John F. Kennedy's boys track and field team is fresh off splitting a regional title with South Range at last week's Division III Navarre Regional.
Now, the Eagles are focused on something bigger - a state championship.
The closest JFK has been to a title was sharing Class AA runner-up honors with LaBrae in 1984.
This year's hopes for Kennedy's first state crown starts with sophomore hurdler Chad Zallow, who won both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at this year's district and regional meets.
Then, there's junior Carl Zallow, who claimed district and regional championships in the 100.
"I think we've really got to work with our sprinter and hurdlers," JFK coach Robert Andrews said. "Chad is going to have a great challenge in the 300s. There's a couple of guys out there. We want to get him in position where he has a chance to win both of those."
However, Carl knows himself, Chad and seniors Rob Seger and Zach Watt have to be on their game in the 4x200 relay.
There was a hiccup between the handoff with Seger and Carl at districts.
"That can be fixed by state meet," Seger said. "I think we'll be able to go 1:28. We can tweak a lot right now and get ready for the state meet."
"That cost us some time. We need every tenth of a second, every hundredth of a second," Andrews said.
Kennedy won the 4x200 state title in 2004 and 2007.
As for Watt, he'll compete in the 400.
The state meet begins today at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus with the Division III semifinals.
If Kennedy makes one of the top eight times in each of their events, it will advance to Saturday's finals.
From there, the Eagles will look to be flying high.
"I think if we get 40 points and get something out of Zach, we'll be in good shape," Andrews said. "We're going to work hard with him and try to get him in the top four. Forty points can do something for you at that meet."
Both times the Rockets went for the Division III title, they finished second.
In 2010, St. Thomas Aquinas edged out Maplewood, even though the Rockets ran a school-record 7:50.51.
Last year, Columbus Academy captured its second straight distance relay crown by holding off the Rockets.
Columbus Academy and Gilmour Academy are the ones Maplewood would have to go through if the Rockets want to win its first 4x800 state title since 2003.
Maplewood has the best regional time in the state, running 7:55.68 - 10 seconds off its best time of the season.
"We're hitting our stride where we need to be," Rockets anchor and senior Wyatt Hartman said. "We realize other teams are going to cut time. That happened our freshman year. Aquinas came out of nowhere. We're by no means comfortable where we're at, but we were happy with our performance (last Wednesday)."
Maplewood has a 4x400 team, Hartman and Derek Morrison in Saturday's 800, and Stephen Pop is in today's discus.
Pop, whose best throw was 170 feet, 2 inches to win the Division III Independence district title, finished second to an upstart Rootstown's David Paliscak, who threw 178-8 to win at regionals. Pop took second.
"I'm excited for next week. I can throw farther and I guess next week is the time to do it," Pop said at the Navarre Regional.
In the 100, she surges ahead over the final three hurdles, which gives her an advantage.
"I don't know if it is because I'm a 300 hurdler too," Gunther said. "I don't know if that gives me more of an edge at the end of the race than the beginning of the race. It's always been my thing, I just have that extra push at the end of the race."
Speed will be essential for her today to get her to the finals.
"I honestly think it's going to be close," Gunther said. "It's going to be a close race regardless. I'm going to do a lot of speed work this week, quicken my steps in between the hurdles and just hope for the best in Columbus."
"Going down to state and getting on the podium is a huge accomplishment," said Harris, who competes Saturday. "Anything better than last year I'll be happy with."
Meanwhile, Jordan Lowther is going this morning in the shot put. Lowther's best throw was his state-qualifying toss of 51-7.75.
The two favorites in the event are Waverly's Dylan Dyke and Sandusky Perkins' Aaron Mawhirter.
"For Jordan in the throws, I know there are two kids, one from Waverly," Lakeview boys coach Mark Swinning said. "He won the indoor state in the shot. Then there's one Perkins that is throwing in the upper 50s. He's got a pretty high mountain to go up. It's going to be a good experience for him. Regardless of what happens, it's going to be an experience he can use for next year to maybe get him a little deeper in the state rankings."
Interestingly enough, Swinning hails from Waverly.
"It's not only going to be nice to have one of my guys go down and compete against him, but it will be nice to go down and see some people from back home and retouch and get back together with some people I haven't seen in a while," Swinning said.