When senior Joi Bradley competed in the Division I state meet in 2019, the Gahanna Lincoln girls track and field team used one of the state’s top groups of middle-distance runners to finish third.
The Lions again have talented athletes such as Bradley in the 400 meters as well as in events like the 1,600 and 3,200 relays, but their depth appears to be in the shorter distances.
Bradley, who was 11th at state in the 400 and also ran on the winning 1,600 relay and sixth-place 800 relay, is now being looked at as a leader in her events with the postseason approaching.
“It’s actually been going pretty well,” Bradley said. “(Our sprint corps) is one of the best we’ve had since I’ve been in high school. We have a lot of great runners, so we can switch any of us out of there and still have a great product.”
Bradley showed how much she’s grown since her last outdoor season when she placed third in the 400 in the state indoor finale March 7 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva. She also ran on the second-place 800 relay.
On April 29 and 30 in the 40-team Huber Heights Wayne Invitational, the Lions scored 118 points to capture the title as Bradley was second in the 400 (58.23 seconds) and seventh in the 200 (26.82).
She also was part of two winning relays, joining sophomores Nia Alexander and Amryne Chilton and freshman Keena Sanders on the 800 relay (1:42.08) and Alexander, Chilton and sophomore Camden Bentley on the 1,600 relay (4:01.6).
Bradley, a Northern Kentucky commit, hasn’t “taken anything for granted” this spring after the 2020 season was canceled.
“It’s all about positioning for us right now,” coach Roger Whittaker said. “We’ve got a really good team. It goes in cycles. A couple years ago, we had (2019 graduates) Madison Martinez and Shynae Deas and our distance team was really on fire, and our sprinters were just so-so.
“I said give it a couple years and that’s going to turn around because I saw the sprinters start to emerge. Right now they’re unquestionably the best sprint crew in the state. This is the deepest quality sprint crew I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot.”
Senior C’iarra Carter, junior M’Kaia Trent and sophomore Ayannah Stafford are others who have contributed in sprints.
Bentley continues to add to her hurdling résumé, finishing first in the 100 hurdles (14.46) and 300 hurdles (45.59) at Wayne. She also was on the first-place 400 shuttle hurdles (1:01.86) with senior Tamryn Lindsay and juniors Camryn Nelson and Lauren Stringer.
“(Bradley) is the funniest girl, with that dead-pan face and sense of humor that cracks you up,” Whittaker said. “I remember her sitting in my fifth-grade classroom, and I was like, ‘You’re running for me.’
“We’re No. 1 in the state in the (800 relay), No. 1 in the (1,600), No. 3 in the state in the (400 relay). A lot of times you get a crew of three girls that are really, really good and one that can hold their own, but we have probably nine quality sprinters that I can really sub in there and not lose a beat.”
Baseball team looks
to make tourney run
During an 8-1 loss to New Albany on April 19, the baseball team found itself in a 1-all tie before giving up seven runs in the bottom of the sixth as it settled for a season split with one of central Ohio’s top programs.
It’s an example of how little difference coach Mike Shade believes there may be between teams like the Eagles, who were 16-4 before playing Westerville Central on May 6, and his team.
The Lions were dealt a 13-3 loss to Hilliard Bradley on May 1, but that was the only game they were out of early during a 7-9 start.
Gahanna was 5-4 in the OCC-Ohio after losing 6-5 to Pickerington North on April 30. Bad weather wiped out games May 3 and 4.
“We’ve been in every baseball game except for one,” Shade said. “We’ve had solid pitching in every game and it’s just a matter of driving in runs when we need to and playing well defensively. We’ve been our own worst enemy at times.
“In the New Albany (loss), it was 1-1 in the sixth and we didn’t turn a double play and things kind of got crazy after that. Against Pickerington North, we had a 5-2 lead and couldn’t hold it because we had three errors in the seventh inning. It’s been that kind of stuff that’s been kind of frustrating for everybody.”
Gahanna is preparing for the Division I district tournament, which begins May 17 and features 47 teams. The Lions were a district runner-up in 2019.
Senior Zach Marzetz was 4-2 with 27 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA through his first 31 innings. Junior John Nhem had a 1.72 ERA through the Lions’ first 16 games, including a no-hitter in a 10-1 win over Westerville Central on April 21, while junior Maddox Burnworth also has pitched in league games.
Offensively, Shade said seniors Jordan Daniels (CF) and Cameron Lewis (3B) and juniors Garrett Helsel (1B) and Brady Reed (2B) have led the way.
“Zach is more of a power pitcher and with him and Maddox, those two are right-handed while Johnny Nhem is a left-hander,” Shade said. “Those three have been logging most of the innings. They compete and give us a chance to be in a baseball game. Unfortunately we haven’t gotten the base hits with men in scoring position or haven’t made the play defensively behind them, and that’s been the difference.”
Girls lacrosse team
tunes up for tourney
The girls lacrosse team snapped a two-game losing streak with a 14-11 victory over Olentangy Orange on May 1.
The Lions, who beat Westerville North 17-1 on April 22, lost to Pickerington Central 21-9 on April 26 to drop to 1-2 in the OCC-Ohio.
They were 5-8 overall after losing 22-6 to Watterson on May 4.
The Division I regional tournament is scheduled to begin May 15.
Against Orange, freshman midfielder Addy Haines finished with a program-record six assists while junior attacker Kenzie Streby scored six goals and senior attacker Anna Linnabary added three goals.
Streby recently returned after missing the season’s first month with a wrist injury.
“We’ve been more together as a team and have just been pushing ourselves, growing each game,” coach Stephanie Belz said. “(We’ve been) encouraging each other, playing our game. One thing I strive for as a coach is teaching the rules, making sure we’re not playing dirty. Other teams have been playing dirty and the girls get mad about it, but we know how to play lacrosse and we don’t have to play dirty to win.”