing said.