Olentangy Liberty High School senior Gavin Smith was on edge after he finished fifth in the long jump in the Division I regional boys track and field meet May 22 at Pickerington North.

With a jump of 22 feet, 1 1/2 inches, Smith just missed earning the final automatic qualifying berth for state behind fourth-place finisher Elijah Young of Worthington Kilbourne (22-1 3/4).

There still was hope Smith could earn one of the state's two at-large berths, however, and that's exactly what happened.

"Since I didn't initially qualify into one of the automatic spots, I was really freaked out and I ended up just checking my phone constantly," Smith said. "Ultimately I saw that I made it and I went berserk."

Smith will be joined at state by senior Luke Bendick, who cleared 16-4 3/4 in the pole vault to capture the regional title May 22.

Both Smith and Bendick will compete Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.

Smith would have been runner-up in two of the four regionals and enters the 18-member state field after tying for the 10th-best regional jump statewide.

Bendick will enter state as one of the favorites to win his event.

On March 2 at the state indoor meet, Bendick vaulted 16-0 to finish runner-up to Vandalia-Butler junior Dalton Shepler (16-6).

Those two figure to go at it again at state after Shepler won a regional title with a 16-10.

"I'm very excited," Bendick said. "I got on a 16-foot pole for the first time and everything was working really well. I didn't go as high as I would have hoped to, but I'm going to state so I'm very blessed with that. Dalton Shepler jumped 16-10 so I'm heading in as No. 2 and that motivates me."

The boys finished 10th (22.5) at regional behind champion Pickerington Central (101) as 42 teams scored and the girls tied for 27th (6) behind champion Gahanna (89) as 38 teams scored.

The boys 400 relay of Alex Adams, Justin Chrisman, Smith and Ubby Suligavi placed sixth in a program-record 42.79 but came up short of advancing by just .12 of a second.

"We really sharpened our handoffs," Chrisman said.

Another sixth-place finisher for the boys was its 3,200 relay of Joseph Johnson, Drew Folwarczny, Adam Clark and Drew Boggs (8:03.44).

Also reaching the podium were Folwarczny in the 800 (seventh, 1:57.23) and Nick Ruppe in the pole vault (eighth, 13-0).

The girls team did not have any athletes advance to state as Noelle Meeker was the top finisher, placing sixth in the pole vault (10-8).

Gracie Sprankle was seventh in the 3,200 (11:20.24) and the 400 relay of Nicole Tonetti, Sienna Sakich, Sydney Reed and Jessica Barna was eighth (49.71).

Also competing were the 3,200 relay of Sprankle, Audrey Piero, Linnea Kunesh and Madeline Ailes (ninth, 9:50.86), Ava Howski in the pole vault (ninth, 10-4), Mollie Kunar in the shot put (ninth, 35-11 3/4), Taylor Weiss in the high jump (ninth, 5-1), Tonetti in the long jump (10th, 16-9 3/4), Kunesh in the 1,600 (13th, 5:23.05), Piero in the 1,600 (15th, 5:34.99) and Sarah Gilbert in the 3,200 (16th, 12:48.5).

Baseball team falls in district final

The fifth-seeded baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to tie seventh-seeded Upper Arlington in a Division I district final May 22 at Dublin Coffman, but ended up falling 4-3 to finish 23-6.

A pair of umpire calls impacted the final result, one of which went for the Patriots and one that went against them.

Liberty tied it at 3 in the sixth inning when Craig Lutwen flew out to Ben Krimm in right field. Corbin Parrish tagged up from third base and Krimm's throw beat him home, but UA catcher Sammy Sass was called for interference for blocking the plate.

In the top seventh, UA's Tommy Dilz singled and moved to third on a single by Sass. Jack Metzger then was called for a balk and Dilz scored the go-ahead run.

"In a condensed seven-inning atmosphere, you can do a lot of things well and have it not work out," coach Ty Brenning said. "If you were going to beat Liberty this year, things were going to have to really work out for you. It wasn't our night, give Upper Arlington credit. They did a lot of things well. Unfortunately, we came up one run short."

Doubles team competes at state

Junior Marcelo Aguilar and sophomore Vishnu Bodavula had their season end in the Division I state boys tennis tournament May 24 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

In a first-round doubles match against Findlay's Drew Swisher and Max Hosey, Aguilar and Bodavula forced a third set but lost 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

They were the first doubles team to represent the program at state.

"Those two have been pushing each other since maybe back in November," coach Josh Matusky said. "They went for it and it was well-deserved. They're strong, powerful players and they were able to approach the net off those powerful strokes. They talk, they communicate and that's something that got better. They played singles all year, but you could never guess (by watching them)."

Aguilar and Bodavula won a sectional title May 11 at Hilliard Bradley before finishing fourth at district May 18 at Reynoldsburg.

The Patriots' other doubles entrant in the postseason was the team of sophomores Arvind Nair and Nandha Srivenkates-waran. Competing in singles were juniors Tarun Nandakumar and Srihar Chakravarthy and sophomore Matthew Bu.

Sophomore Saketh Chirumamilla also is eligible to return for the Patriots, who went 10-6 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.

"This was the best season we've had," Matusky said. "It was a good group."

Girls lacrosse team to return solid group

Although the girls lacrosse team loses one of the area's top players in senior midfielder Molly Bursinger, coach Tim Bosco is confident in the group eligible to return.

Leading that group are juniors Lauren Buddie (midfielder), Paige Haughn (attacker) and Emma Shear (midfielder). Buddie had 30 goals, 10 assists and 38 ground balls, Shear had 30 goals, nine assists and 45 ground balls and Haughn had 23 goals and 28 assists.

Liberty finished 13-6 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye. Its season ended May 20 with a 14-13 loss to second-seeded Olentangy in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal. The Patriots were the third seed.

"I have 10 seniors returning for next season that will form the heart of the team," coach Tim Bosco said. "All 10 will be major contributors and expectations will be high to take this team to the next level."

Bursinger had 73 goals, 10 assists, 106 draw controls and 60 ground balls. Other key seniors included defenders Kara Bradley and Addie Druckenbroad and attackers Rory Ball and Allie Mitchell. Ball had 24 goals and 13 assists, and Mitchell had 21 goals and five assists.

Others eligible to return include juniors Anna Benton (defender), Sam Frantz (defen-der), Sydney Miller (defender), Lauren Newcomb (midfielder), Gillian O'Rourke (goalie), Julia Swaro (midfielder/attacker) and Dani Worrell (attacker), sophomore Kelsey Eckhert (defender) and freshman Ava Guagenti (midfielder).

"Given that I was a first-year head coach with a lot of new philosophies to implement, I thought that we improved so much from the start of the season," Bosco said.

Much of volleyball team to return

The eighth-seeded boys volleyball team had its season end with a 29-31, 25-19, 25-21, 30-28 loss to sixth-seeded Coffman in a Division I, East Region semifinal May 21 at Hilliard Darby.

The Patriots went 13-8 overall and shared the OCC-Buckeye title with Olentangy at 7-1.

A four-member senior class was led by middle hitter Llwyatt Hofer and outside hitter Rithvik Potluri.

Juniors Nick Irelan (outside hitter), Sean McCabe (setter) and Jacob Myers (libero) and sophomore Tyus Thompson (right-side hitter) should lead the returning players.

Others eligible to return include juniors Michael Lucas (defensive specialist), Ian McCabe (defensive specialist), Chase Moran (right-side hitter), Nathan Northup (outside hitter) and Justin Sachtleben (defensive specialist).

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek