Big Walnut Roundup: Golden Eagles' Alec Carr, Mark Ruffing earn top-10 state track finishes
Mark Ruffing of the Big Walnut boys track and field team ended his prep career as one of the 10 best Division I discus competitors in the state.
However, the senior had hoped for more after a good week of practice leading up to the state meet June 4 and 5 at Hilliard Darby.
“In the build up to this meet, I had been hitting 150 (feet) consistently, sometimes over that, so it was kind of disappointing to throw below that,” Ruffing said. “I’m not throwing in college, so this is the end of the road for my throwing career. I wish I’d gone out on a better note.”
At state, he finished 10th (148-7) behind champion Thomas Rimac of Brunswick (175-11).
Ruffing’s other two throws went 137-7 and 133-2.
“He’s here competing with some of the best athletes in the state of Ohio, and he hung right in there,” throws coach Joe Weaver said. “He finished with a top-10 finish, and for a kid to say they’re among the 10 best in their event in the state of Ohio is impressive.”
Ruffing also won OCC-Capital Division titles in the discus (140-11) and shot put (49-11 ½) on May 13 and 15 at Westerville North and followed that with a championship in the discus (149-9) and a second-place finish in the shot put (49-3) in the district 2 meet, which concluded May 22 at Darby.
At regional, which was held May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North, he finished second in the discus (145-5).
Junior Alec Carr also scored a top-10 finish at state for Big Walnut in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing seventh (14.84 seconds) behind champion Silas Kayuha (14.36) of Dublin Jerome.
Carr’s breakout season included winning the 110 hurdles (14.56) while setting an OCC-Capital record and finishing second in the league meet in the 300 hurdles (39.58). The previous record in the 110 hurdles was 14.6.
The 1,600 relay of seniors Jayden McConnell, Owen Wilhelm and John Embaugh and junior Ryan Tripp won a league title in 3:27.44, and Wilhelm also won a district title in the high jump (6-3).
Others expected to return include juniors Shane White (sprinter), Christopher Lee (distance), Aiden Hernandez (field events), Cole Vennemeyer (field events) and Grant Ferris (field events) and sophomore Jordan Monebrake (distance).
Freshman Alexus Roberts was the only Big Walnut girls competitor to advance to state, earning an at-large berth in the 100 hurdles after finishing sixth (15.29) at regional.
She finished 11th (15.27) at state.
Roberts was among the two relays and three girls individuals who qualified for regional. Another freshman, Autumn Newman, finished 11th in the shot put (31-1) after placing fourth (33-8 ½) at district.
“Autumn didn’t get the results she wanted, but it was great for her to get there and see the competition this year so next year she will add to her success,” girls coach Joe Evener said on the school’s athletics website. “She was the only freshman shot-putter to qualify to the regional. That speaks volumes to her work ethic.”
Senior Grace Weber won the OCC-Capital discus championship (110-1) in helping the girls team capture its fourth consecutive league title. She then was fifth (107-7) at district.
Junior Cindy Serna also advanced to the regional meet by finishing fourth at district in the 300 hurdles (46.5).
Placing fourth at district to qualify for regional were the 800 relay (1:48.36) of seniors Annaleza Leichtnam and Lindsey Luchsinger and juniors Estella Truax and Abbey Dane and the 1,600 relay (4:10.17) of Danne, Luchsinger, Serna and freshman Raegan Mullins.
The 800 relay also won an OCC-Capital title (1:48.55), as did the 1,600 relay (4:08.99).
The baseball team suffered defeats in its final five contests, including a 4-1 loss to 36th-seeded Groveport in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 17.
Big Walnut, seeded 28th, finished 9-10 overall and fifth (6-6) in the OCC-Capital behind champion Westerville South (12-2).
Senior pitcher and first baseman Drew Beckner, a University of Charleston recruit, was second-team all-league. Sophomore outfielder Cam Gladden was special mention all-league and sophomore infielder Drew Gaskins was honorable mention all-league.
•Record: 9-10 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Westerville South (12-2), Canal Winchester (11-3), Worthington Kilbourne (9-5), Dublin Scioto (8-6), Big Walnut (6-6), Westerville North (5-7), Big Walnut (6-6), Delaware (3-11), Franklin Heights (0-14)
•Seniors lost: Drew Beckner, Ethan Benjamin, Matt Branzel, Cameron Drake, Brady Hershberger, Austin Iatonna, Kellan Miller, Shane Sarcheck, Mahlon Spangler, Frank Tackett and Zach Willoughby
•Key returnees: Drew Gaskins and Cameron Gladden
•Postseason: Lost to Groveport 4-1 in first round of Division I district tournament
TRACK & FIELD
•OCC-Capital standings: Boys — Canal Winchester (174), Big Walnut (142.5), South (99), Scioto (70), Kilbourne (62.5), Westerville North (60), Delaware (49), Franklin Heights (4); Girls — Big Walnut (144.4), South (142), Delaware (87.4), North (78.5), Canal Winchester (73.5), Kilbourne (71.2), Scioto (61), Franklin Heights (3)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Braden Buckler, John Embaugh, Justin Embaugh, John Ledyard, Jakob Lundberg, Jayden McConnell, Jatan Pokar, Jacob Ross, Mark Ruffing, Grayson Thomas, Owen Wilhelm and Caden Williams; Girls — Mackenna Ames, Annaleza Leichtnam, Lindsey Luchsinger, Mia Smith, Grace Unger and Grace Weber
•Key returnees: Boys — Alec Carr, Grant Ferris, Aiden Hernandez, Christopher Lee, Jordan Monebrake, Ryan Tripp, Cole Vennemeyer and Shane White; Girls — Abbey Danne, Raegan Mullins, Autumn Newman, Alexus Roberts, Cindy Serna and Estella Truax
•Postseason: Boys — Fourth (69) at district behind champion Pickerington North (121), 11th (22) at regional behind champion Hilliard Darby (68), tied for 67th (2) at state behind champion North (43); Girls — Seventh (41) at district behind champion Watterson (139.5), tied for 30th (3) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84)