Granville’s first regional experience in Division I was bittersweet.
Nothing was bitter about this trip for the Blue Aces. Granville worked its way up the regional standings in several events, and the Blue Aces were regional runners-up when it was done Friday.
“We really bounced back from last year,” senior Cody Lenfest said. “We had a few people graduate that were a very big part of the team, and we definitely can’t replace them. I think we did the best of a job that we really could.
“We have moved forward and improved and learned from the fifths and the sixths and the heartbreak losses. We really have gone past that and said, ‘This is our year.'”
Granville, which dealt with multiple near-misses in 2012, qualified athletes in five individual events and two relays to the state meet from the regional meet at Pickerington North. The Blue Aces finished a strong second with 59.5 points behind the host Panthers’ 99.
Granville did not have any regional champions. But Tyler Otterstedt in the 1,600 (4:17.70), Casey Lenfest in the 200 (21.77) and Cody Lenfest in the 300 hurdles (38.92) each placed second. The Blue Aces’ 1,600 relay also was second (3:18.60).
“This is so much better,” said Otterstedt, who finished fifth in the 1,600 in 2012. “Overall, the entire race felt a lot better. I was in more control of where I wanted to be, and I just felt stronger. I could do exactly what I wanted to do. Tactically, I ran great.”
Otterstedt finished second to Westerville North standout Jacob Dumford as Otterstedt never let him get too far away. In the 800, Dumford came from behind to shock Newark’s Anthony Johnson.
Johnson used his patented strong first 400 to take a sizable lead. Dumford, who likely was helped by an hour storm delay between his races, rallied to upset Johnson — 1:52.01 to 1:52.23.
“I am not the best at pacing, so I usually try to run as hard the first lap and keep it hard the rest of the time. He seemed to get me at the end.”
Casey Lenfest was edged by Gahanna standout Riak Reese. Not to be outdone, Cody Lenfest was unable to run down Pickerington North’s Desmond Palmer, who might threaten the state record in the 300 hurdles.
“Second place to someone that is running insane times is nothing to be disheartened about, for sure,” said Cody Lenfest, who qualified in the long jump earlier in the week. “But, you can bet I am going to be bringing it next week.”
Hunter Rogerson was third for Granville in the 110 hurdles (14.75), and he joined Ajay Alderman and the Lenfest brothers on the third-place 800 relay (1:28.34). The Lenfests were joined by Otterstedt and Trey Zangmeister on the 1,600 relay — which ran a season best — again trailing Pickerington North.
“It has been awesome,” Zangmeister said. “They really brought leadership because I am the new guy (on the relay). I have loved every minute of it.”
Newark’s Toby Hardwick was unable to recover from a fall and placed eighth in the 1,600 (4:32.36). Licking Heights’ Matt Gebremedhin placed sixth in the 800 (1:55.63).
A trying week for Watkins Memorial came to a close, and the Warriors finally had a chance to smile. Assistant coach Charlie Watkins died this past weekend. Senior Nic Eader honored his coach by placing fourth in the shot put (51-feet-8).
“This is what he would have wanted,” Eader said. “The distance doesn’t matter as long as you are moving on.
“When the lady read them off, it just hit me when they read the fifth place, and it wasn’t my name.”
Eader will be joined at next weekend’s state meet by classmate Ethan George, who placed third in the 300 hurdles (39.47). Despite placing fifth in the 1,600 relay, George, Connor Severino, Vinny Anderson and Chance Abbitt broke the school record (3:22.32).
Hunter Holton tied for fifth in the high jump (6-4) and placed eighth in the 110 hurdles (15.75). Abbitt placed sixth in the 400 (49.84), and Donovan Garrison placed eighth in the 100 (11.31).
In the girls meet, sophomore Josie Woosley placed fourth in the 1,600 (5:09.36) after competing in the 2012 state meet in the 800. Stephanie Robb was sixth in the 800 (2:16.53), and the 800 relay was eighth (1:46.26).