The Olentangy Berlin High School track and field program had two athletes competing in the Division II state meet.

Neither finished in the top eight to earn all-state status May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State, but coach Anthony Beggrow was pleased with the Bears' inaugural season.

"We stretched out the season to its furthest point," Beggrow said. "We had two athletes gain state experience and that can only help them in the future."

In the girls meet, junior Olivia Neidhardt finished 14th in the 1,600 meters in a program-record 5 minutes, 24.75 seconds.

"I'm really glad I was able to get a (personal record) here even though I would have wanted to run faster," Neidhardt said. "Going in, I knew that I was probably going to start toward the back because most of the girls go out stronger than I like to go. I stayed back and tried to make it competitive.

"(The atmosphere) was crazy. If you look at the stands there are more people here than I have been near in my life except for maybe going to watch an OSU football game. My teammates and my mom and dad were cheering me on. It was a great experience."

Beggrow said Neidhardt ran "an extremely smart" race.

"She was conservative on the first lap and then she hammered things out on the last three," Beggrow said. "I'm happy to see her get her best time at state."

In the boys meet, sophomore Luke Walden finished ninth in the pole vault with an effort of 14 feet, 2 inches.

"It was a really good experience overall, coming out here seeing the competition," Walden said. "I'm in shock, though, because I'm very surprised I didn't medal. But I'm a sophomore and I have more time ahead.

"I was really nervous coming in, but after the first couple of bars I settled down and got in the zone and was focused. It was crazy to see all of the people here watching us."

Walden was runner-up in the regional that concluded May 25 at Lexington with a program-record performance of 14-4.

"On those first lower bars, Luke wasn't jumping the way he normally does," vaulting coach Whitney Bice said. "He could feel that, but he was able to put it all together and make it past 14.

"I think this (experience at state) is going to motivate him. If we move up to Division I next year, the competition only gets harder and he has to be able to compete. He has to make bars on his first attempts. He jumped the same height as some of the (state placers) but it came down to who jumped it first."

Berlin had no seniors, so everyone is expected to return next season.

Also expected back for the boys team are juniors Benant Bukari (sprints), Gabe Chrysler (throws), Noah Dursik (throws), Izzy Foston (sprints), Ethan Harsh (hurdles), Ian Poehler (pole vault), Pietro Pozzi (middle distance/distance), Jacob Reitz (relays), Grant Schrieber (middle distance/distance) and Johnny Spinner (sprints) and sophomores Liam McGreevey (sprints), Corey Rinehart (distance) and Jeremy Troyer (throws).

Also expected back for the girls team are juniors Meghan Boggess (distance), Sierra Cardi (sprints), Maggie Conrad (pole vault), Anne Freeman (throws), Meghan Hill (sprints), Rebecca Koppelman (distance) and Cara Susey (hurdles), sophomores Aneesah Ahmed (sprints) and Skylar Stevenson (jumps, sprints) and freshman Maggie Conrad (pole vault).

"It's awesome to be able to have everyone back," Beggrow said. "I have a feeling we will have more than 130 kids out next year and a lot of them should be really talented."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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