Reynoldsburg Roundup: Sprinters emerging for Raiders boys track team
Because of its depth in the sprint corps, opportunities for younger runners such as Markez Gillam were rare the last time the Reynoldsburg boys track and field team competed in the outdoor season in 2019.
Gillam was not entered in any events at district that season as a group led by 2019 graduates Keyshawn Brown and Dionte Roddy and 2020 graduates Muhammad Fall and Doniven Jackson won the team championship.
This spring — with a breakout football season last fall as a wide receiver added to his résumé — the junior has emerged as one of the team’s top sprinters.
“I’m trying to qualify for states,” Gillam said. “Our relays have been coming together well. We’ve been alternating guys in to see who we can have finalize our team. We’ve been switching it up every week (in some of our relays).”
Gillam, who ran 11.6 seconds in the 100 meters as a freshman, finished first in 10.82 on April 3 in the Watkins Memorial Icebreaker Invitational.
Then on April 30 in the Milt Will Invitational at Canal Winchester, Gillam was fifth in 10.94 for his second-best time of the season.
At that same meet, he ran his best time to date in the 200 (22.62) while finishing third as the Raiders placed fifth (68) of eight teams behind champion and host Canal Winchester (137).
Gillam also has competed regularly on the 400 relay.
On April 23 in the Wildcat Invitational at Westerville South, Gillam was joined by senior Daniel Broomfield and juniors Deon Campbell and Ibrahim Fall on the winning 400 relay (43.45).
At the Milt Will, Gillam also ran on the third-place 1,600 relay (3:27.94) with seniors Kyle Cannon and Seth Davis and sophomore Tehron Spencer.
Gillam showed his speed last fall in football as he finished with 33 receptions for 642 yards and eight touchdowns and returned two kickoffs and one punt for scores.
“It was kind of hard (not having a season last spring) because COVID took everything away,” he said. “Having a big backyard kind of helped me a lot, and having a lifting spot in my basement helped me get stronger. I got to play with my teammates (in football) in the fall, so that was positive.”
Reynoldsburg is preparing for the Division I, district 1 meet May 18, 20 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North.
The Raiders also compete in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet May 13 and 15 at Lancaster.
Senior Andre Turner has provided depth in the 400 and 800 relays after recovering from an offseason foot injury, and seniors Marsellis Davis and Seth Davis continue to lead the way in distance and middle-distance events.
At the Milt Will, Seth Davis won the 800 in 1:57.79 and Marsellis Davis was runner-up in 2:00.35.
Junior J’Tahn Ellison jumped 6 feet to finish second in the high jump at the Milt Will and cleared the same height in a dual May 3 against Westland.
“Of course, Seth and (Marsellis) have been really good,” coach Richard Ladowitz said. “Sprinter-wise, Ibrahim and Markez have (run well). J’Tahn Ellison is a brand-new kid out for track and he didn’t even come out for high jump. We just looked at his height and said, ‘Why don’t you come out for the high jump?’ ”
Girls track team
preps for postseason
The girls track team also will compete in the district 1 meet.
The Raiders best hopes of advancing to the regional appear to be their sprint relays as well as senior distance runner Avril Moyer.
At the eight-team Milt Will Invitational, Reynoldsburg finished sixth (38) behind champion Pickerington Central (131) as Moyer finished third in the 3,200 (12:07.72).
The 400 relay of senior Kasha Rhodes, juniors Aquilla Jacobs and Jamiona Ross and sophomore Hollyn Tillman was runner-up (51.91), while Rhodes was fifth in the 100 (13.06) and senior Kara Cannon was sixth in the 200 (27.86).
In the Wildcat Invitational, senior Adja Mbow was third in the 400 (1:03.31), junior Nya Collier was runner-up in the 100 hurdles (15.14), Moyer was third in the 3,200 (12:11.43) and the 400 relay (50.05) of Rhodes, Ross, Tillman and senior Mya Graham and the 1,600 relay (4:11.45) of Cannon, Mbow, Ross and Tillman both were third.
“Adja is not bad,” Ladowitz said. “She keeps getting better. Jamiona and Hollyn will be our two big-dog sprinters.”
With a 12-2 victory over Columbus Academy on May 1, the baseball team improved to 4-14 overall and snapped a nine-game losing streak.
Having junior Preston Allen on the mound might be the biggest difference.
While Allen has been a regular in the lineup at third base, he recently was cleared to pitch after recovering from an arm injury.
Against Academy, Allen struck out 11 of the 12 batters he faced.
He joins a pitching staff that also includes senior Aiden Elston, junior Justin Litton and sophomore Gabe DeJesus as the Raiders prepare for the 47-team Division I district tournament, which begins May 17.
“We’ve finally got our top pitchers back together,” coach Bob Benjamin said. “Having Preston Allen back, it makes a world of difference. (May 1 was) the first time he’s pitched all year. He kept telling me he was (able) to pitch and I kept holding him off. He’s only a junior and throws in the low 90s. He only threw 60 pitches and struck out 11.”
The Raiders were 1-7 in the OCC-Buckeye after losing 14-1 to Pickerington Central on April 30 and before playing Groveport on May 5.
Senior Justin Barko (1B/OF), Litton (INF/P) and Elston (OF/P) have led the way at the plate, according to Benjamin.
“The confidence they had was so much different knowing Preston was pitching,” Benjamin said. “At the beginning of the year, we thought pitching was going to be our strength and that’s been a struggle. We’re not throwing strikes and we just need to be more consistent throwing strikes.”