The St. Charles Preparatory School track and field team did not have the success it had hoped for in the Division I state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State, but second-year coach John Leskovich said the Cardinals laid the groundwork for future success.
Leskovich helped build the program to where it had its most state competitors since 2004. However, success at the final meet of the season was limited because of a hamstring injury to junior sprinter Kaleb Simpson.
"Kaleb had a mild hamstring pull at regional so we had deep-tissue massage therapy and everything we could for him this week," Leskovich said. "We decided to put him in the 100 to see where he was at. He has this second gear that he can go to and he wasn't able to accelerate."
Simpson finished second in the 100 meters (10.89 seconds) in the regional meet May 24 at Pickerington North, but started having hamstring problems in the 200 when he finished eighth (55.85).
In his preliminary at state, Simpson was slowed by the injury and finished 18th (11.48). The injury forced him to sit out of the 400 relay. Junior David Rodriguez replaced Simpson, joining sophomore Isaiah Yarngo, senior Justin Efebera and junior Roland Rowe to finish 15th (43.37).
"We had to substitute Kaleb in the relay and that was a game-changer for the relay as well," Leskovich said. "The guys were really disappointed and they should be. It should give them the drive to come back here and do better."
Also competing at state was sophomore Owen Karas, who finished 18th in the 3,200 (10:19.06).
"I was nervous going into the race," said Karas, who ran a personal-best 9:26.1 to finish second in the event at regional. "The plan was to stay with the two fastest guys, but it didn't work out."
Leskovich said the biggest thing for Karas was getting experience at state.
"Owen has been there and done that now and he knows what to expect now," Leskovich said.
Efebera led a 10-athlete senior class for the Cardinals, who won their fifth CCL title in seven seasons.
Karas, Rodriguez, Rowe, Simpson and Yarngo are the top performers expected to return along with junior distance runner Ethan Encarnacion and junior sprinter Nick Rivera.
"We did well this year, and we're looking forward to big things next year," Leskovich said.
"We have distance guys coming back and our whole sprint corps coming back, so we're pretty excited."