The Canal Winchester High School boys track and field team anticipated the same buzz that swept the crowd at the end of the Division I regional meet May 24 at Pickerington North.
The Indians and Pickerington Central were the top two seeds for the 1,600-meter relay, separated by .55 of a second, and their relays seemed to give the fans -- and themselves -- the anticipated showdown.
In fifth place after two legs, Nathan Simons brought Canal Winchester back to second and Korbin Martino hung with Central's Evan Matthews to the end but came up just short as the Indians finished second in 3 minutes, 17.15 seconds, .14 of a second behind the Tigers.
"We knew it would be a battle with Pickerington Central and then Dublin Coffman ended up coming out of nowhere (to finish third in 3:17.75)," Martino said. "They are absolutely fantastic competitors. We love coming out here and competing against these kinds of teams. Everybody on this team is absolute athletes. It's always a battle."
That capped a regional that saw the Indians advance two relays and two individuals to state Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State. Martino won the 400 in 47.3 and was on the winning 800 relay (1:27.05) with Gibson Cornett, Dylan Randall and Nathan Simons, and Simons was runner-up in the 200 (21.84).
The top four finishers automatically qualified for state. In addition, two at-large berths were awarded in each event based on time, height or distance statewide.
Canal Winchester scored 44 points to finish third behind Central (101) and Olentangy Orange (50) as 42 teams scored.
Martino edged Westerville Central freshman Justin Braun by .23 of a second in the 400 despite having to wear a backup pair of shoes. Martino, a sophomore, was 12th in that event at state last year as the Indians' only qualifier.
"I realized I forgot my shoes and I had to run in some backups, but I went out there and just ran my race. It was fast," Martino said. "My dad (Kyle) got on me a little bit because I was smiling there right at the end of the race and he said, 'Just run to the line.' But I was having fun. I love this."
Simons finished .15 of a second behind Central's Denzell Feagin, a former Indians runner who transferred to Central before his junior season.
"Nothing is given. You have to earn everything," Simons said. "I was thinking I'd come out and run right around 22 (seconds). This is better than I expected. For me to get that time is amazing in this kind of meet. I have to come back out (at state) and do even better."
Also competing but failing to advance were the 400 relay of Cornett, Yohannes McLeish, Randall and Tyler Toledo (fifth, 42.73), Randall in the 100 (fifth, 11.11) and Cornett in the 200 (seventh, 22.99).
Ariana Coleman of the girls team earned her first state berth by finishing fourth in the long jump (17-6 1/4). She qualified on her final attempt.
"It feels pretty good. I'm excited," Coleman said. "I just wanted to qualify. I didn't have a particular distance in mind. I'd been going 15 and 16 feet for most of my jumps, but I felt pretty good with that last jump. I had a lot more speed on my last one, but I still have things to work on (for state). I know I can still go faster."
Also competing were the 1,600 relay of Coleman, Anaya Edwards, Allena Klamorick and Angela Postage (seventh, 4:06.18) and Klamorick in the 800 (12th, 2:21.91).
The Indians scored seven points and tied Independence for 25th behind champion Gahanna (89) as 38 teams scored.
Baseball team surged late in season
The baseball team overcame an 0-7 start to finish 14-14 overall and 9-6 in the OCC-Capital Division and reach a Division I district semifinal.
Seeded 21st in the 48-team district tournament, Canal Winchester lost to fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 6-1 on May 20 at Hilliard Darby.
Freshman Joey Young (2B) led the Indians in batting average (.403), hits (31) and RBI (23) to earn first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district honors. The Indians went 8-3 in an 11-game stretch between April 29 and May 18 before losing to the Patriots.
"We were very young this season, starting multiple freshmen and a sophomore," coach Tyler Kuhn said. "We'll lose several seniors for next season, (but we) have a great young class of freshmen. Joey Young ... is going to be a special player in the program."
Senior Trevor Mats (utility) batted .278 with 25 hits and 13 RBI. Senior Chase Moeller (INF/P) had a .277 average with 23 hits and 14 RBI, junior Reece Klamorick (P) hit .274 with 20 hits and 12 RBI and junior Ben Stevens (C/3B) batted .268 with 22 hits and 10 RBI.
Klamorick was 4-2 on the mound with a 2.68 ERA, 40 strikeouts and eight walks in 52 1/3 innings and was named second-team all-league, along with Mays. Senior Bryce Palmer was 2-4 with a 2.90 ERA, 36 strikeouts and 24 walks in 41 innings and was honorable mention all-league and senior Josh Browning was 4-1 with a 3.73 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 23 walks in 30 innings.
Sophomore Jacob Francis (OF) was special mention all-league.
Canal Winchester finished third in the OCC-Capital behind champion New Albany (14-1), which was ranked fourth in Division I in the final state poll and won its second consecutive district championship last week.