The Delaware Hayes boys track and field team has suffered some key injuries the past few weeks, but coach Sean Patrick said the Pacers will be ready for the OCC-Capital Division meet.
“The boys are doing well. There’s a lot of improvement happening on the guys side,” Patrick said. “We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries that have really set us back, but we’ve had a lot of athletes step up in response.”
Orion Ward continues to lead the Pacers in sprint events heading into the league meet May 13 and 15 at Westerville North.
Ward, who was leading the Pacers in points with 147.78 as of May 2, set personal records in the 100 meters (10.88 seconds) and 200 (22.09) in the Wildcat Invitational on April 23 at Westerville South while winning both events. Delaware was eighth (40) of 13 teams behind champion South (117).
“He’s been leading quite a few different meets and events,” Patrick said. “It’s been really fun to watch him do those things.”
“The team has been getting better each week, and we are getting a lot of (personal records),” Ward said. “The team is going to be more than ready (for the league meet) if we keep up the work.”
The Pacers will take on North, South, Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights and Worthington Kilbourne in the OCC-Capital meet, during which Patrick expects a lot from Ward.
“I think Orion has a really good chance to score a lot of points for us,” Patrick said. “And at big meets like that, those points go a long way. The big thing for us will be how do our other guys step up around that?”
In the absence of injured teammates, Patrick said several distance runners have stepped up, including Ryan Gray in the 3,200 and Luke Todt in the 3,200 and 1,600.
Todt placed second in the 3,200 (10:30.71) during a quad meet April 26 at Olentangy Orange as the Pacers finished third (34) behind champion Big Walnut (134). Gray placed fifth in the 3,200 (10:43.23).
Gray and Todt also placed first with Sebastian Stewart and Eric Stewart in the 3,200 relay (8:59.08) in the Orange quad. Patrick said both Stewarts have run well the past several weeks.
“We’ve seen those guys step up and step into those roles for us in the distance side of things,” Patrick said. “Our distance program has really taken off this year. A lot of our improvement has been in that group.”
Patrick said the Pacers also have gotten good performances in their field events.
Ben Chesnes set a personal record of 124 feet, 10 inches while placing fifth in the discus at the Olentangy Invitational on April 30 as the Pacers were fifth (84) of eight teams behind champion Orange (142).
In the pole vault, Patrick said Brady Williams has consistently hit at least 12 feet. Tyler Zembo, who Patrick said started pole vaulting three weeks into the season, placed fifth (11-0) in the Olentangy Invitational with his height being a personal record.
Girls step up
Coach Andy Graham said despite enduring several injuries, the girls track team has found a way to succeed.
“The girls are running well,” he said. “The thing is we are banged up a little bit.”
Graham said the injuries have particularly mounted on the relays, but Lanosha Smith-Woods and Tania Miles have taken on larger roles.
Miles, Smith-Woods, McKenzie Hayes and Hannah Halstead placed first in the 400 relay (52.07) in the Orange quad as the Pacers finished third (56) behind champion Big Walnut (88.5).
In the Olentangy Invitational, Miles, Smith-Woods, Hayes and Taylor Brown finished third in the 400 relay (52.49) as Delaware was fifth (44.33) behind champion Upper Arlington (166).
“They’ve really stepped up and they’ve become some of our top sprinters,” Graham said.
He said the Pacers’ relay group can do well in the OCC-Capital meet if it’s fully healthy.
“At full strength, I think what makes us most dangerous would be our relays,” Graham said. “We don’t have a single girl with that exceptional speed. However, they’re all really good. And to put them together on the right relay on the right day, we could be dangerous.”
The Pacers also have received some strong performances from their distance runners.
Brynn McGrail is a leader in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, Graham said. McGrail ran a personal-record 12:21.91 in the 3,200 in the Orange quad as she placed second.
“On the distance side it’s been exciting since we came off of some strong winter training, so we’re looking a lot stronger this season of track than we have before,” McGrail said. “We’re all so supportive of each other and have had good races across the board, so I think we have a chance to do better at OCCs this year.”
Rowan Hering ran a personal-record 2:49.39 in the 800 in the Orange quad as she placed fifth.
Gabby Anderson is the Pacers’ points leader with 78 as of May 2. She set a personal record of 99-1 in the discus while placing sixth in the Olentangy Invitational.