Track & Field: Lindsay Stull, Jack De Francesco shine for Hilliard Davidson Wildcats at state

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Davidson senior Lindsay Stull competes in the 800 meters during the Division I state meet June 5 at Darby. She won the race in 2 minutes, 10.35 seconds.

After not competing at full strength during cross country in the fall, Hilliard Davidson senior distance runner Lindsay Stull was looking forward to her final track and field season with the Wildcats. 

Stull responded by leading the girls team in the Division I state meet June 4 and 5 at Darby, capping her prep career by winning the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 10.35 seconds. 

It was her first state title in three seasons of competing in the meet. 

Stull missed most of the cross country regular season with a foot injury, which hampered her performance at state as she placed 83rd (19:42.6). 

She left Fortress Obetz in early November disappointed with her finish and taking partial responsibility for the Wildcats just missing out on the Division I state title as they came in second (138) behind Centerville (128). 

The race motivated Stull to close her prep career in track on a high note. 

“It was hard for a long time, not being where I wanted to be,” Stull said. “With our (cross country) team getting second, so close to winning the state meet, this feels really good. I’ve been all-state six times — close but no cigar — but I finished the job.” 

Coach Matt Beatty was impressed with the resiliency displayed by Stull, who will run at Penn State. 

“She didn’t have a great cross country ending and she held herself responsible for the team,” Beatty said. “The team didn’t do as well as she thought it should have done, and to end it like that (at state) was awesome. Her accomplishments are really great.” 

Stull opened state June 4 by joining sophomores Caitlyn Jones, Dillion Sweetman and Keagan Gehring on the third-place 3,200 relay (9:12.49). 

Stull, who also qualified for state in the 1,600 but opted to focus on the 800, holds the program record in the 800 (2:10.35) and 1,600 (4:58.82) and is part of the record-holding 3,200 relay (9:12.49). 

Sweetman finished 10th (11:20.07) and junior Alyssa Mason was 13th (11:23.47) in the 3,200. 

The Wildcats tied for eighth (16) behind champion Mentor (70) as 75 teams scored. 

“We had a lot of girls get a lot of experience,” Beatty said. “We’re just hoping to keep the train rolling next year.” 

Davidson's Jack De Francesco celebrates after clearing 16 feet, 6 inches to finish second in the pole vault in the Division I state meet June 4 at Darby.

The boys team was led at state by junior Jack De Francesco and sophomore Connor Ackley. 

De Francesco earned an at-large berth for state in the pole vault after finishing sixth (14 feet) at regional May 26 at Pickerington North. He took advantage of his opportunity by finishing second (16-6) at state and breaking his own program record of 15-6. 

“We finally put together everything we’ve been working on and it just all came together in the end,” De Francesco said. “We peaked at the right time, so I’m glad I got it done. … My goal was all-state and get on the podium. I knew that I could be up there if I put everything together that I’ve been working on.” 

Coach Ryan Aleshire was pleased that De Francesco could obtain that major goal. 

“I’m super proud of Jack,” Aleshire said. “He works extremely hard. He’s been working even during the COVID year, and the last two, three years he’s gone up to Buckeye (Pole Vault Academy). In the offseason he jumps indoors, so he deserves this. … He’s also the fastest kid on our team.” 

Ackley finished third in the 1,600 (4:13.45). He also qualified in the 3,200 but sat out the race to concentrate on the 1,600. 

Ackley, seniors Nate Gilbert and R.J. Sagrilla and junior Brady Whiteside finished 13th in the 3,200 relay (8:07.82), while Sagrilla was 15th in the 800 (1:58.64). 

The Wildcats finished 12th (14) behind champion Pickerington North (43) as 84 teams scored.

Darby's Alex Smith competes in the long jump during the Division I state meet June 4. Smith was runner-up in the event (23-7 1/4) and seventh in the high jump (6-4).

•Coach Matthew Fox knew his “big three” would come through for the Darby boys team at state.

Senior distance runner Sean Carney, senior thrower Cameron McNeil and junior jumper Alex Smith all reached the podium for the Panthers, who finished seventh (19) as a team.

“We went through the year with the big three — Sean, Cam and Alex — leading us, and they did it again,” Fox said.

Carney qualified in the 1,600 but did not run that race to concentrate on the 3,200. The Ohio State recruit finished fifth in 9:15.85.

McNeil placed fourth in the shot put (58-4 3/4) and 15th in the discus (124-11).

“Cam was throwing 86 (feet in the discus) and 32 (in the shot put) as a freshman and he pushed himself and did so much on his own to get better,” Fox said. “He never really started progressing until last year when he worked by himself after we lost the season (to the pandemic). He threw a 3-foot PR at state (in the shot put), and he believed in what he could do.”

Smith was runner-up in the long jump (23-7 1/4) and seventh in the high jump (6-4).

“I was a little nervous because the competition was going to be way more than it had been in the rest of the season,” said Smith, who holds the program record of 23-8 in the long jump. “It felt like there was a little less pressure (jumping at home in the state meet) because I’m used to this place. It kind of felt like practice for me.”

Darby was 18th in the 3,200 relay (8:32.06) with juniors Jon Alecusan and Justin Fleishman and sophomores Collins Applegate and George Hughes.

A week earlier, the Panthers won their first regional title since 2006.

Senior Gabrielle Hammonds led the girls team at state by placing sixth in the 300 hurdles (44.82). She also joined junior Mia Wyngarden, freshman Ady Armstrong and senior Krystal Singh on the fifth-place 1,600 relay (3:56.71).

“It’s my senior year, so I just was giving it everything that I had left,” Hammonds said. “The race went exactly as planned. It started out really hard and I just pushed on the back stretch as hard as I could.”

Freshman Ashley Cornathan was 14th in the discus (111-3), and freshman Kaitlyn Rogowski ran on the 1,600 relay at regional.

“It’s been awesome running and training with all these girls all year,” Hammonds said. “There were a lot of young girls in this race. I'm excited to see what they have coming for their future because they’re definitely going to be good.”

—Scott Hennen

•Two seniors represented the Bradley boys team at state, and coach Ben Gadfield said that was an accomplishment in itself after the 2020 season.

David Lamb was 12th in the 400 (50.05) and Chance Roberts finished 15th in the discus (117-10).

“We had two seniors at state that had never been there before, which was huge for them especially with the COVID season we had last year,” Gadfield said. “I was glad to see them go individually in their best events. That’s a good way to end a high school career.”

Lamb was fourth at regional in the 400 (46.69) and 10th in the 200 (22.77), while Roberts was fourth in the discus (140-7) and ninth in the shot put (47-5 1/4).

Key performers expected back for the Jaguars include junior Evan Corea (distance), sophomore Jackson Lemle (throws) and freshmen Chris Kill (sprints) and Nikolas Kisin (sprints).

“It went well but we didn’t have a lot of experience after losing last year,” Gadfield said. “We performed well for as young as we were and that should help in seasons to come.”

The girls team did not have any state qualifiers. At regional, junior Ashley Long placed seventh in the 400 (1:01.6) and junior Gracelyn Peebles was ninth in the 300 hurdles (46.47).

Long broke the program record in the 400 with a time of 59.02 at district.

“I was very pleased with the season, considering how young we were,” coach Thom Nees said. “We were young but kids competed, and we did some really nice things.”

Other top competitors expected to return include juniors Emma Brooks (throws) and Elyanna Rondon (throws), sophomores Hailey Amador (hurdles), Autumn Bernava (throws), Leigha Dennison (pole vault) and Sami Hosni (distance) and freshman Luisi Yetter (sprints).

—Scott Hennen

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BRADLEY

OCC-Central standings: Boys — Olentangy Orange (137), Davidson (104), Dublin Coffman (92), Olentangy Liberty (76), Bradley (65), Upper Arlington (49); Girls — Orange (140), Davidson (117), UA (93), Liberty (75), Coffman (60), Bradley (38)

Seniors lost: Boys — Yasir Awale, Nate Bontz, Caden Burkhart, Joshua George, Kevin Gonzalez, David Lamb, Gabe Paynter, Kenyon Richardson, Chance Roberts and Jackson White; Girls — Brittany Amador, Alice McAnespie, Ella Richardson and Maya Rohrwe

Key returnees: Boys — Evan Corea, Chris Kill, Nikolas Kisin and Jackson Lemle; Girls — Hailey Amador, Autumn Bernava, Emma Brooks, Leigha Dennison, Sami Hosni, Ashley Long, Gracelyn Peebles, Elyanna Rondon and Luisi Yetter

Postseason: Boys — Eighth (28) at district behind champion Pickerington North (121), tied for 21st (10) at regional behind champion Darby (68), did not score at state; Girls — 15th (13.5) at district behind champion Pickerington Central (85), tied for 33rd (2) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84)

DARBY

OCC-Cardinal standings: Boys — Thomas Worthington (128), Darby (111), Olentangy Berlin (87), Dublin Jerome (80), Marysville (63), Olentangy (54); Girls — Olentangy (123), Darby and Jerome (117), Marysville (76), Thomas (63), Berlin (27)

Seniors lost: Boys — Braden Bower, Eli Boyd, Samuel Bouni, Sean Carney, Joel Cashner, Malicki Diallo, Jackson Gunn, Orion Hall, Nathaniel Jamison, Andrew Konkus, Avery Lyle, Cameron McNeil, Caleb Nelles, Nathan Norris, Anuj Roy and Eric Williams Jr.; Girls — Natasha Amoako, Sydney Bodak, Madison Brokaw, Taylor Clark, Kortni Clisby, Gabrielle Hammonds,  Jenna Hartwell, Liz Silva, Hailyn Simpson, Krystal Singh

Key returnees: Boys — Jon Alecusan, Collins Applegate, Justin Fleishman, George Hughes and Alex Smith; Girls — Ady Armstrong, Ashley Cornathan, Kaitlyn Rogowski and Mia Wyngarden

Postseason: Boys — Second (86) at district behind Pickerington North (104), first (68) at regional, seventh (19) at state behind champion Pickerington North (43); Girls — Sixth (45) at district behind champion Watterson (139.5), tied for 18th (16) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84), tied for 31st (7) at state behind champion Mentor (70)

DAVIDSON 

Seniors lost: Boys — Jay Chung, Richard Conatser, Nate Gilbert, Kaden Griffin, Nick Johnson, Paul Hodge, Yasin Kashubeck, Andrew LaMendola, R.J. Sagrilla, Tyler Schmidt and D.J. Thornton; Girls — Emma Conrad, Brianna Jones, Isabella Manken, Meghan McCabe, Justine Smith, Vivian Smith and Lindsay Stull 

Key returnees: Boys — Connor Ackley, Jack De Francesco, Alex Hudson, Nick Puhl, Jaden Phillips and Brady Whiteside; Girls — Keagan Gehring, Caitlyn Jones, Khadija Seck, Talaya Stanford and Dillion Sweetman 

Postseason: Boys — Third (77) at district behind champion Pickerington North (121), fifth (36) at regional behind champion Darby (68), 12th (14) at state behind champion North (43); Girls — Third (107) at district behind champion Gahanna (153.83), third (46) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84), tied for eighth (16) at state behind champion Mentor (70)