Notebook: Mason Louis, Sydnie Smith excel for Bexley Lions track and field teams at state
A pair of sophomores gave the Bexley track and field program much to look forward to in the next two seasons after one winning performance and a runner-up effort at state.
Mason Louis won the boys 400 meters (47.54 seconds), placed third in the 100 (11.16) and finished fifth in the 200 (22.46) in the Division II state meet June 4 and 5 at Pickerington North.
In the Division I state meet at Hilliard Darby, Sydnie Smith was runner-up in the girls discus (131 feet, 10 inches).
The two made their marks in program history. Louis was the first state champion for the Lions since Charlotte Meyers won the girls 400 (55.87) in Division II in 2011. He was the first boys champion since Mike Millard won the 800 (1:54.04) in Class AA in 1986.
“I think it went well. I put in a lot of work and the results are showing,” Louis said. “For the future, I just want to lift and get stronger and continue to drop my times and hopefully run in college, so that’s the plan.”
Smith became the first girls thrower to place at state. She also was the first discus competitor to qualify for state.
“Sydnie had a lot of firsts this season and it was great to see her finish second in our first season in Division I,” said girls coach Jamie Hayes, who completed her ninth season. “It was amazing to see her do this in Division I after not having last season (because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic). She’s just so much fun to watch.”
Louis had the best times during the preliminary heats in the 100 (10.95) and 200 (21.86) but was fourth in the 400 (48.34). The 400 was the race that netted him his first state title, however, as he edged out Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph senior Jordan Dean (47.74).
“In the 100, I usually try to get out fast and just keep doing what I’m doing, and it didn’t really go the way that I wanted,” Louis said. “So I just told myself to get back at them in the 400 and I knew I had a plan to get out fast and stick with the guy in lane 4 (Dean) because he’s a good competitor. I knew he was going to be good to just run off of and finish out strong.”
Boys coach Shane Roberts said Louis followed the game plan to the letter.
“We talked about how he got a good lane so he could get on (Dean)’s hip, and he rode him,” said Roberts, who completed his ninth season. “(Dean) made a kick, and then it was just who could kick longer. Mason out-kicked him.”
Senior Spencer Stevenson finished 11th in the 800 (1:58.1).
“About 200 meters in I got super-boxed, and I just couldn’t get out of it because there were too many people,” said Stevenson, who will try to walk on at the Air Force Academy. “I had a guy step on the back of my heel and it took off my spike, but you just have to run through. Given the circumstances, I don’t think it was a bad run, but it’s not what I was hoping for.”
In the shot put, Smith finished 15th with an effort of 36-5 1/2. She was pleased with her runner-up performance in the discus.
“Coming into it, it was like, ‘Let’s just PR,’ ” Smith said. “There were a lot of really good throwers, so I wanted to just make the finals and go from there.”
Throws coach Carleton McGrady said Smith believed in their approach to training, and success followed.
“We build the program that way,” he said. “I tell them they have to trust the process and then when we get to the postseason they’ll get better every week. Sydnie has been doing that. She threw 115-6 in the (MSL-Ohio Division meet), 121-4 in the district (1 meet), 124-6 at regional and then 131-10 at state.
“She started working on her technique more (in the discus) and really started believing in herself. I think once she started hitting triple digits consistently, she really started to believe what she could do.”
Senior Maria Steinke finished 16th in the 3,200 (11:35.99) at state, while the boys 1,600 relay of Stevenson, senior William Petry, junior Nicholas Eddy and Louis was 13th (3:30.19).
“It’s a big thing just to get here,” Roberts said. “Not so many people get to go to the state finals, so to have guys competing was a blessing, especially after (losing) last year. I felt like they all competed to the best of their ability, and that’s all we can ask for on the last (meet) of the season.”
Freshmen Solomon McDow and Athanasius Young are distance runners also expected to return for the boys team.
Other key performers expected back for the girls include junior Claire MacDonald (distance), sophomores Rylee Barno (distance) and Sofia Sheridan (sprints, long jump) and freshman sprinters Isabel Niermeyer and Jenna Plank.
•Owen Karas finished his stellar career with the St. Charles track team by reaching the podium in the Division I state meet.
The senior was sixth in the 1,600 in a program-record 4:14.96, just 0.67 behind second-place Seth Elking of Miamisburg.
“Owen ran a great race, and it was the race we planned,” third-year coach John Leskovich said. “The way the race finished, anyone in that last group could have been anywhere from second through sixth.
“We’re happy that he saved his best race for last, setting a new school record and a PR. We’re happy with the way things turned out.”
Sixth place in the 1,600 ran in the family at state, with Karas’ sophomore sister, Watterson’s Erin Karas, finishing in 5:02.83.
“It was great to see (Erin place as well),” Leskovich said. “We thanked his sister for not placing better than sixth, because that would have been a family issue for years to come if she had.”
Owen Karas was fourth in the 1,600 (4:22.61) at regional.
In the CCL meet, Karas won the 800 (1:57.04), 1,600 (4:21.28) and 3,200 (9:39.23).
Also winning CCL titles were seniors Liam Quinlan (high jump, 5-10), Brady Westin (400, 51.29) and Isaiah Yarngo (200, 22.72) and sophomore Derek Lyons (long jump, 19-10). The 1,600 relay of junior Trenton Wells, Lyons, Yarngo and Westin won in 3:32.14.
