Track & Field: Hilliard Darby Panthers boys team wins first regional title since 2006

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Darby's Alex Smith lands his long-jump attempt and creates a mini sandstorm during the Hilliard Premier in April. Smith won the long jump and high jump in the Division I regional meet, helping the Panthers capture their first team championship since 2006.

It took 15 years, but the Hilliard Darby boys track and field team won a second Division I regional championship.

The Panthers scored 68 points to finish ahead of runner-up and host Pickerington North (57) as 36 teams scored in the regional May 26 and 28, winning their first title since 2006.

That season, Darby also scored 68 points in winning its first regional championship, finishing ahead of runner-up Brookhaven (44).

Eighth-year coach Matthew Fox said it all started with success in the field events. Cameron McNeil won the shot put (53 feet, 6 inches) and discus (151-0), and Alex Smith won the high jump (6-3) and long jump (23-6 1/2).

“We won four of the five field events even though the conditions were pretty rough, but they came out and did an incredible job,” Fox said. “I don't think anybody (had a personal record), but in terms of effort and focus, kudos to them, especially since they’re pretty raw. They didn’t get last year (because the season was canceled), so for a lot of them this is their first big experience. To come out and have that sort of meet is pretty impressive.”

Sean Carney won the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 18.33 seconds) and 3,200 (9:28.99) and ran on the fourth-place 3,200 relay (7:59.61) with Justin Fleishman, Collins Applegate and George Hughes.

The top four in each event advanced to state, which was June 4 and 5 at Darby. Two at-large state berths also were awarded for each event based on times and distances statewide.

“I don’t think that was something we ever expected coming into this season,” Carney said of winning a regional title. “Until we saw where the points were falling (May 26), we didn’t even really have that on our mind. But we came into (May 28) with that as our main goal, so it was pretty cool to do.”

Ashley Cornathan was fourth in the discus (120-4) as the Darby girls tied for 18th (15) behind champion Gahanna (84) as 38 teams scored.

The Panthers also advanced to state with at-large berths in two events after placing fifth at regional. Gabrielle Hammonds qualified in the 300 hurdles (45.18), finishing .02 behind fourth-place Sydney Burrs of Olentangy.

Hammonds joined Mia Wyngarden, Ady Armstrong and Kaitlyn Rogowski on the 1,600 relay (4:06.77) as Dublin Jerome was fourth (4:03.88).

•The Davidson boys and girls teams turned in strong showings at regional.

Lindsay Stull helped lead the girls team by winning the 800 (2:13.49) and finishing third in the 1,600 (5:08.12). She also joined Caitlyn Jones, Dillion Sweetman and Keagan Gehring on the first-place 3,200 relay (9:12.91). 

In the 3,200, Sweetman was second (11:06.57) and Alyssa Mason was third (11:08.4). 

The Wildcats finished third (46) behind Gahanna and runner-up Watterson (68). 

Connor Ackley led the boys team as he teamed with R.J. Sagrilla, Brady Whiteside and Nate Gilbert on the first-place 3,200 relay (7:51.05). Ackley also finished second in the 1,600 (4:18.97) and 3,200 (9:29.07), while Sagrilla placed third in the 800 (2:00.11). 

Jack De Francesco finished sixth in the pole vault (14-0) and earned an at-large berth to state.

The Wildcats finished fifth (36). 

—Frank DiRenna 

•The Bradley boys team qualified two athletes for state.

David Lamb finished fourth in the 400 (49.69) and Chance Roberts was fourth in the discus (140-7) as the Jaguars tied for 21st (10) at regional.

The girls team did not have any state qualifiers and tied for 33rd (2).

—Scott Hennen

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