Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Lions boys volleyball team growing through early adversity
This season’s first test of intestinal fortitude already has come and gone for the Gahanna Lincoln boys volleyball team.
With only two players returning from the 2019 season when they went 22-4 and were led by a 10-member senior class, the Lions were expecting to have a large junior class gain its footing last spring before the season was canceled.
Instead, that group – now Gahanna’s senior class – was forced to play the first six matches without one of its starting middle hitters when junior A’me Baccus was forced to quarantine because of COVID-19 protocols.
The Lions filled that hole by moving senior McCord Riegler from right-side hitter to Baccus’ position and by shifting senior Connor Tilton from outside hitter to Riegler’s regular spot.
“We’re getting there,” coach Mike Sage said. “They’re going to be contenders. Last year, this group was supposed to cut their teeth and go from there and they’ve done that fast this season already. Our goal is to make every team earn points against us and we’ve got to fix our free-ball stuff. Sometimes when the easiest ball is coming over, we can’t get it into our system.”
Gahanna finally got a look at what it could become with its full lineup April 8 when it faced Pickerington Central in an OCC-Ohio Division matchup, and the results were exactly what the squad was hoping for.
With Baccus at middle hitter, Riegler at right-side hitter and Tilton at outside hitter, the Lions lost the first set but rallied to win the match 22-25, 25-11, 25-16, 21-25, 15-11.
The Tigers had entered that match at 6-0.
Gahanna lost its first two matches while shorthanded but won its next six, including a 25-9, 25-12, 25-18 victory over Westerville Central on April 12 to improve to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the league.
“We’ve had that problem this year where we’ve started out slow and have had to work on getting it moving faster, but we really kicked it into gear (against Pickerington Central) after they took that first set from us,” Riegler said. “It’s a start. They pushed us a lot and showed us what we need to work on, and thankfully it’s a lot of controllable stuff. We know where we’re going from here.”
Riegler’s father, Jeff Riegler, is the Lions’ swimming and diving coach.
Throughout McCord Riegler’s prep career, he has split time on swimming and volleyball. This winter, he made it to the Division I state swimming meet in the 100-yard breaststroke and placed 17th in 58.08 seconds.
As a left-handed hitter in volleyball, Riegler has played on the right side throughout most of his time at the prep and club levels.
Riegler and senior setter Logan Burrell are the only key players from 2019 who are on this year’s team. Tilton was on the junior varsity as a sophomore but likely would have been one of the team’s top hitters last spring.
“Once we get going, it’s hard to stop us,” Tilton said. “Last year I was (going to be) on varsity but we didn’t have (a season), so these have been my first couple games as a varsity player and it’s been a lot of fun. I try to be a big hype man for us and make sure that everyone is hyped up.”
Boys lacrosse team
Although the boys lacrosse team was outscored 60-6 during a 0-3 start, some positives came out of the early struggles, according to first-year coach Collin Blaney.
“We had a lot of families take vacations over spring break, so in two of those games we were kind of playing only with the guys that were in town,” said Blaney, whose team lost 23-1 to Thomas Worthington on April 10. “We have everybody back, we had a great week of practice and the energy and attitude are generally positive.
“The seniors have really bought into that. We’ve tried to schedule some talented teams to really challenge ourselves and get us ready to play our regular-season conference competition.”
Junior midfielder Caleb Mason was the Lions’ leading scorer through three games. In addition, senior midfielder Colton Ramsey, junior long-stick midfielder Joshua Knuckles, sophomore attacker Gavin Pape and sophomore defender Brecken Parsons have filled key roles.
“We’re really trying to focus on our playmakers and guys who want the ball,” Blaney said. “That’s kind of the winner’s mentality in trying to be as positive as possible and putting those things to work and knowing you can succeed in those things. We have a lot of really talented players who lack game experience.”
Track teams sweep
titles in Cincinnati
The boys and girls track and field teams each captured championships April 10 in the eight-team Cincinnati Princeton Invitational, with the boys scoring 163 points and the girls finishing with 144.
Placing first for the girls were Camden Bentley in the 100-meter hurdles (13.94 seconds) and 300 hurdles (44.75), Savannah Flusche in the discus (96 feet, 10 inches) and shot put (36-1/2), Faith Hunter in the high jump (5-7), the 800 relay (1:42.71) and the 1,600 relay (4:00.89).
Placing second were Joi Bradley in the 400 (58.45), Amryne Chilton in the 100 (12.79), Keena Sanders in the 200 (26.47), Alyssa Shope in the 3,200 (11:31.62) and the 400 relay (50.89).
Winners for the boys were Dwayne Carter in the 300 hurdles (43.28), Mondra Curry in the long jump (21-4 1/2), Alex Eggleston in the 800 (2:03.16) and the 3,200 relay (8:33.12).
The boys got runner-up finishes from Carter in the 110 hurdles (16.31), Tristin Cook-Fisher in the 100 (11.21), Chris Finklea in the 300 hurdles (43.33), Griffin Flusche in the shot put (44-4) and discus (122-3), Charlie Slates in the 3,200 (10:19.71) and the 1,600 relay (3:35.96).