“We need to get more depth,” Leskovich said. “We won eight events and Watterson only won half of that but beat us (for the team title) by 35 points.”
Juniors Will Cromley (sprints), Paul Messerly (throws) and Paul Roginski (sprints, jumps) also are expected to be key contributors next season.
•The Columbus School for Girls track team was represented in the Division II state meet by the 1,600 relay of freshman Jameson Pillifant, juniors Carly Priest and Kayden Edwards and freshman Fabi Corso. The relay finished 11th in 4:08.42.
During the regional May 27 and 29 at Lexington, the relay placed fifth (4:05.03) but earned an at-large berth at state.
The Unicorns also competed in two other relays at regional. The 3,200 relay of Priest, junior Lauren Sloan, Pillifant and Corso was sixth (9:50.13), while junior Emma Spangler, Edwards, Pillifant and senior Nyah Funderburke were on the 800 relay that placed 11th (1:50.92).
Edwards was the top scorer in the MSL-Ohio meet, totaling 22.75 points. She won the 100 hurdles (16.4) and 300 hurdles (48.97) and was on the third-place 400 relay (52.59) with junior Sophia Nagy, Pillifant and Funderburke. She also was a member of the fourth-place 800 relay (1:51.78) with sophomore Ciara Latham, Spangler and Funderburke.
Corso was first in the 800 (2:23.88).
•An era ended for St. Charles tennis with the graduation of Reece Yakubov, who qualified three times for the Division I state tournament.
Yakubov defeated Springboro’s Sai Dore 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round May 28 before losing 6-3, 6-4 to Cleveland St. Ignatius’ Nate Day in a quarterfinal.
The Ohio State signee lost to Dore 6-3, 6-3 in a state quarterfinal as a sophomore.
As a freshman, Yakubov teamed with 2018 graduate Jack Dabek to finish second in doubles.
Yakubov won a sectional title May 15 at Hilliard Bradley before placing third at district May 22 at Reynoldsburg.
The Cardinals finished 9-5 overall and went 4-0 in the CCL to capture their ninth consecutive league title.
Seniors Keller Bueneman and Andy Somodi finished fourth at sectional but lost their opening doubles match at district.
Also competing at sectional were junior Brady Pema and freshman Victor Roscoe in singles and the doubles team of senior Daniel Marino and junior Daniel Ferguson.
BEXLEY TRACK & FIELD
•MSL-Ohio standings: Boys — Grandview (176), Bexley (109), Whitehall (105), Columbus Academy (65), Buckeye Valley (56), Worthington Christian (51), Wellington (6); Girls — Buckeye Valley (165.33), Bexley (129.33), CSG (106), Grandview (74), Academy (68), Worthington Christian (56), Wellington (26.33), Whitehall (14)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Samson Adler, Maxwell Clous, Rob Donahey, Atticus Keels, Ryan Kemp, Matthew Levy, Nathan Ma, Thomas Miller, Jude Nathan, William Petry, Elliot Roe, William Ross, Grant Sheridan and Spencer Stevenson; Girls — Dasi Bandler, Isabel Bowling, Ryann Donahey, Selah Foster, Ally Grieshop, Natalie Griffith, Hannah Hayden, Hayley Heideman, Camila Melgar-Zubieta, Karleigh Place, Hannah Spangle, Maria Stenke and Leah Tadese
•Key returnees: Boys — Nicholas Eddy, Mason Louis, Solomon McDow and Athanasius Young; Girls — Rylee Barno, Claire MacDonald, Isabel Niermeyer, Jenna Plank, Sofia Sheridan and Sydnie Smith
•Postseason: Boys — Second (90) at district behind Heath (93), fourth (42) at regional behind champion Sandusky Perkins (77), tied for 25th (8) at state behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (43); Girls — Seventh (37) at district behind champion Pickerington Central (85), tied for 10th (21) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84), tied for 25th (8) at state behind champion Mentor (70)
CSG TRACK & FIELD
•Seniors lost: Nyah Funderburke, Jolien Kusi, Alexandria Rogers, Emma Young and Alison Zheng
•Key returnees: Fabi Corso, Kayden Edwards, Ciara Latham, Sophia Nagy, Jameson Pillifant, Carly Priest, Lauren Sloan and Emma Spangler
•Postseason: Seventh (43) at district behind champion Buckeye Valley (96), 28th (8) at regional behind champion Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (71), did not score at state
ST. CHARLES TENNIS
•Record: 9-5 overall
•CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), Watterson (3-1), DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3), Ready (0-4)
•Seniors lost: Keller Bueneman, Quinn Gelhaus, Daniel Marino, Andy Somodi and Reece Yakubov
•Key returnees: Daniel Ferguson, Brady Pema and Victor Roscoe
ST. CHARLES TRACK & FIELD
•CCL standings: Watterson (172), St. Charles (137), Hartley (94), DeSales (70), Ready (15)
•Seniors lost: Colin Hayter, Owen Karas, Liam Quinlan, Max Taylor, Emanuel Tewold, Brady Westin and Isaiah Yarngo
•Key returnees: Will Cromley, Derek Lyons, Luke Messerly, Paul Roginski and Trenton Wells
•Postseason: 11th (23) at district behind champion Canal Winchester (114), tied for 30th (5) at regional behind champion Hilliard Darby (68), tied for 58th (3) at state behind champion Pickerington North (43)