The Bexley High School girls cross country team is beginning to see the benefits of training in groups during the preseason.

The Bexley High School girls cross country team is beginning to see the benefits of training in groups during the preseason.

Running as a pack, the Lions placed second in the eight-team Central Ohio Invitational on Sept. 17 at Three Creeks Metro Park with 86 points behind Ready (57) and won the 11-team Whetstone Arrowhead Invitational on Sept. 21 with 40 points ahead of runner-up Watterson (67).

"We will put packs of girls together and train that way," coach Eric Acton said. "A lot of times the girls become accustom to running by each other and gain confidence that they can race together.

"This game of cross country is won or lost by the team score and not by times. These girls want their teammates to do well. They don't want to let each other down."

Maintaining a tight pack paid off last year in the Division II regional meet. The Lions were the only state-qualifying team without a runner in the top 15, but their top finisher and fifth finisher were separated by just 52 seconds, helping Bexley place second (114) behind Granville (96).

In the Central Ohio Invitational, only 58 seconds separated the Lions' top finisher (Abby Arace, 15th in 21 minutes, 14.78 seconds) and their fifth finisher (sophomore Samantha Shamhart (24th, 22:12.65).

In the Arrowhead Invitational, the Lions were able to cut that time to 54 seconds. Bexley was the only team to have three runners finish in the top 10 as sophomore Regan Detwiler (fourth, 21:07), Arace (fifth, 21:14) and Katie Wittig (seventh, 21:32) all finished behind the champion, Grandview's Halli Bair (20:19).

"We brought that pack even tighter together (in the Arrowhead Invitational)," Acton said. "The last two races really focused on staying together. They tend to draw strength from each other."

Although their pack might not be as tight as the girls team's, the boys team is getting similar results.

The Lions finished second (64) in the 15-team Division II portion of the Central Ohio Invitational behind Centennial (55) and won the Arrowhead Invitational with 60 points ahead of runner-up Worthington Kilbourne (75).

"We're coming off a couple of nice meets," Acton said. "It seems to me like we're continuing to work hard in practice. I am pretty pleased with where we are thus far."

Ian Kellogg placed second in both races, finishing in 17:06.11 in the Central Ohio Invitational and 17:10 in the Arrowhead Invitational.

However, there was a gap of 1:12 between the first and fifth finishers for Bexley in the Central Ohio Invitational and a gap of 1:45 in the Arrowhead Invitational.

"I tell the kids to take chances and experiment a little early on in the season with your race," Acton said. "We're running on some fairly flat courses and if you challenge yourself more, you can push yourself and find that you can establish a new threshold."

•The boys and girls golf teams competed in the Division II sectional tournament this week.

The boys team was seeded first in the district and competed in the sectional Sept. 27 at Granville Golf Course. The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying advanced to the district tournament Monday, Oct. 3, at River Greens in West Lafayette.

Bexley finished third (332) in the MSL-Ohio postseason tournament Sept. 20 at Clover Valley, behind Granville (310) and Newark Catholic (324).

"If we make it out of the sectional, we're going to spend the night on Oct. 2 at River Greens so we can get a couple of rounds in," coach Jim Ryan said. "I like our chances."

The girls team was seeded second for the Division II sectional tournament held Sept. 27 at Foxfire. The top five teams and top five individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the district tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at River Greens.

The girls team went into sectional play after solid finishes in the MSL and MOGGL tournaments.

Bexley finished third (373) in the MSL postseason tournament on Sept. 20 at Pine Hills, behind Logan Elm (353) and Granville (366).

The Lions placed third overall in the MSL with a 21-6 record, behind Logan Elm (25-1) and Granville (23-4) and ahead of Canal Winchester (19-7), Teays Valley (15-12), Licking Valley (8-19), Heath (7-19), Lakewood (4-23) and Liberty Union (1-25). Entering the week, league matches between Logan Elm and Liberty Union and Canal Winchester and Heath had not been played.

Bexley finished second (195) in the final round of the Division II portion of the MOGGL tournament on Sept. 22 at Bent Tree, behind Columbus School for Girls (191). The Lions finished second overall with a 23-4 record, behind Granville (24-3) with CSG (17-6) and Centerburg (11-16) rounding out the top four.