Girls Track & Field: Westerville North Warriors learning on the run after lost 2020 season

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
North sophomore Amanda Cooper (left) and junior Erin Mayle warm up before practice April 6. Both are expected to help lead the Warriors’ distance and middle-distance runners.

With its sprint corps decimated after the season that wasn’t, the Westerville North girls track and field team will look to its distance runners to lead the way.

Sprinters Jalyse Cornley and Jaiden Stokes graduated in 2020 after their final prep season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Stokes now runs at Brown.

Juniors Paige Miracle and Erin Mayle and sophomore Amanda Cooper are expected to lead the Warriors’ distance and middle-distance runners.

“We lost a lot last year with COVID and Jalyse and Jaiden and some of the others in the sprints,” said coach Johnny Jackson, who is in his 17th season. “We should have a decent distance squad this year with Paige, Amanda, Erin and some others coming along.”

Seniors Autymn Briggs and Chrissy Widman, junior Ashley Kisor and sophomore RayNah Baker hope to fill the sprinting void.

Briggs and Widman are two of the team’s three seniors along with pole-vaulter Kellie Koch, who is nursing a hip injury.

“We’re just so young and the kids missed so much not having last year,” Jackson said. “Two of our groups (freshmen and sophomores) are in their first year of high school track. Only our seniors and juniors have experience.”

Cooper and Mayle specialize in middle distance, and Miracle should have distance help from juniors Hannah Hutto and Emily Widman. Hutto also will be in the high jump, but the long jump and the throws feature several young athletes still learning the ropes.

“There are just so many things we don’t know right now because of our inexperience,” Jackson said. “We have kids who could get better as the season goes along, but they still have a lot to learn.”

INSIDE THE WARRIORS

Coach: Johnny Jackson, 17th season

Next meet: April 16 at Granville Invitational

Key athletes: RayNah Baker, Autymn Briggs, Amanda Cooper, Hannah Hutto, Ashley Kisor, Kellie Koch, Erin Mayle, Paige Miracle and Chrissy Widman

New coach setting

course for Warhawks

Central has a new coach as David Mentlow has replaced Ryan Borland, who stepped down after 12 seasons to take over the Big Walnut boys program. 

Mentlow was an assistant in the program the past 10 seasons and is the cornerbacks coach for the football team. 

“We have a very good senior class,” Mentlow said. “We have an older group and we have a nice amount of young kids who are new to it, so it’s been pretty fun.” 

The Warhawks should receive strong performances throughout the lineup, led by senior sprinters Chiedza Guyo, Moriah Johnson and Skylar Themelaras. 

Guyo also will compete in the long jump, and junior Taylor Hickman will compete in the sprints and long jump. 

Freshman Olivia Pace is another key sprinter. 

Key distance runners are seniors Lauryn Chapman and Ashley Hockstok and junior Tara Will. 

Senior Mariah Jones is the top competitor in the discus and shot put. 

“With the older group, we’re very experienced and we have the opportunity to go pretty far into the postseason as long as we stay healthy,” Mentlow said. “Our sprint group and our distant group have a chance to score well at district and regional and will have a great opportunity once we get to the state meet.” 

INSIDE THE WARHAWKS 

Coach: David Mentlow, first season 

Next meet: April 16 at New Albany Invitational 

Key athletes: Lauryn Chapman, Chiedza Guyo, Taylor Hickman, Ashley Hockstok, Moriah Johnson, Mariah Jones, Skylar Themelaras and Tara Will 

—Frank DiRenna

Wildcats feature

balanced roster

South should have a balanced lineup led by sophomore sprinter and hurdler Marissa Saunders, who was named the Outstanding Performer at the Upper Arlington Invitational on April 2. 

Coach Jim Gaul is in his 37th season. 

“Marissa is a special talent,” said Jimmy Gaul, who oversees the boys and girls teams and is Jim’s son. “We’re excited for what the possibilities hold for her. ... Right out of the gate she’s at a place where very few people have been. She’s a great person and a great student.” 

Other key sprinters are juniors Abby Cumming-Vukovic and Tiara Takyi and sophomores Gia Golden and Lauryn Swanson. 

Junior Brooke Holloway holds the outdoor (11 feet) and indoor (11-6) program records in the pole vault. She is joined in the event by senior Caroline Sheridan, who held the previous outdoor record of 10-9, and senior Josie Patil. 

Key distance runners are senior Taylor Hughes and freshmen Sarah Marinov, Aubrey Paes and Meghan Worch. 

Junior Emma Henderson will contribute in the middle-distance events and high jump, and freshman Zoe Guice will compete in the long jump. 

Seniors Angel Long and Gracie Pillow and freshman Anne Keir are key throwers. 

INSIDE THE WILDCATS 

Coach: Jim Gaul, 37th season 

Next meet: April 16 at New Albany Invitational 

Key athletes: Abby Cumming-Vukovic, Emma Henderson, Brooke Holloway, Taylor Hughes, Gracie Pillow, Marissa Saunders and Caroline Sheridan 

—Frank DiRenna

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