Senior Toni Woods of the Groveport Madison High School girls track and field team will be making her first appearance in the Division I state meet after winning a regional title in the long jump.
Woods finished first in the regional meet that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North in 17 feet, 11 inches, as the top four finishers in each event automatically advanced to state Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.
"She has worked so hard to come back to overcome injuries this year and last year," coach Vincent Gay said. "Her winning the regional title was one of the best things, by far, I've ever seen. She was seeded fourth and actually dropped to fifth at one point, but she performed three jumps perfectly."
Woods was fifth with a jump of 17-2 1/2 before moving to the top of the standings with a 17-8 on her fifth attempt. She then jumped 17-11 on her sixth and final attempt, as Thomas Worthington's Sarah Charley placed second in 17-7 1/2.
"(Woods) has ice in her veins," Gay said. "I am so proud of her for all of the hard work she has put in for four years and to finally (get to state)."
Woods set the school record of 18-5 in the district 3 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby.
Also at regional, the 400-meter relay of Emily Allen, Makaila Boston, Atanna Gunnell and Woods finished 10th (50.1 seconds) and the 800 relay of Woods, Gunnell, Allen and Madi Young was 13th (1:47.05).
The Cruisers scored 10 points to place 21st behind champion Gahanna (89) as 38 teams scored.
The boys team will be represented at state by the 1,600 relay of senior Tahzmere Givens, juniors Tyrell Floyd and Rafael Soler and freshman Carl Allen, who finished sixth in a school-record 3:20.38, but earned the second at-large state berth based on times statewide.
Westerville Central (3:20.06) earned the first at-large berth.
"The boys ran a perfect race," Gay said. "They all ran personal-bests splits. Tyrell also lowered his school record in the 400. We had quite a day (May 24)."
Floyd placed seventh in the 400 (49.26) and also ran anchor on the seventh-place 800 relay behind Naseem Bowers, Soler and Allen (1:30). Soler finished ninth in the 800 (1:58.06) and Givens was ninth in the 300 hurdles (39.81), as Groveport scored seven points to finish 30th behind champion Pickerington Central (101) as 42 teams scored.
Baseball team ready for next season
First-year baseball coach Chris McKee believes next season could be a breakout year for his team after watching it place second in the OCC-Capital Division and reach a Division I district semifinal.
Groveport finished 13-11 overall after losing to top-seeded New Albany 4-3 in a district semifinal May 20 at Dublin Coffman. The 20th-seeded Cruisers led 3-0 entering the fifth inning and 3-2 entering the seventh.
Groveport went 10-5 in the OCC-Capital to place second behind New Albany (14-1). The Cruisers handed the Eagles their only loss, 4-1 on April 15. The Eagles are 27-1 entering a regional semifinal against Upper Arlington on Thursday, May 30.
"I was very pleased with our progress," McKee said. "... I think that finishing as OCC runners-up to a very good New Albany team, a sectional win and district semifinal appearance is very satisfying and gives us fuel to believe that we can do even more."
Groveport is losing just one senior in second baseman Logan Marburger, who batted .304 and was named special mention all-league.
"We'll miss Logan," McKee said. "He has been a Cruiser from birth and someone that we could always lean on. He is a three-year letterwinner."
Among the expected returnees are nine starters in juniors Austin Gautier (C/OF/P), Trey Mantle (P/1B), Robby Morgan (3B), Colin Rice (P/1B), Jeremey Slonaker (CF) and Austin Snyder (SS), sophomores Tyler McKee (P) and Jamell Mitchell (RF) and freshman Kyle Jennings (LF).
"While we only had one senior this season, we will be senior-heavy next year," coach McKee said. "Many of our key guys will be fourth-year letterwinners. I believe this season gave them a taste of what they are capable of achieving."
Mantle was 6-4 on the mound with a 1.57 ERA and was first-team all-league and all-district, Snyder batted .377 with 29 runs scored and 34 stolen bases and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district and Morgan hit .385 with eight doubles, four triples, 16 runs and 13 RBI and was first-team all-league.
Gautier (.269, 16 RBI) was second-team all-league and Rice (3-3, 2.47 ERA) was honorable mention all-league. McKee was 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA and batted .373.
Softball players receive honors
Several members of the softball team received postseason honors.
Senior Lanie White (SS) was named honorable mention all-state, first-team all-district and OCC-Capital Player of the Year, freshman Gabby Adams (RF) was second-team all-district and first-team all-league, junior Macie Sporleder (3B) was first-team all-league, junior Ally Maddy (P) and junior Kenzie Maddy (2B) were second-team all-league, freshman Kendyll Cahill (designated player) was special mention all-league and senior Lexi Wright (CF) was honorable mention all-league.
In addition, Chris Downing was named league Coach of the Year.
The Cruisers finished 20-7 overall after losing to Upper Arlington 11-7 in a Division I district semifinal May 13 and went 9-1 in the OCC-Capital to win their third consecutive league championship.