Westland Roundup: Cougars track and field teams prep for season's toughest tests

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Sofia Rodriguez and Westland are preparing for the OCC-Ohio Division meet May 12 and 15 at Thomas Worthington, followed by the Division I district meet.

Westland track and field coach Tim Eckard understands the challenges that lie ahead for his boys and girls teams. 

The Cougars will first compete in the OCC-Ohio Division meet, followed by the Division I district meet. 

Eckard said the league meet, set for May 12 and 15 at Thomas Worthington, likely will be more challenging than the district meet, which is scheduled for May 18, 19 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. 

In the league meet, Westland will compete against Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Pickerington North and Westerville Central. 

“The league meet is tough competition,” Eckard said. “The kids know they have to step it up for the OCC. Our OCC is probably tougher than our district meet. Our OCC is brutal.” 

For the boys, North is seeded first in the district, followed by Gahanna (fourth), Central (ninth), New Albany (14th), Grove City (36th) and Westland (48th). 

Eckard believes several Westland athletes have the potential for a strong postseason. 

He expects strong performances from Derrick Bogay in the high jump, Blake Bilger in the long jump and sprints and the 400- and 800-meter relays. 

Bilger, Zane Gibbs-Aguon, Patricio Rebollar and Semaje Westmoreland have been competing in the 400 relay. Bilger, Rebollar, Westmoreland and David Chambers have been running in the 800 relay. 

“Some kids have a chance to score a decent amount of points, our boys team especially,” Eckard said. “Some of our relays and long jumpers, I’m anxious to see how we’re ranked against some of the tougher teams in the OCC.” 

The girls team also will face a formidable task in the league meet. 

The Cougars are seeded 52nd, behind Gahanna (first), North (sixth), Central (10th), New Albany (18th) and Grove City (33rd). 

Eckard expects a strong league meet from Kiera Bonds in the sprints and long jump and Leea Walker in the discus and shot put. 

Westland prepared for the league meet by competing in the Anthony Wilson Invitational on May 1 at Franklin Heights. 

The boys team finished seventh (39) behind champion Pickerington Central (115). Bilger, Gibbs-Aguon, Rebollar and Westmoreland were second in the 400 relay (45.37 seconds), Bogay tied for third in the high jump (5 feet, 8 inches), Bilger was fourth in the long jump (20-1 1/2) and Austin Hunter was fourth in the 110 hurdles (18.2). 

The girls team finished fifth (42) behind champion Grove City (182). Bonds was second in the 100 (13.5), third in the long jump (14-9 1/2) and fourth in the 200 (28.53), and Taylor Gullion was second in the 3,200 (15:11.69). 

Baseball team

preps for tourney 

Baseball coach Brent Shannon hopes his team can build some momentum heading into the Division I district tournament, which begins May 17. 

The Cougars were 7-13 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on May 5. 

“Our tournament goal is to win and keep going,” Shannon said. “Going with our top two pitchers (Brenden Gordon and Franklin Ramirez Lara), we are given the chance of beating anyone. We just have to play clean baseball, which has been our Achilles heel. Our pitching staff has been as good as it gets. Unearned runs haunt us currently.” 

Through 19 games, Drew Curtiss, Sam Schneider and Ramirez Lara all were hitting .333. Curtiss and Gordon each had a team-high 11 RBI, and Ramirez-Lara had 10. 

Gordon was 3-4 and had a 3.03 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 32 walks in 34 innings. Ramirez Lara was 1-2 and had a 1.47 ERA with 42 strikeouts and eight walks in 33 innings. 

Haley Starkey and the Cougars softball team were 2-12 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Westerville Central on May 5.

Softball team to 

begin postseason 

The softball team is seeded 43rd of 46 teams in the Division I district tournament. After a first-round bye, the Cougars likely will visit second-seeded Grove City in the second round May 12. 

The winner plays 12th-seeded Pickerington Central or 38th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district semifinal May 17. 

The Cougars were 2-12 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Westerville Central on May 5.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank