Two 3,200-meter relays with different pedigrees advanced to the Division III state meet for the Grandview Heights High School boys and girls track and field teams.
The boys will have a third consecutive entry at state, but the girls will be running there after failing to advance from district last year when they finished fifth in 10 minutes, 20.42 seconds.
Liza DeVere, Hannah Yochem, Emma Hall and Nina Amicon finished fourth (9:56.82) in the opening running event in the regional meet May 22 at Fairfield Union. The top four finishers in each event at regional, which concluded May 24, advanced to state Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.
"We were fifth at district last year with the same four girls and they were in a really good race in the conference meet and that really has given them confidence over the last two weeks," said coach Brian Schoch, whose relay finished second (9:55.3) in the MSL-Ohio Division meet held May 7 and 10 at Whitehall. "It was a wild (regional) race with four teams finishing within two seconds coming down to the (finish) line.
"It was an exciting race and all four girls did what they had to do. They all ran a little different but did what they needed to do."
DeVere ran the opening leg and set the pace for her teammates.
"I think my leg went well," she said. "I wanted to stay up at the front of the pack and be aware of everyone around me. But I also tried to push ahead at the end and kick it."
Yochem ran the second leg and handed off the baton to Hall with the Bobcats leading the race.
"I just wanted to try to keep the place Liza and Hannah gave us and to put Nina in good position to finish," Hall said. "She always finishes strong for us not matter what. It's my job to give Nina an extra few seconds."
Grandview was third after Hall's two laps. The top four relays finished within 2.14 seconds of one another.
"I think overall our race was great," Amicon said. "Last year, these same four girls were fifth at district and didn't even make it to regional. Now we just qualified for state so I think that's amazing. We have come so far."
The boys 3,200 relay finished third (8:20.62) with Chris Miller, Ravi Kumar, Luke Wallace and Derek Amicon. Miller, the lead leg, also ran at state last season, joining 2018 graduates Eli Evans, Eli Hall and Liam Kerr on the 3,200 relay that finished 11th (8:13.45).
"I wanted to get us out there because I knew we wanted to build that lead for the race and be able to hold it," Miller said. "Being in lane eight was an interesting task because you cannot see anyone for a long time. I didn't want to get boxed in behind people. I knew Mount Gilead had a good leadoff runner, so I wanted to get on his tail and let him pull me through with a good time."
Miller had the relay in second when he handed off to Kumar, who had the Bobcats in third when handing the baton to Wallace.
"Leesburg Fairfield ran their best runner -- maybe the best runner in the field -- second, which is unorthodox," Kumar said. "That made it interesting. I tried to stay on the Mount Gilead runner and give my guys a shot."
The relay was fourth when Amicon started the final leg.
"There was a pretty decent gap for third, so I kicked out pretty fast, which is how I normally try to race so I can get on (the third-place runner)," he said. "I kept after him and was finally able to pass him."
Schoch said the boys were masterful in executing their plan of action.
"They all ran their overall best race of the season," said Schoch, whose boys 3,200 relay of Miller, Evans, Hall and Kerr was ninth at state in 2017 in 8:13.67. "They got the baton to Derek with a chance (to advance) and I thought Derek ran a great closing leg. He was really poised for a sophomore, to get the baton and understand what's fast enough without being too fast. That's a good level of maturity."
Several field events were decided on the opening day of regional. Brothers Iain and Connor McCormick were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the pole vault after both cleared 12 feet.
In the high jump, Tayler Pierce was sixth (5-2) and DeVere placed seventh (5-0).
Collin Haj Abed placed 13th in the long jump (17-7 1/4), and Matthew Taylor was 15th in the discus (109-2).
Bobcats name coach for wrestling program
Mike Dodge has been named wrestling coach, pending school board approval.
He replaces Sam Mehling, who led the program for five seasons.
Dodge was the Bobcats' middle school coach the past two seasons and was the coach at Karrer Middle School in Dublin for six seasons.
He also is an assistant football coach.