Kai Britz has had an "incredibly enjoyable past few weeks" and was riding high entering this week.
In a span of a few days, the senior for the Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team not only qualified for the Division I state tournament for the first time, but also graduated.
"I lost the last two years in a (state-qualifying match) against some great competition, but I think I was more determined this time because I'm a senior and this was my last chance," Britz said. "The hard part is over now, because I've been aiming to get to state for three years. Anything I do there will just be gravy.
"With graduation (May 19), it's been a big, busy week. ... But all of my focus will be on tennis this week and not school or anything else."
Britz went 3-1 and placed second in the Division I district tournament held May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg, losing to St. Charles' Reece Yakubov 6-0, 6-1 in the final. He will take a 22-4 record into the state tournament Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
All four of Britz's losses have been to Yakubov, including a 6-4, 6-1 loss in a sectional final May 11 at Reynoldsburg.
Britz opened district by beating Kilbourne's Owen Alderman 6-2, 6-0 in the first round and beat Pickerington North's Cole Alcala 6-3, 6-1 in the second round before defeating Dublin Jerome's Anish Patel 6-2, 6-2 in a district semifinal.
"Kai is the first state qualifier we've had since Casey Cempre (in 2011)," coach Andrew Sinclair said. "It's a pretty big deal for us and he had some teammates there and there was quite a celebration. He's got some real supportive teammates."
Girls track team has strong district meet
The girls track and field team won four events in the 17-team Division I, district 3 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby and will be represented in eight events in the regional meet, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North.
Sarah Charley won the long jump in a school-record 18 feet, 5 3/4 inches, Gia Napoleon won the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 10.6 seconds, Carina Napoleon won the 1,600 in 5:00.29 and the 3,200 relay of Lydia Miller, Morgan Edwards and the Napoleons finished first in 9:13.03.
Also advancing were Breanne Beatty in both the 100 hurdles (second, 15.77) and 300 hurdles (second, 45.97), the 1,600 relay of Beatty, Cora Hamilton and the Napoleons (second, 3:59.58), Miller in the 1,600 (third, 5:12.98) and Leila Boussedra in the 3,200 (third, 11:43.46).
The Cardinals finished second (88.33 points) at district behind Olentangy Orange (125.5).
"I'm so proud of this team to do as well as we did under these (hot) conditions (May 18)," Gia Napoleon said. "This was like our first test in this weather this spring and the entire team did whatever it took to get to regional in as many events as possible."
An example of that came in the meet's final event, the 1,600 relay, as Beatty and Cora Hamilton were summoned to fill in for worn-out teammates.
"If you can step up and help, that's what you do for your teammates," Beatty said. "It was a last-minute change, but you adapt and do your best. It's funny that we were second because that meant I was a runner-up three times (May 18)."
The boys team will be represented in seven events at regional.
The Cardinals were led in the 17-team district 3 meet by Justin Braun, who won both the 200 (22.59) and 400 (48.0) and anchored the first-place 1,600 relay (3:19.9) behind Theory Schroder, Alie Jalloh and Macario Etienne.
"What a fun way to finish a district meet," coach Bill Darling said after congratulating the 1,600 relay. "It was the only relay we won and only the third event we won, but it was still a great day for the Cardinals. The 400 relay finishing fourth (44.53) and making it through to the regional was the big unexpected surprise and I'm so happy for them."
The 400 relay consisted of Bernard Oteng, Sony Kipre, Jayvaun Lane and Jalloh.
"I told my teammates I wasn't done yet. I wanted another week," Kipre said. "I had a good feeling we could do it and prove some people wrong."
"I'm just so excited," Lane said. "I knew we had the potential to get through, but actually doing it is great. This is just so exciting."
Also advancing were Luke Srsic in the pole vault (second, 14-0), Zubin Jha in the 3,200 (third, 9:57.7) and Schroder in the 300 hurdles (fourth, 39.68).
The Cardinals finished fourth (62) behind champion Reynoldsburg (104).
At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Girls lacrosse team falls to Golden Bears
The third-seeded girls lacrosse team couldn't stay with top-seeded Upper Arlington late in the second quarter of a Division I, Region 3 semifinal May 20, as the host Golden Bears went on a 4-0 run to take a 10-3 lead into halftime en route to a 17-6 win.
The Cardinals, who also lost to UA 12-6 on April 13, finished 13-8.
