The girls track and field postseason has reached regional, with action this week at Pickerington North (Division I, Wednesday and Friday), Lexington (Division II, Thursday and Saturday) and Heath (Division III, Wednesday and Friday).
In Division I district competition at Hilliard Darby, champions were Olentangy (94 points, district 1), Gahanna Lincoln (145.5, district 2) and Olentangy Orange (133.5, district 3). Olentangy Liberty (105) won the district 4 meet at Granville.
In Division II at Westerville South, Columbus Academy (92) won the title. In Division III at Granville, Fairbanks finished first (124).
At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 2 and 3 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Here are seven storylines heading into the regional meets:
1. Ady Armstrong, Gianna Lane pacing Hilliard Darby girls
The addition of Lane, a sophomore transfer from Tree of Life, has given Darby another solid contributor and an invaluable training partner for Armstrong, a junior.
“Gianna coming over has pushed Ady,” coach Devon Staten said. “She has somebody to work out with, so it makes it a lot more fun.”
The pair helped lead the Panthers to a third-place finish (88) in the district 1 meet. Lane and Armstrong crossed the finish line together in the 200 meters in 24.96, with Lane (program-record 24.951) later being awarded the win ahead of Armstrong (24.957) following a review.
Armstrong finished first (12.19) ahead of Lane (12.23) in the 100 and also won the 400 (57.36), while Lane was second in the long jump (17-11 ¾).
“We have a great friendship,” Lane said. “We’ve been friends for years because we played soccer when we were little. We support each other. It’s competition, but it’s all love at the end of the day.”
Armstrong holds program records in the 100 (12.1) and 400 (56.67), and Armstrong and Lane ran on the program-record 400 relay (49.03).
“It’s been good because we’ve been able to push each other to our limits,” Armstrong said. “People like to say it’s me against her, but at the end of the day, we’re just running together and for each other and we want the best for each other.”
2. Kiera Bonds closing out strong career at Westland
In a prep career shortened to three seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bonds became one of Westland’s most prolific girls track athletes.
She earned a regional berth in the long jump, winning with a program-record 18-5 in the district 2 meet. She finished 16th (16-7 ½) last season at state.
“Last season has definitely been motivation,” Bonds said. “Coaching has always been on and off for the past four years since I’ve been at Westland. I’ve had five coaches in my four years. I’m excited to see what I can do at regional.”
Bonds also holds the program record in 100 (12.52). The previous record of 12.7 was held by her aunt, Jovita Watson, a 1993 graduate.
“She has massive amounts of potential and we’re seeing it all come together right now,” coach Nathan Hoffman said. “It’s just awesome to see. She’s definitely one of the top athletes I’ve ever coached.”
Bonds and her teammates dealt with a coaching change at the start of the season after Mika Hayes stepped down. Hayes was replaced by Hoffman, a social studies teacher at Westland and former distance coach for several area programs.
3. Bexley’s Smith sisters advance to regional
Senior twins Sydnie and Isabelle Smith will be among those representing Bexley in the Division I regional.
Sydnie, a three-time regional qualifier, two-time state qualifier and Iowa commit, won the shot put (37-4 ¾) and discus (148-3) in the district 4 meet as the Lions finished fifth (65). She holds the program records in the discus (153-3) and shot put (42-4).
Isabelle will be making her first regional appearance after finishing third in the shot put (35-7 ¼) and fourth in the discus (101-8) at district.
“She’s my biggest hype man,” Sydnie said. “We definitely get each other ready.”
“My improvement shows how hard I’ve worked to get here,” Isabelle said.
They are the nieces of former Ohio State women’s basketball standout Katie Smith.
4. Amelia Smith helps lead Olentangy to district championship
The Braves’ district 1 title included Smith, a senior, eclipsing her program record in winning the long jump (18-7 ¾). She also earned regional berths in the 400 (second, 58.26) and 100 (fourth, 12.54) and with the first-place 1,600 relay (4:00.29).
Smith, a Kent State commit, also holds the program records in the 100 (12.43) and 400 (57.7).
“It’s awesome seeing my name on the school record (list),” Smith said. “It’s such a big accomplishment.”
5. Grove City’s Gracie Smith earns regional berth in 100 hurdles
A dual-sport athlete in the spring, Smith earned her first regional berth by winning the 100 hurdles (15.13) in the district 1 meet as Grove City finished ninth (39). Smith also plays outfield for the softball team.
“Whenever I come to district it’s usually when softball is over,” Smith said. “These have been my first couple of real races because of softball.”
She has committed to Ohio University in track.
“I never go in expecting to win even if I’m seeded first,” Smith said. “I always want to continue to push myself. Finally getting to regional feels amazing. After deciding that I wanted to go run in track in college, it pushed me to start to focus a lot more on track even though I was still playing softball.”
6. Fairbanks looking for Division III regional title
Fairbanks enters the regional after capturing its third consecutive district championship.
“These girls are incredibly impressive,” coach Patrick Cotter said. “We qualified 13 events for regional.”
At district, Macey Miller won the 100 hurdles (15.63), 300 hurdles (47.84) and high jump (5-0) and was second in the long jump (15-7 ¾), Kinley Green won the 100 (12.79) and 200 (26.61) and Rachael Hoover won the 800 (2:12.92) and 1,600 (5:14.1).
“We were regional runners-up last year,” Cotter said. “They know what the district title takes and they know how close they were last year to a regional title, so they’re going to go out and have another phenomenal week and get after it again.”
7. Juliette Laracuente-Huebner leads Highland at district
The senior standout, a Cincinnati commit, equaled the Division II state record in the 100 hurdles (13.89) while leading Highland to third place (56) at district. Perry’s Leah King recorded a 13.89 in 2018.
Laracuente-Huebner also won the 200 (personal-best 24.84) and long jump (19-2 ½) and was second in the high jump (5-5).
“In the jumps, I’m just trying to get through on those all the way to state and then pop some big ones there,” she said. “I’m happy with all my numbers this weekend. …
“Sometimes district is a beast of its own because I have to compete three different days, so that is pretty tough because I don’t get a lot of training in during the week.”
In March, Laracuente-Huebner earned the Division II/III indoor state title for Highland, accounting for all of her team’s 40 points by winning the long jump, high jump, triple jump and 60 hurdles.