Notebook: Groveport Madison Cruisers boys track and field team making most of season

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Harris Musungu has been the top jumper this season for the Groveport Madison boys track and field team.

Groveport Madison boys track and field coach Ryan Alton let his team know before the season what he expected, given that he has 27 athletes in the program.

“I told them I’d be looking for a lot out of them,” Alton said. “They’ve responded in a big way.”

That has been especially evident in recent weeks, including at the Elmo Kallner Invitational on April 24 at Hamilton Township in which the Cruisers finished second (100.25 points) in the eight-team field behind Gahanna (192.25).

Freshman Elijah Simmons joined the 400- and 800-meter relays because of injuries to another runner and helped both to runner-up finishes in 45.01 seconds and 1:35.71, respectively. 

Eli Jackson was second in the 400 (53.56) and helped the 1,600 relay (3:41.99) to second place with Kahari Davis, Nevin Montgomery and Mike Musungu.

“They’ve taken a serious approach to practice and making sure they’re in the best shape they can be,” Alton said. “I have a lot of guys running four events just because we’re so thin and guys filling in wherever they can. They know the deal. This is all we’ve got and all we’ve got is all we need. They’ve taken that and run with it.”

Alton also has seen diversity in the team’s scoring, ranging from jumps to middle distance and throws. Harris Musungu has been the team’s top jumper, while Jashawn McGraw has led the throwers.

“In years past we counted on the relays and sprint events to pull home most of the points, and this year we’re getting points here and there across the board. Those add up,” Alton said. “We’re still a few weeks away from when it really matters and I need to make sure I’m not running them in the ground so they have a lot left come in mid-May.”

Groveport will participate in the Westerville Central Warhawk Invitational on May 7 at Otterbein before the OCC-Buckeye Division meet May 13 and 15 at Lancaster.

Samantha Zungri and Canal Winchester were 14-5 before playing Groveport and Olentangy Berlin on May 1.

Canal Winchester softball player Brooklyn Best hasn’t had the easiest senior season, but the one game she was cleared to play ended up a resounding success.

Best, who has chronic bursitis in her left shoulder that required surgery and was cleared specifically for the Indians’ senior day April 26 against Franklin Heights, went 3-for-4 with three RBI in an 18-3, five-inning win.

Best, who underwent surgery March 22, played first base and called the game “bittersweet.” She has attended games and practices all season, calling herself “a team mom.”

“I never thought I’d get to play. I didn’t expect to, and then I was talking to coach (Casey) Whitlatch and he asked me if I wanted to play and I just said, ‘Of course I do.’ I cleared it with my surgeon and as long as I didn’t throw, I was clear to go,” Best said. “I just had to run the ball back to the pitcher and luckily I didn’t have any plays where I had to throw to home or third (base).”

Led by an offense averaging 9.9 runs per game, the Indians were 14-5 overall before playing Groveport and Olentangy Berlin on May 1 and 8-2 in the OCC-Capital entering a May 3 game against Westerville South. 

Delaware was 10-0 in the OCC-Capital through April 28, and the Indians and Pacers were scheduled to play May 5.

Delaware defeated Canal Winchester 12-3 on April 19, after which the Indians went on a seven-game winning streak.

Samantha Peters was batting .650 with six home runs and 48 RBI through 16 games, ahead of Samantha Zungri (.483) and Dani Skinner (.448).

•Although Groveport boys tennis coach Scott Wilson said he has noticed improvement from his players, he also said a winless season entering the week has been trying at times.

“They’re getting better. All their shots are getting better, but our division is one where we don’t get a break and we’re generally outmatched,” Wilson said. “We see teams like Lancaster that aren’t overpowering but they hit everything back. Pickerington Central has a lot of power and can get the ball everywhere, and we need to be more consistent against different styles. It’s getting better, but it’s tough.”

Groveport was 0-10 overall before playing Westerville Central on May 5 and finished 0-5 in the league with a 3-2 home loss to Central Crossing on April 27.

The first-doubles team of Casey Humphrey and Jason Robertson led the Cruisers with three wins before April 29, with those victories coming against the Comets, Hamilton Township and Madison Christian.

•The Canal Winchester lacrosse team got the program’s first win April 28, defeating Olentangy Orange’s junior varsity B team, and is 1-7 entering a May 7 game at Granville.

The Indians will wrap up their first season over the next week, including their final home game May 11 against New Concord John Glenn. Canal Winchester also will play three games in a quad May 15 at Olentangy against teams to be determined.

The game against John Glenn originally was to have been the Indians’ only contest at the high school stadium, as it previously played home games at Canal Winchester Middle School. However, site changes meant the team played five of its final six home games at the high school.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave