Attention to detail helped Caleb Levitt of the Hilliard Bradley High School boys track and field team reach the Division I state meet.
The senior placed third in the high jump in the regional meet that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North by clearing 6 feet, 5 inches.
The top four finishers in each regional event automatically qualified for state Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State. In addition, two at-large berths were awarded in each event based on time, height or distance statewide.
"Instead of jumping into the bar, I have been working with (jumps) coach (Joel Frymier) on jumping vertically and then letting my form carry me over," Levitt said. "We also worked on my lean on my approach. I have been working to where I'm leaning on the outside, which will help me run into the bar before I reach my full height."
Levitt did not miss any attempts at regional until 6-4. After clearing 6-5, he missed all three attempts at 6-6.
"The three things that we worked on were his approach, his plant and his takeoff," Frymier said. "He was getting too close and on his drive up, he was tending to lean in a little early to the bar. When he gets on top of the bar, he needs to be getting his rotation fast enough (to get over). He cleaned up two of them (at regional) and he has plenty of height. Now he has to rotate on getting over (the bar)."
Levitt, who holds the program record (6-6) in the high jump, was the lone state qualifier for Bradley. He scored all six points for the Jaguars, who tied for 31st behind champion Pickerington Central (101) as 42 teams scored.
Also competing at regional were Kenyon Richardson in the long jump (11th, 20-11 1/4), Zeke Bennett in the 400 meters (12th, 51.93 seconds), David Metzler in the discus (14th, 122-9) and Levitt in the 300 hurdles (disqualified).
Competing at regional for the girls team was the 1,600 relay of Gracelyn Peebles, Ashley Long, Brittany Amador and Ella Richardson. The foursome finished ninth (4:08.64) as the Jaguars failed to score.
Baseball team edged in district final
The baseball team reached a district final for the first time in eight years, but lost 1-0 to second-seeded Lancaster on May 23 in a Division I contest at Hamilton Township.
The 11th-seeded Jaguars, whose previous district final appearance came in 2011 when they lost to Jonathan Alder 7-3 in Division II, finished 17-13 overall.
"The difference in the game was (Lancaster) strung together their hits and we didn't," second-year coach Nate Hillery said. "They have experience and they have been here before. It was just a great baseball game."
Lancaster, which scored the only run with a two-out single in the fifth inning, improved to 26-3 and earned its second consecutive district championship.
The Jaguars managed just two hits off Golden Gales pitcher Garrick Davis, who struck out one and walked three. Senior Luke Barren and junior Dillon Ysseldyke both had a single for Bradley, while sophomore pitcher Caleb Jenkins struck out five and walked three in the loss.
Bradley defeated eighth-seeded Pickerington North 2-1 in a district semifinal May 21 at Ohio Dominican. Barren pitched a three-hitter with five strikeouts, and Barren, Ysseldyke and senior Drew Donaldson all singled.
"This team loved to be around each other more than any team I have ever had," said Hillery, whose team finished third (9-5) in the OCC-Cardinal Division behind Darby (11-3) and Dublin Scioto (10-4). "When we got to the point when we started to jell, you could see there was a real love and a brotherhood."
The Jaguars are losing five seniors in Barren (P/3B), Donaldson (SS), Dalton Planck (1B), Brandon Tuller (3B/P) and Nathan Weita (3B).
A Lake Erie College recruit, Donaldson led the Jaguars in batting average (.344) and runs scored (23) and had 13 RBI and six stolen bases. He was named honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league.
An Otterbein recruit, Barren (second-team all-district, first-team all-league) batted .265 with two home runs, 12 RBI and 18 runs and was 7-2 on the mound with an 1.89 ERA, 48 strikeouts and 11 walks in 70 1/3 innings.
Planck batted .316 with 17 RBI and 15 runs and Weita batted .217 but led the team in home runs (3), RBI (18) and doubles (7) and scored 13 runs.
"The seniors not only set the tone on the field, but culturally as well," Hillery said. "What's acceptable with how you work? What's acceptable in the classroom? What will you do for your teammates? Those intangible things, this group had it."
Junior Luke Wolfgram-Evans (2B) batted .292 with 14 RBI, 12 runs and a team-high nine stolen bases and Ysseldyke (1B/OF) batted .287 with two home runs, 15 RBI and 20 runs.
On the mound, Jenkins (second-team all-league) was 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA, 23 strikeouts and 14 walks in 28 innings and junior Zach Komlosi (honorable mention all-league) was 3-2 with a 1.79 ERA, 21 strikeouts and 10 walks in 31 1/3 innings.
Other expected returnees include juniors Cameron Medley (C) and Brandon Edwards (CF).
"We should return 14 of the 19 guys with varsity jerseys next year and have two of our top pitchers back," Hillery said. "We fully expect to be back (in a district final) next year."
Volleyball team falls in regional semifinal
The seventh-seeded boys volleyball team lost at second-seeded Mount Vernon 25-23, 25-18, 27-25 in a Division I East Region semifinal May 21 to finish 15-7 overall.
The Jaguars, who went 10-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to place third behind Darby (14-0) and Dublin Jerome (11-3), are losing three seniors in right-side hitter Garrett Creek, middle hitter Joe Fadley and libero Attia Soliman.
Fadley had 154 kills and a team-leading 112 blocks and was named special mention all-league, and Soliman, a Lincoln Memorial University recruit, had 296 digs, 78 assists and 28 aces and was honorable mention all-region and first-team all-league.
"Attia and Joe were very much the heart and soul of our program from the standpoint of leadership and work ethic," ninth-year coach Zach Franklin said. "Attia has been a four-year starter at three positions for us, which is extremely rare for a player to do.
"Joe started playing last year and worked incredibly hard to pick up on all of the skills, both in hitting and blocking. He was a major asset and our second-best and most consistent offensive player."
Sophomore outside hitter Jonah Gilbert (first-team all-region and all-league) led Bradley with 570 kills (7.5 per game) and had 97 blocks and 35 aces. Sophomore setter Tak Tam (honorable mention all-league) also is expected to return, as is his twin brother, Jin Tam, a sophomore defensive specialist.
"Coming back, we still have our biggest and most intimidating offensive threat in Jonah as well as Tak continuing his role as a setter for a third year on varsity," Franklin said. "We truly had a successful season starting with our defense and Jin will return to libero, which he played as a freshman, and we look to continue as an all-around defensive team."
Boys lacrosse team gained experience
The boys lacrosse team expects to return three key juniors after finishing 3-13 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Midfielder Matt Humphreys led the team with 50 points, midfielder Laith Abusalha had a program-record 120 ground balls and was named honorable mention all-league and defender Brennen Walker anchored the Jaguars' defense.
The Jaguars are losing 12 seniors.
"We had a lot of adversity this year with key members of the team going down with injuries," second-year coach Alex Gossard said. "It really did hurt us as first, but this opened a window for some of the younger guys to step up and get game reps that will make them better moving forward.
"The team improved by getting more game experience, but a lot of our starting lineup this year was young. ... I would say the biggest thing the guys need to do moving into next season is keep hitting the wall and crushing the weight room."