Columbus Academy Roundup: Vikings' Regan Cornelius, Luke Nester close prep careers at state

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Columbus Academy's Luke Nester (right) runs with Watterson's Will Garey and Maumee's Eric Board in the 1,600 meters during the Division II regional meet May 29 at Lexington. Nester won the 1,600 at regional in 4:23.7 and then was seventh at state in 4:23.15.

Columbus Academy senior Regan Cornelius loves a challenge. 

She entered the season for the girls track and field team as a specialist in the 800 and 1,600 meters, along with the 1,600 relay, but expanded her training to the 3,200 about midway through the season. 

“I definitely love a challenge,” she said. “I’m a little bummed I didn’t get to race it more. Just thinking eight laps can be daunting, but once I actually got out there and raced it, it was fine.” 

Cornelius quickly excelled in the distance event and qualified for the Division II state meet, which was held June 4 and 5 at Pickerington North. She finished 11th in 11 minutes, 41.01 seconds. 

“I was seeded 12th, I got 11th, so I was pleased with the result,” she said. “I was thrilled to make it to that point and be able to race at that level and be able to cap off my career at the state meet. It was a cool experience.” 

Cornelius, who was the girls team’s lone state qualifier, competed in her sixth 3,200 race of the season. She said competing in cross country in the fall helped her prepare for the event. 

She established a program record of 11:25.88 in the 3,200 while finishing third at regional May 29 at Lexington. Meredith Keeran Kessler, a 1996 graduate, had held the previous record of 11:28.22 since 1995. 

Cornelius finished third at district (11:44.86) May 22 at Westerville North. 

Also a standout in field hockey, Cornelius will play that sport at Northwestern. 

“It was fun just getting to impact and be a part of multiple programs throughout my four years,” she said. 

Senior Luke Nester was the lone state qualifier for the boys team and finished seventh in the 1,600 (4:23.15). 

“I can’t be too upset,” he said. “It was a (personal record) and I still made the podium. Those two things don’t come easy. I was a little disappointed that I got passed in the final 50 meters by two or three people, but seventh in the state, you can’t complain about that, especially in that heat.” 

He accounted for the Vikings’ two points as they tied for 65th behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (43) as 78 teams scored. 

Nester won the 1,600 at regional (4:23.7) after winning the 1,600 (4:27.93) and 3,200 (10:24.52) in the district 2 meet. He opted not to compete in the 3,200 at regional. 

“I wanted to go out a little higher on top and maybe set a record or two, but looking back on the résumé, I’m pretty happy with what I did,” he said. “Everyone gave me great opportunities and resources, the school and all the coaches. I’m looking back on it with a smile. It’s good stuff.” 

Nester has committed to compete in track and cross country at the U.S. Naval Academy. 

“At the beginning of high school that started to be on the radar as an option,” he said. “It’s about an 8, 9 percent acceptance rate, so I had a lot of backup plans, but I’m pretty lucky and fortunately I got in there because that was my top choice for a while.” 

Cornelius said she will always have fond memories of training with Nester. 

“I ran with him through cross country,” she said. “I ran with him since seventh grade, so it was kind of a full circle moment to have both of us at state representing Academy.” 

Ashlee Abraham completed her first season as the Vikings’ coach. 

“I really enjoyed myself,” she said. “I learned a lot of new things, but to get to see the kids leave it all out on the track that’s all I can ask for.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

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), Columbus School for Girls (106), Grandview (74), Academy (68), Worthington Christian (56), Wellington (26.33), Whitehall (14)  

Seniors lost: Boys — Vaughn Armour, Manny Eribo, Jake Huddleston, Sam Huyghe, Luke Nester, Skyler Simpson, Gabe Taub and Vincent White; Girls — Olivia Archibald, Hannah Clay, Regan Cornelius and Olivia Pierre-Louis  

Key returnees: Boys — Gabriel Eribo, Jonathan Hammond, Peter Heermann, E.J. Jenkins, Zech Kim and Max Popp; Girls — Julia DeVore, Rene Fleege, Samantha Frickel, Tara Hoffman, Annabelle Huyghe, Allison Klinefelter, Ella Lowrie, Mary Kate Prall and Madeline Proctor 

Postseason: Boys — Fifth (64) at district behind champion Heath (93), tied for 14th (16) at regional behind champion Sandusky Perkins (77), tied for 65th (2) at state behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (43); Girls — 10th (32) at district behind champion Buckeye Valley (96), tied for 31st (6) at regional behind champion Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (71), did not score at state