As he and three of his teammates savored the silver medals they earned in the Division I state boys track and field meet June 1 at Ohio State, Reynoldsburg High School junior Muhammad Fall reflected on how far the group had come.
He and classmate Doniven Jackson ran on the 1,600-meter relay at state last spring, and Fall made his first appearance at state in the 300 hurdles a season ago, but neither Fall nor that relay placed in the top eight to earn a spot on the podium.
This year, Fall ended up on the podium in the 110 hurdles, as did the 800 relay anchored by Jackson.
"It feels great," Fall said. "We broke our school record (in the 800 relay). It was a good year altogether. If you look at what we did from last year to this year, it's a major improvement. Last year, we didn't even get to (a state final)."
The 800 relay, which was led off by junior Adrian Logan followed by Fall, senior Keyshawn Brown and Jackson, earned a runner-up finish in 1 minute, 26.64 seconds as Pickerington Central set the state record of 1:24.42.
It was the third time in four weeks that Reynoldsburg's relay had gone head-to-head with the Tigers, but it was the first time Central used the combination of seniors Denzell Feagin, Evan Matthews and Terry Simuel and sophomore Lorenzo Styles.
According to Jackson, the Raiders knew what they were facing and focused on making clean handoffs after earning a runner-up finish in the event, behind Central, in the OCC-Ohio Division meet May 11 at Groveport and a third-place finish in the regional May 24 at Pickerington North.
The relay won a title in the district 3 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby, as the Raiders captured the team championship.
"I feel like I could have come out stronger out of the blocks," Brown said. "Coming on to the straight-away was really different for me but it felt good."
Fall settled for 10th in the 300 hurdles at state last season but ended up with more success in the 110 hurdles this spring, turning in a fourth-place finish (14.56).
Reynoldsburg finished with 13 points at state to tie for 14th behind champion Central (87) as 78 teams scored.
"I feel like I gave it my all, but the competition was definitely there," Fall said.
At regional, Fall was runner-up in the 110 hurdles (14.27) and the 800 relay was third (1:27.58).
Also scoring were senior Jeremiah Burton in the shot put (sixth, 51 feet, 1 3/4 inches), Jackson in the 100 (sixth, 11.19), junior Wendesen King in the 800 (sixth, 1:56.68) and the 1,600 relay of Brown, King and sophomores Kyle Cannon and Seth Davis (eighth, 3:27.89).
The other regional competitors were Jackson in the 200 (11th, 22.67), Brown in the 100 (12th, 11.5), senior Camby Goff in the long jump (12th, 20-8 3/4), the 3,200 relay of junior Breyon Eddings, King and sophomores Seth Davis and Mars Davis (ninth, 8:11.14), Fall in the 300 hurdles (did not finish) and the 400 relay of Brown, Jackson, Logan and senior Dionte Roddy (did not finish).
Others eligible to return include junior Shon Strickland (high jump), sophomores Aaron Harding (shot put) and Andre Turner (long jump) and freshman William Popich (discus).
"We came and did what we wanted to do all season," Logan said. "(Doing well at state) is what we practiced for and we came out and did it."
Girls team reaches state podium twice
The girls team scored eight points in the Division I state meet to tie for 24th behind champion Liberty Township Lakota East (65) as 68 teams scored.
The 400 relay of sophomore Adja Mbow, junior Jessica Ricks, freshman Jamiona Ross and sophomore Mya Graham finished fourth (48.09).
The same four won a district 3 title and were runners-up in both the OCC-Ohio and regional meets.
"I expected it to be a little faster because of states, but I feel like fourth isn't bad," Mbow said.
Ricks also reached the podium with a sixth-place finish in the 100 hurdles (14.93) after she was 10th last season.
"I'm happy I got a medal, but I've run faster before so I'm not happy with my time," she said. "I think it'll be good next year.
"(Our 400 relay) was good this year and next year we'll try to be higher. I felt like our handoffs were good."
At regional, the 800 relay was runner-up (48.25), as was Ricks in the 100 hurdles (14.68).
In addition, freshman Milan Patterson was ninth in the long jump (16-10 1/4), Graham finished 13th in the 200 (26.53), Ricks placed 12th in the 100 (12.93) and the 1,600 relay of Mbow, Graham, Ross and senior Bre Johnson was 14th (4:19.44).
Junior Olivia Olverson, sophomore Kasha Rhodes, Patterson and Johnson ran on the 800 relay that was fifth (1:48.17) at district.
Others eligible to return include junior Autumn Byers (high jump), sophomores Alyse Powell (distance) and Kristin Sheets (distance) and freshman Abby Robinson (middle distance).