Tori Banks led Thomas with three goals.
The Cardinals opened the postseason by defeating 13th-seeded Hilliard Davidson 17-5 on May 14 and beat sixth-seeded Pickerington Central 17-6 in a regional quarterfinal May 16.
Against Central, Mollie Estepp had seven goals, Banks scored four and Abbey Midnight scored two.
Baseball team had 'challenging' season
The 37th-seeded baseball team lost at fifth-seeded Gahanna 8-7 in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 15 to finish 6-20.
Thomas rallied from a 5-0, first-inning deficit to take a 7-5 lead by scoring six runs in the top of the fifth inning. Gahanna, however, tied the game in the bottom of the fifth and won on a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the seventh.
The Cardinals, who beat 44th-seeded Franklin Heights 7-3 in a first-round home game May 13, are losing just one senior in infielder Jarred Armstrong.
"This season was challenging, but our guys gained a lot of valuable experience that will set us up for a very successful 2020," coach Chris Olson said. "The way we competed against Gahanna, one of the top teams in central Ohio, has me excited about the future.
"We had two freshmen and three sophomores that played significant roles for us and we'll also have several two-year letterwinners returning next year."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Chase Arrigo (1B/C), Nathan Borghese (OF), Luke Coe (P/OF), George Erickson (P/1B), Caden Kirker (P/INF), Austin Parsons (P/LF) and Will Pischel (SS).
Kirker batted .377 with 13 runs scored, Erickson hit .295 with 10 RBI, Borghese batted .292 with 11 runs, Parsons hit .289 with 13 runs and 12 RBI and Pischel batted .278 with 16 runs and 12 RBI.
Parsons was 2-1 on the mound with a 2.23 ERA and freshman Gannon Wentz was 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA.
Boys lacrosse team displayed growth
The fifth-seeded boys lacrosse team lost to sixth-seeded St. Charles 11-9 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 14 to finish 11-8.
St. Charles broke an 8-all tie with three consecutive goals, the first coming with 35 seconds left in the third quarter and the second coming with a man-advantage early in the fourth.
"I was very impressed by the growth of our team," said coach John Haldeman, whose team had finished 5-14 in 2018. "Considering how young we were, it was great to see how competitive we were throughout the year."
The Cardinals are losing six seniors in Nate Endicott (midfielder), Bennett Fischbach (attacker), Tanner Hunt (midfielder), Kemauni Peyton (defender), Zach Schonhiutt (attacker) and Nick Schriner (midfielder).
"We lost Nick to injury in the first week of the season and the other seniors stepped up and were strong leaders to the younger guys," Haldeman said. "But we have a lot of young guys who were major contributors and we're excited about taking the next step next year. We'll need some others to step up because we're losing three of our four top guys on the attack."
Among those expected to return are juniors Trevor Law and Ethan Ryan, sophomore Eli Short and freshman Owen Ryan on defense, junior goalkeeper Owen Kehl, junior Nick McCarthy and sophomore Cole McDermott in the midfield, sophomore Carson Smith on attack and freshman faceoff midfielder Nate Hoover.
Season ends for boys volleyball team
The 14th-seeded boys volleyball team defeated 15th-seeded New Albany 25-19, 15-25, 19-25, 26-24, 19-17 in its Division I East Region tournament opener May 17 at Orange, but lost to 11th-seeded Pickerington Central 18-25, 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 15-13 in a quarterfinal May 18 at Darby to finish 7-16 overall.
"Our guys played the best volleyball of the year, so this was a brutal loss," coach Brian Lawless said. "We only had three players with previous experience this year and we play in a tough league, so we did some great things this year. The future is bright."
Thomas is losing six seniors in Will Black (libero), Morgan Chavez (defensive specialist), Brian Graves (opposite hitter), Jimmy Marielli (outside hitter), Ben Shockley (outside hitter) and Vignesh Lalgudi (opposite hitter), as well as sophomore Miguel Pascual (middle hitter), an exchange student from Spain. Chavez, Graves and Marielli were first-year players.
Among the expected returnees are juniors Evers Brandt (middle hitter), Nick Hunley (opposite hitter) and Rob Rhoades (middle hitter), sophomores Joe Rhoades (opposite hitter) and Jack Roy (outside hitter) and freshman Joe Kolwicz (setter).