Track & Field: Westerville South Wildcats feeling confident as postseason approaches

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Junior Emma Henderson has been a key competitor for South in the high jump and middle-distance events. The Wildcats compete in the OCC-Capital meet May 13 and 15 at North, followed by the Division I district meet at Hilliard Darby.

Correction: Pole vaulter Caroline Sheridan was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.

Fueled by a regular season in which program records were established, Westerville South track and field coach Jimmy Gaul is optimistic heading into the postseason. 

“We have two great groups of kids,” Gaul said. “They’re fun to be around. They’re working hard out here and they’re competing hard whenever we have the opportunity.

“I'm happy with the direction that we’re heading and the opportunities that lay in front of us in these next few weeks.” 

The Wildcats will compete in the OCC-Capital Division meet May 13 and 15 at North, an event that Gaul believes will help prepare his athletes for the district meet the following week at Hilliard Darby. 

“We’re looking forward to a different league to compete against, some new faces and some different teams,” Gaul said of the realigned OCC. “I’m excited for the opportunity to compete against some different teams and maybe have some more opportunities for all-conference honors for our kids. It doesn’t change anything (because) no matter what division you’re in, you’re going to see some of the best talent in the state.” 

The girls team is seeded 13th in the Central District and will compete in the district 1 meet May 18, 20 and 22. 

South has been led by a pair of underclassmen who have set program records. 

Junior Brooke Holloway has twice established a new standard in the pole vault, with her latest effort being 11 feet, 7 inches in the home Wildcat Invitational on April 23. 

Senior Caroline Sheridan held the previous record of 10-9 before Holloway cleared 11-6 in the Hammond Relays on March 27 at Pickerington Central. 

Sophomore Marissa Saunders has twice set the program record in the 100-meter hurdles, including a time of 14.3 seconds at the Wildcat Invitational. 

“I believe in myself and I knew I could get them,” Saunders said of the records. “I just had to work hard for it. The workouts the coaches give me, the motivation, they really encourage me to work hard and do well at meets and they always support me. … My goal is to place (in the) top three in both hurdle events (at state) and have fun out there.” 

Brielle Collier, a 2017 graduate, held the previous 100 hurdles mark of 14.41. 

Junior Emma Henderson also is hoping for a strong postseason in the high jump and middle-distance events. 

The boys team is seeded 18th and will compete in the district 3 meet May 19, 20 and 22. 

A key contributor has been senior Jaiden Guice, who expects to compete in the long jump and the 800 and 1,600 relays during the postseason. 

Guice has been joined on the relays by seniors Shamar Brittman and Tate Marcelain and freshman Jude Kowalski, who runs the anchor leg in both events. 

Guice has a personal-best effort of 21-11 in the long jump, trailing the program record of 23-6 held by Tim Bowers since 1996. 

“I’m really having a lot of fun this year,” Guice said. “I feel our relay teams can make a mark this year, especially the (1,600) in our conference, also at district and possibly even the region. I’m really having a lot of fun in the long jump, too.” 

The top four finishers in each event at district advance to the regional meet May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North. 

“The competition in central Ohio continues to get tougher and tougher every single year,” Gaul said.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank