In the days leading up to the Division I state track and field meet, Caleb Levitt psyched himself up to compete in the high jump.
It seemed to work, as the senior placed sixth in a program-record 6 feet, 8 inches on June 1 at Ohio State to become the third athlete for the Hilliard Bradley High School boys program to reach the podium in as many seasons.
"For the past two days, I was telling myself that I was going to do well today," Levitt said. "I have been working all week. We have been working on the little things in terms of my technique and I came ready to go."
Last year, 2018 graduate Daevon Anderson was runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles (program-record 37.17 seconds) and placed third in the 110 hurdles (14.23). Another 2018 graduate, Alec Frymier, placed seventh in the 110 hurdles (14.28) in 2017.
"We had an excellent week of workouts and we were able to tweak some things," jumps coach Joel Frymier said. "Caleb worked his butt off (last) week and it paid off for him."
Levitt, who was the Jaguars' lone state qualifier, cleared 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 and 6-6 on his first attempts before missing his first attempts at 6-7 and 6-8. He came close to clearing 6-9, but failed to do so on all three attempts.
His previous program record was 6-6.
"I cleared everything through 6-6 on the first try," Levitt said. "Coach has been telling me how important it was to get the early jumps because that can affect where you finish. That's exactly what happened."
Coach Frymier said he could see the determination on Levitt's face prior to the competition.
"Caleb kept his focus and he came to jump," he said. "I could tell he was ready to jump when we got here this afternoon, and he had an overall great day."
Levitt scored three points for the Jaguars, who tied for 58th behind champion Pickerington Central (87) as 78 teams scored.
"Caleb had his best day of the year on the right day," seventh-year coach Ben Gadfield said. "He almost had 6-9. He came to jump, that's for sure."
Levitt qualified for state by placing third (6-5) in the regional meet that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North.
Also competing at regional were sophomore Kenyon Richardson in the long jump (11th, 20-11 1/4), senior Zeke Bennett in the 400 (12th, 51.93), junior David Metzler in the discus (14th, 122-9) and Levitt in the 300 hurdles (disqualified).
Levitt and Bennett led an eight-member senior class.
"This senior class played a big part in a lot of things we have done," Gadfield said. "They were a big part of our first (OCC-Cardinal Division) title (in 2018) and they had all kinds of all-league, all-district and now all-state honors with Caleb's performance. They definitely left a high mark for future programs to strive for."
Among those expected to return are Richardson, Metzler, juniors Matthew Drovdlic (sprints), Ibrahim Dumbuya (sprints/hurdles), Ethan Poff (jumps), Haydon Spaulding (distance) and Eli Schneider (distance) and sophomores Caden Burkhart (distance) and David Lamb (sprints).
"We have a lot of young sprinters and our whole distance crew coming back along with thrower David Metzler," Gadfield said. "We have a lot of experience coming back."
Girls team's season ended at regional
The girls team had its first regional qualifiers in three years, and all four of those athletes are expected to return.
Freshmen Gracelyn Peebles and Ashley Long and sophomores Brittany Amador and Ella Richardson combined to finish ninth in the 1,600 relay (4:08.64) at regional.
The Jaguars' previous regional qualifier was 2016 graduate Ariel Brown, who finished ninth in the 100 (12.81) as a senior.
"The girls were a little disappointed they finished ninth (in preliminaries) and weren't able to come back (for the final)," 10th-year coach Thom Nees said. "Still, it was a good experience for them."
Bradley is losing 15 seniors, led by Courtney Baith and Megan Mummert.
"We had a great senior class," Nees said. "Courtney really will be missed in the jumps and Megan came out of nowhere for us in the throws.
"We had some ups and down this season, but we continued to get better. Our younger kids came along well, especially in the sprints."
Among the other expected returnees is junior Emily Keck (throws).