The final event in the Division I, district 1 meet that concluded May 18 provided some drama for the Hilliard Darby High School girls track and field team. But when the event was over, the host Panthers had reason to celebrate.
With Darby and Davidson tied for first in the team standings, the Panthers' Zayna Hampton, Sydney Thomas, Jane Vulic and Syd Wyngarden placed second in the 1,600-meter relay in 4 minutes, 3.22 seconds, edging the third-place Wildcats (4:05.84) to secure the team title for Darby.
"Everyone always says the meet will come down to the (1,600 relay)," Wyngarden said. "But this time it actually happened. It was so exciting. First of all, Davidson is a very good team. But they're also a rival, so it makes it that much sweeter."
Don Seymour, who is in his 11th season as girls coach, had waited a long time for a district championship.
"We've had some great teams in the 20 years we've been in existence," he said. "We've finished as district runners-up 10 times. But this is the very first time we've won a district championship. These girls worked so hard and it's been their dream to be the first ones to do it. And it all came down to (the 1,600 relay). One event, get it done. Wow, it's amazing and draining."
Darby totaled 106 points to edge runner-up Davidson (104) in the 17-team meet. The Panthers showed their depth, as they captured the title despite winning only two events.
"I actually had tears in my eyes when we were taking team pictures with the trophy," said senior Maliyah Ellis, who finished first in the long jump (18 feet, 1 1/2 inches). "We've been dreaming about making this happen and being the first ones to do it and we've finally done it."
Ellis also waited until the last moment to win her individual title.
"I fouled on my first two attempts and my coaches calmed me down and told me to relax and do it for my teammates and take the pressure off myself," Ellis said. "I had one chance to do it and I just wanted to get a mark to move on to the finals, but I sprung one and got my (personal record)."
Senior Stacia Rispress had the Panthers' other first-place finish, winning the high jump (5-2).
"I think we are good across the board and balanced between the field events and the track," Rispress said. "I think we scored in almost every event and we qualified a lot of people to regional."
Also qualifying for the regional meet, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North, were Naomi Walters in the long jump (second, 18-1/4), Hampton in the 400 (second, 59.01), Wyngarden in the 400 (third, 59.38), Daniella Santos in the 1,600 (third, 5:12.77), the 400 relay of Walters, Thomas, Gabrielle Hammonds and Rispress (third, 49.9), the 800 relay of Hampton, Wyngarden, Rispress and Walter (third, 1:44.64), Hammonds in both the 100 hurdles (fourth, 15.42) and 300 hurdles (fourth, 46.18), Thomas in the 200 (fourth, 26.18), Emma Kowalski in the shot put (fourth, 36-6 1/2) and the 3,200 relay of Santos, Mia Wyngarden, Syd Wyngarden and Erin Cowen (fourth, 9:45.26).
"We may not have won any events on the track, but we will be competing at North in all but one running event, the 3,200," Seymour said. "We showed a lot of depth and balance."
Winning titles for the boys team in the 17-team district 2 meet were Sean Carney in the 1,600 (4:19.86) and Michael Cornathan in the shot put (53-2 3/4).
Also advancing to regional were the 800 relay of Kris Day, Lucas Fratianne, Eric Williams and Todd Pilkington (second, 1:30.27), Chris Burkhart in the discus (second, 167-10), the 3,200 relay of Malachi McGill, Eric Lowery, Matthew Imwalle and Carney (third, 8:05.74), Cornathan in the discus (fourth, 143-0) and Fratianne in the 200 (fourth, 22.77).
McGill, who won the state title in the 800 in 2017 and finished fifth at state in the event last season, was disqualified in the 800 for bumping into a runner he was trying to pass. Boys coach Matthew Fox appealed the ruling, but the call was upheld.
The Panthers finished fifth (62.5) as Pickerington North and Canal Winchester shared the title with 84 points apiece.
At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Baseball team reaches district semifinal
The sixth-seeded baseball team was 20-7 before playing 18th-seeded Watkins Memorial in a Division I district semifinal May 21 at Dublin Coffman.
The winner plays third-seeded Olentangy Orange or 13th-seeded Westerville Central in a district final Thursday, May 23, at a neutral site. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 30 at Coffman.
Darby opened the postseason May 15 by defeating 19th-seeded Olentangy 7-0 in a second-round game as Connor Maruniak tossed a two-hitter and the Panthers scored six runs in the fourth inning.
Boys volleyball team opens postseason
The top-seeded boys volleyball team was 23-2 before playing 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in a Division I East Region semifinal May 21.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Coffman or eighth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a regional final Friday, May 24, at Westerville Central, with the regional champion advancing to a state quarterfinal June 1 at Capital.
The Panthers, who are seeking their 14th consecutive state tournament appearance, opened the postseason May 18 by defeating 19th-seeded Rey-noldsburg 25-9, 25-14, 25-16.
Softball team losing six seniors
The softball team is losing six seniors, including one of the top players in program history.
Senior shortstop Tegan Cortelletti owns the program's career records for hits (230), batting average (.598), RBI (88), runs scored (143), stolen bases (71), on-base percentage (.619) and slugging percentage (.812).
This season, Cortelletti struck out only once in 104 plate appearances and batted .624 with 10 doubles, 10 triples, two home runs, 30 RBI and 43 runs.
"Tegan can do it all," said coach Shawn Papp, whose team finished 13-14 overall after losing to top-seeded Westerville Central 8-0 in a Division I district semifinal May 15. "That's why she's going to play for Ohio State."
Also in the senior class are Maddi Clark (P), Grace Hill (LF), Molly Holdren (CF), Sydney McCreary (C) and Lindsey Murgatroyd (OF).
Holdren batted .500, McCreary hit .366 with 11 doubles and 20 RBI and Hill batted .269 with 13 RBI.
"I am going to miss this group," said Papp, whose team went 10-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place second to Delaware (14-0). "They were good softball players, but they were even better people. They were a big part of continuing the growth of our program. We had significant injuries that derailed us from accomplishing all our goals. It showed the great character of our team to not give up and continue to work, and the girls' ability to work through adversity is what I enjoyed most about this season."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Jordyn Anderson (P), Taylor Clark (P/OF), Kyrin Enneking (OF) and Lily Garnett-Brown (2B). Garnett-Brown batted .375 with 10 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 23 runs and 26 RBI, Anderson hit .317 with 15 RBI and Enneking batted .265 with 22 runs and 16 RBI.
In the circle, Anderson was 2-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 41 1/3 innings and Taylor Clark was 6-4 with a 6.56 ERA in 80 innings.
All starters expected back for girls team
The 10th-seeded girls lacrosse team's season ended May 17 with a 17-4 loss at top-seeded Upper Arlington in a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal.
Darby, which beat ninth-seeded Centerville 15-4 in its postseason opener May 14, finished 11-7-1. The Panthers are losing just one senior in defender/midfielder Kensie Stellrecht.
"I feel confident that we're going to have a very strong season next year because we've got a good, young nucleus returning," coach Kaleb Secor said. "We're returning all of our starters and we should have three seniors and seven juniors who have two or three years of experience. We had a good tournament win on the road and that's always a plus for a young team, and we hung with UA for a good chunk of the first half. So we're encouraged."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Anna Goschke (goalkeeper), Mel Hurtado (defender/midfielder), Carli Rigel (attacker/midfielder) and Gabby Stern (attacker), sophomores Kelsey Binion (attacker/midfielder), Logan Card (goalie), Haley Clifton (attacker), Cate Gearhiser (defender), Haylee Handrahan (attacker), Sophia Iosue (midfielder), Lexi Lednik (attacker), Kendyl Mahoney (defender) and Caroline Turner (defender) and freshman Carley House (attacker).
Boys lacrosse team losing 11 seniors
The ninth-seeded boys lacrosse team gave fourth-seeded Centerville all it could handle in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 14 before falling to the host Elks 6-5 to finish 7-10.
The Panthers are losing 11 seniors, including seven starters in Jacob Brenneman (midfielder), Dominic Iosue (attacker), Jeremey Koebel (attacker), Justen Shaw (def-ender), Matt Spangler (defen-der), Nathan Sprott (goalie) and Nick Wile (midfielder).
"We were playing our best team ball toward the end of the season," coach Rob Schmeling said. "Our seniors helped grow the culture and mentor our underclassmen. We were fortunate to have seven freshmen contribute and their development, combined with the leadership from our returning upperclassmen, will be vital to our success."
Among the expected key returnees are juniors Nick Liening (midfielder) and Hunter Wagner (attacker) and freshman Miguel Sayers (midfielder). Other contributors were juniors Creed Galko (midfielder) and Codey Wendel (defender), sophomores Alan Riggans (midfielder) and Caleb Williams (defender) and freshmen Kaden Ames (attacker), Max Movshin (midfielder) and Brady Smith (goalie).