Senior Elijah Young of the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys track and field team saved his best for last.
After finishing 13th in the long jump in the Division I state meet last year and 16th in the pole vault at state in 2017, Young reached the awards podium by placing sixth in the long jump (23 feet, 4 1/2 inches) on June 1 at Ohio State.
Young leaped 21-1 3/4 at state last season.
"He was so relaxed and calm and ready to go this year and you could see that in the walk-through (May 30)," coach Josh Stegman said. "But the way the competition unfolded had me very nervous and anxious. He fouled on his first two attempts in his flight before hitting a 22-2 3/4 to get into the finals. Then he fouled on his first two attempts in the finals before improving his school record to 23-4 1/2 on his final attempt."
Young, who has committed to play football at Wheeling Jesuit and may compete in track and field as well, said his previous state experience paid dividends.
"I just wanted to represent my school the best I could, but then the wind picked up in the second flight and all I wanted to do was get into the finals," Young said. "But I didn't panic. I was a lot less nervous this time around. Once I got into the finals, I said, 'Let's go get the record.'"
Young set the previous mark of 22-9 3/4 when he won the title in the district 2 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby. He advanced to state by placing fourth (22-1 3/4) in the regional meet that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North.
Young overcame a knee injury to reach state this season, as he sustained an ACL injury in September playing football and didn't begin competing in track until late in the regular season.
"When he was injured playing football, trainers told me it was unlikely he would be back at full strength for the track season," Stegman said. "So despite his progress in rehabilitation, I was not relying on him because I didn't want to get my hopes up. But all of his hard work and determination to get back paid off for him and he was our only athlete to qualify for state. I can't tell you how outstanding and incredible his journey has been."
Also competing at regional were junior Tanner Williams in the 3,200 meters (fifth, school-record 9 minutes, 27.7 seconds), sophomore Terrique Gray in the high jump (tied for ninth, 6-0) and senior Jack Begley in the 3,200 (11th, 9:42.91).
Young and Begley were part of a 10-member senior class.
"We'll miss them all, but from a competitive and leadership view, Elijah and Jack will be tough to replace," Stegman said. "Peyton Span was a four-year guy and Max Shafran was a strong contributor and a good fit and Johnny Berardi did some nice things, too.
"But our strength is in the junior class, where we had 28 guys on the roster. I think we'll have scorers across the board and see a lot of guys really step up with breakout seasons next year."
Other expected returnees include juniors Asa Compton, John Cuozzo, Sam English, Michael Flynn, Carter Haase, Gabe Knuth, Michael Richardson, Hayden Shaffer and Griffin Wilson, sophomore Luke Compton and freshman Luke Miller.
The girls team ended its season at regional, where junior Sasha Bomser finished 11th in the 1,600 (5:21.25) and classmate Chidima Anaraodo was 13th in the discus (103-9).
The Wolves are losing six seniors. Other expected returnees include juniors Chloe Emberton, Alexis Hudson, Alyssa Hudson and Victoria Stavish, sophomores Ella Brown, Amya Harris, Sylvia Long and Lauren Richner and freshmen Grace Fronczak, Maggie Stewart and Riley Tate.
Boys lacrosse team losing 11 seniors
The boys lacrosse team is losing 11 seniors after finishing 17-5 overall and reaching the Division I, Region 3 final, where it lost to top-seeded Upper Arlington 13-7 on May 24 at Westerville Central.
The Wolves were seeded second in the region and won three postseason games, including defeating fourth-seeded Centerville 7-6 in overtime in a semifinal May 21, before falling to the Golden Bears.
Among the seniors were goalkeeper Dane Jackson and defender Adam Clay, who were named region Player of the Year at their respective positions. In addition, seniors Jack Ellis (midfielder) and Hayden Sydnor (defender) were named second-team all-region and senior Jake LeVette (midfielder) was honorable mention all-region.
The Wolves went 6-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place second behind Dublin Jerome (7-0).
Jackson, who made 156 saves and had a .557 save percentage this season and holds the program record for career saves with 595, was named league Player of the Year. Clay also was first-team all-league, while Ellis and Sydnor were second-team all-league and LeVette was honorable mention all-league.
Clay recorded 30 ground balls and caused 18 turnovers, Sydnor had 46 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers, Ellis had 25 goals and nine assists and LeVette had 37 goals and nine assists.
Among the expected returnees are junior attackers Will Alban, Carson Kott and Max Kott, junior long-stick midfielder Paul Jarvis, sophomore faceoff midfielder Harrison Kline and sophomore midfielder Ian Schupp.
Alban had 23 goals and a program-record 80 assists, Carson Kott had 63 goals and 20 assists and Max Kott had 40 goals and 11 assists.
All three were first-team all-region. Carson Kott and Max Kott also were first-team all-league and Alban was second-team all-league. Jarvis and Kline were second-team all-league.
"We're losing a lot of talent, but we have a lot of weapons coming back, especially in the attack," said interim coach Mike Riffee, who was named region Man of the Year. "I think this team is in good position to make another strong run next year."
Riffee, however, does not expect to return as coach. He stepped in to lead the program this season after Mike Lippert stepped aside last fall.
"I've been around a long time and told everyone I was stepping in to help for one year, but they'll be looking for someone next season and whoever gets the position should be pleased with what is returning," Riffee said.