Track & Field: Hilliard Davidson’s Jack De Francesco, central Ohio contingent soar at state

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Hilliard Davidson's Jack De Francesco celebrates after clearing 16 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault during the Division I state meet June 4 at Hilliard Darby. He finished second behind Cincinnati Turpin’s Paul Signorelli (16-10).

After placing sixth in the pole vault in the Division I regional boys track and field meet May 26 at Pickerington North, Hilliard Davidson junior Jack De Francesco was uncertain of his fate for state.

The top four regional finishers earned automatic berths, with two at-large berths also awarded based on the top heights statewide.

De Francesco earned an at-large berth along with Olentangy Orange’s Kaleb Cramblett and took advantage of his opportunity by placing second at state June 4 at Hilliard Darby. He easily topped his outdoor program record of 15 feet, 6 inches by clearing 16-6 to finish behind Cincinnati Turpin’s Paul Signorelli (16-10).

“It was a little rough performing poorly at regional,” De Francesco said. “It was on the line (and I was wondering) am I even going to get to be here, and I just wanted to come out here and show I belonged here and I’m glad I got the opportunity.”

Orange’s Jonathan Petersen finished third (16-2), Thomas Worthington’s Luka Srsic was fourth (15-10) and Olentangy Berlin’s Luke Walden tied for sixth (15-0).

The Dublin Coffman and Davidson girls 3,200 relays finished second and third, respectively, behind Mentor (9 minutes, 4.73 seconds).

“It feels amazing,” said Kylie Feeney, who anchored Coffman’s relay (9:07.91). “I wasn’t 100 percent sure (about the race), but I really wanted to help my team and do whatever I could to do for them.”

She was joined by Abigail Scherer, Olivia Oiler and Kasey Stammen.

“It’s so deep, especially in Ohio in this event,” said Lindsay Stull, who anchored Davidson’s relay (9:12.49). “We just really wanted to go in and see how well we could compete and see how it turned out on the day.”

She was joined by Caitlyn Jones, Dillion Sweetman and Keagan Gehring.

The Pickerington Central boys 3,200 relay, which won the event in 2019, finished third (7:49.46) behind first-place West Chester Lakota West (7:47.48).

“It’s been very exciting putting everything together, this being my last year and doing it with the guys that I’ve been with since junior high,” said Garner Wallace, who led off the relay. “It’s just awesome being up there finishing off the year like this.”

Wallace, who will play football at Northwestern, was joined by Charles Balko, Gavin Kelly and Jailen Wills. Wallace and Wills were part of the 2019 relay.

Bexley’s Sydnie Smith finished second in the discus (131-10), Darby’s Alex Smith was second in the long jump (23-7 ¼), Darby’s Cameron McNeil was fourth in the shot put (58-4 ¾), Central’s Kwabena Asamoah was seventh in the shot put (54-10 ¾) and Gahanna’s Faith Hunter was seventh in the high jump (5-4).

DIVISION II

Eastmoor Academy was in the upper half of the 3,200 relay through three legs in the Division II state meet June 4 at Pickerington North before settling for 10th (8:10.01). 

Running for the Warriors were senior Kalani Booker, junior Devin Lloyd, sophomore Preston Davis and freshman Domonick Lloyd. 

Also competing in the 3,200 relay was Watterson, which featured senior Will Garey and juniors Max Hall, Cris Kubatko and Max Latshaw and finished 11th (8:13.46). 

Qualifying for boys finals that will be held June 5 were Hartley junior Trey Saunders in the 100, Bexley sophomore Mason Louis in the 100, 200 and 400, Centennial junior Daishawn Gossett in the 300 hurdles, Eastmoor junior Isaiah Pressley in the 400 and its 400 relay of seniors Cameron Foster and Larenz Lacking, junior Jaeden Valdez and sophomore Christian Monroe. 

Columbus South junior Spiritual Wilson Foster Wright qualified for the final in the girls 400. 

—Jarrod Ulrey 

DIVISION III

Africentric’s Justin Fudge got over some early jitters to win the boys state long jump in the Division III state meet June 4 at Westerville North.

Fudge jumped 21-11, one-quarter inch better than Salineville Southern’s Brad Sloan (21-10 3/4).

“At the time I entered the gates I was anxious, but when I felt the track I got excited about it,” Fudge said. “Instead of watching everyone jump, I went off by myself to stay focused and I got the job done.”

Through four scored boys events, the Nubians were tied for second with 10 points, behind McDonald (14).

For Grandview, Collin Haj Abed placed fourth in the long jump in a personal-best 21-5 3/4, Connor McCormick was 10th in the pole vault (13-0) and Denison Murphy, Adam Bechtel, Riley Oller and Derek Amicon were 14th in the 3,200 relay (8:23.98).

For the Bobcats girls, Tayler Pierce tied for 10th in the high jump (5-10) and the 3,200 relay was 13th (9:57.92) with Hannah Yochem, Abbie Baxter, Greta Tew and Madeline Palmisciano.

—Scott Hennen

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