The Groveport Madison High School boys track and field team finished its season in style.
The 1,600-meter relay of senior Tahzmere Givens, juniors Tyrell Floyd and Rafael Soler and freshman Carl Allen set the Cruisers' fourth school record this season in the final event of the Division I state meet June 1 at Ohio State.
The relay finished sixth in 3 minutes, 19.51 seconds.
"We wanted to place higher than our seed going into finals and we did that by two places, and we wanted to break the school record again and we did that," said Givens, who ran the second leg. "We didn't run our best in the prelims and we didn't run well at the indoor state meet, so we wanted this bad.
"But it was a long wait with it being the last event of the day and we were psyched up because of the prelims. But the improvement we made all season was incredible."
The Cruisers were eighth (3:21.13) in their preliminary heat.
"We were grinding all season and it paid off," Floyd said. "We all believed and expected we could do this, but it was crazy to run in front of that many people."
The relay previously had set the school record in the regional meet that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North when it placed sixth in 3:20.38. The Cruisers advanced to state with an at-large berth.
"We were pretty motivated because (of the at-large berth) and because we didn't run our best in prelims," Soler said. "We're pretty excited about the chances of coming back next year even though we'll have to replace (Givens). Carl is just a freshman and he's been running amazing times, and Tyrell also is a great runner."
Allen believes he'll run even better times next year and promises to be more relaxed if he returns to state.
"I was so nervous, you wouldn't believe it," he said. "When I saw everyone up there and knowing we were running against great competition, I felt a little sick. But once we took off, that went away. This gives us confidence for next year."
Floyd set the school record in the 400 (49.26) at regional, Soler set the school record in the 800 (1:57.98) in the district 2 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby and Soler, senior Peyton Baker and juniors Sam Hoyte and Illyaas Haji set the school mark in the 3,200 relay (8:23.67) in the OCC-Capital Division meet that concluded May 11 at Groveport.
The Cruisers scored in nine events at district and advanced to regional in five events. Also competing at regional were the 800 relay of senior Naseem Bowers, Soler, Allen and Floyd (seventh, 1:30), Soler in the 800 (ninth, 1:58.06) and Givens in the 300 hurdles (ninth, 39.81).
"We're losing some key seniors in Tahzmere, Peyton, Naseem and Isaac Butler, but we're returning a lot of experience and valuable athletes after competing at state for the first time since 2012, so we're going to build on this," coach Vincent Gay said. "We're young and we're not done yet. We're back on the map and we're not going away."
Other expected returnees include junior Darrell Smoot, sophomores Kahari Davis, Marques Holmes, Jashawn McGraw and Jon Motton and freshmen Markell Holmes and Harris Musungu.
Senior Toni Woods represented the girls team at state, finishing 10th in the long jump in 17 feet, 3 inches.
"She fouled on her first two attempts and then got into the top nine and it looked like she would make it to the finals, but (Chloe Rickson of Bay Village Bay) went 17-4 1/2 on her final attempt to knock (Woods) out," Gay said. "(Woods) was a little cautious with her last jump after fouling on the first two. If she had been closer to the board, I think she would've hit an 18. But she had a tremendous season and broke her own school record several times."
Woods won the regional title in 17-11, which would've gotten her fifth place at state, and set the school record of 18-5 in the district 3 meet that concluded May 18 at Darby.
Also competing at regional were the 400 relay of senior Emily Allen, junior Makaila Boston, sophomore Atanna Gunnell and Woods (10th, 50.1) and the 800 relay of Woods, Gunnell, Allen and senior Madi Young (13th, 1:47.05).
"We're losing some talented seniors in Woods, Madi Young, Victoria Williams and Emily Allen, and (the girls) were a very young team," Gay said. "The seniors were strong leaders. There are a bunch of sophomores coming back and potential across the board."
Other expected returnees include juniors Cherub Clarke, Madison Newsom and Melanie Torres, sophomores Emani Anthony, Isabella Burholt, Gracia Musa, Chenise Smith, Amara Towns and Danasha Winfield and freshman Kalista Milne.