After missing most of last season with right knee and hamstring injuries, Westerville South High School boys track and field athlete Ibukunoluwa Alfred returned this year motivated to reach his potential.
The junior continued that pursuit by advancing in three events to the Division I regional meet, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North.
Competing in the district 3 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby, Alfred placed third in the 110-meter hurdles (15.2 seconds) and 300 hurdles (39.63) and ran on the second-place 800 relay (1:28.89) with Aaron Powell, Gideon Abimbola and Austin Fickeisen.
"This is very satisfying," Alfred said. "It feels really good. We've put in extra work in the preseason. We lost a lot of speed from last year, so we had to pull more people in positions. It's been really good, too, because this is my first year being a captain, having to push everybody."
The relay is pursuing the program record of 1:27.71 set by Daylan Haynie, Mason Hunter, Kameron Calloway and Domi-nique Long at state in 2016.
"When you have a team that is as highly competitive as them and is as talented as them, those are the benchmarks that you go for," coach Jimmy Gaul said.
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional, where the top four in each event advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
"I'm very happy for (Ibuku-noluwa) moving on in both hurdle races," Gaul said. "The hurdle competition in central Ohio seems to be at a pretty ridiculous level right now where you're having to run under 40 seconds in the 300 hurdles and have to be pushing 15 seconds in the 110 to even have a prayer, so I'm very excited for him that he was able to capitalize in what's been a great season."
Alfred competed at regional as a freshman, helping the 400 relay finish second (41.72) and advance to state, where it finished ninth (43.19). That relay also included Abimbola.
Also at district, Alfred, Powell, Abimbola and Fickeisen were fifth in the 1,600 relay (3:24.55) and Oluwagbemileke Esan, Shamar Brittman, Jaylen Norwood and Padi Akrobettoe were fifth in the 400 relay (44.84).
South finished ninth (32 points) behind champion Reynoldsburg (104) as 16 teams scored.
For the girls, freshman Brooke Holloway and junior Makayla Roberts advanced to regional. Holloway finished third in the pole vault (10 feet, 8 inches) and Roberts was fourth in the discus (111-0).
Both are competing in their first regional meet.
"I'm very happy for both of them," Gaul said. "Makayla has been one of our top throwers all three years. She's been getting better and better and more consistent with her effort in both shot and discus. Brooke has started to put it together at the right time, so we're very excited that she was able to do that and be able to experience this level of competition in central Ohio."
Roberts was fifth in the shot put (34-2) and Josephine Appiah was fifth in the high jump (5-0).
The Wildcats finished 13th (19.33) behind champion Olentangy Orange (125.5) as 17 teams scored.
Baseball team closes season with win
The baseball team closed the season on a positive note, defeating Westerville Central 5-2 in a rescheduled game May 17 at home.
South finished 12-12 overall and 6-9 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, winning eight of its final 13 games.
Seeded 29th for the Division I district tournament, South defeated 24th-seeded Whetstone 2-1 in the first round May 13 before losing to seventh-seeded Upper Arlington 12-7 in the second round May 15.
Junior Jake Llaneza (INF/P) led the Wildcats with a .448 batting average, followed by seniors Jack Lovell (OF; .407) and Michael Dailey (INF/C/P; .380) and sophomores Brayden White (C/P; .325), Matthew Bame (OF/P; .321), Nick McConnell (INF/P; .306) and Logan Hunn (INF/P; .300).
Dailey (23), Llaneza (19) and White (15) led in RBI, and Bame (21) and Llaneza (20) led in runs.
Sophomore Brandon Kim was 3-1 with a 2.58 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 11 walks in 19 innings, and White was 3-2 with a 4.09 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 22 walks in 25 2/3 innings.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Aiden Braxton (OF), Alex Couch (INF) and Keyton Kowalski (OF/P) and sophomores Andrew Collinsworth (INF/P), Ryan Phillips (OF/C) and Santo Scillia (INF).
"The (first thing) that I ask for from our players is hustle, no one can outhustle you," coach Tim Bates said. "We didn't get outhustled this whole year, and you have to compete. You don't give up when you're down because we came back so many times and you can't quit when you're winning. The (other) thing is we have to finish."
Boys lacrosse team falls to Coffman
The boys lacrosse team saw its season end with a 25-1 loss at top-seeded Dublin Coffman in the second round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament May 14.
Senior midfielder Bryce Wilson scored for the 16th-seeded Wildcats, who finished 7-13.
Girls lacrosse team loses in first round
The girls lacrosse team lost at fifth-seeded Medina 19-3 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament May 14.
The 13th-seeded Wildcats finished 10-8.
Athletics director leaving for Granville
Citing a desire to work closer to home, Josh DeVoll is stepping down as athletics director to accept the same role at Granville.
DeVoll said his final day at South will be June 24, and he'll start at Granville on July 1.
His commute to Granville will be about five minutes.
"We have three young kids under 5, so it works out for my family and to be a part of a community that hopefully my kids will be going to school," he said.
DeVoll was at South for two years after replacing Buck Weaver, who is the athletics director at Olentangy Orange.
Before going to South, DeVoll was the athletics director at Buckeye Valley for one year and the athletics director at Linden-McKinley for two years.
He graduated from Newark in 2005 and Ohio State in 2009.