Missing his No. 2 runner, St. Charles Preparatory School cross country coach Damien Brandon knew the odds were against his team advancing to the Division I state meet.
But he was happy with the effort put forth by his runners and believes the experience will help them build for next season.
In the regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, the Cardinals finished 14th of 16 teams with 347 points. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
"Connor Bowman, a senior who is our No. 2 runner, has been out with a stress fracture (in a leg) since the CCL meet (Oct. 13), so we knew this wasn't going to be easy," said Brandon, who completed his fourth season leading the program. "There were five of the top 10 (state-ranked) teams here (at regional), and only four get out to state. It was a very competitive regional."
Competing at regional were fourth-ranked Hilliard Davidson, fifth-ranked Westerville North, sixth-ranked Dublin Jerome, seventh-ranked Olentangy Liberty and New Albany, which was tied for 10th with Mentor.
Teams advancing to state were Westerville North (79), Davidson (88), Liberty (108) and New Albany (114). Jerome finished sixth (168) behind fifth-place Lancaster (134).
Senior Brian Vetter finished 41st for the Cardinals in 17 minutes, 2.95 seconds. Jacob Dumford of Westerville North won in 15:51.81.
Sophomore Nick Marino (72nd, 17:31.96) was next for St. Charles, followed by sophomore Brendan Harty (77th, 17:34.38), junior Anthony Schneider (101st, 17:54.41), junior Will Herriman (102nd, 17:55.6), sophomore Nate Herriman (104th, 17:56.79) and junior Eric Taylor (18:07.6).
"I'm pretty happy with the way we ran, and we didn't have anyone give up," said Brandon, whose team competed in its third consecutive regional. "They ran hard and gave it all that they had.
"Anthony Schneider moved up a couple of places for us and Nick Marino was our No. 2 runner for the first time since week two. He had a good race for us."
In the district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial, the Cardinals finished fourth (132) of 13 teams as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional. Westerville North (45) won.
Vetter (eighth, 17:20.05) led St. Charles as Kent Ford of Westerville North was first in 16:55.71. Harty (26th, 17:55.06) was next for the Cardinals, followed by Nate Herriman (30th, 18:02.95), Marino (31st, 18:08.86), Will Herriman (37th, 18:13.46), Schneider (39th, 18:15.9) and senior Angelo Rivera (42nd, 18:20.65).
The Cardinals won their sixth consecutive CCL championship and 13th in 14 seasons. St. Charles scored 19 points to win the league meet at Westerville Recreation Center ahead of Watterson (56), DeSales (68), Ready (116) and Hartley (120).
Vetter won the race in 16:53.6 with Harty in second in 17:15.7 and Marino third in 17:22.4. Nate Herriman (sixth, 17:35.8) was next, followed by Will Herriman (seventh, 17:36), Taylor (ninth, 17:46) and Bowman (12th, 17:59.6).
"We have the experience of running in big races now, and that should help us next year," Marino said.
"We know how good the competition is (at regional) and we can be ready for that."
Football season ends with victory
The football team finished 6-4 overall by defeating host Marion Harding 35-7 on Oct. 26.
Sean Fitzmartin rushed for 211 yards on 22 carries and had two of his three touchdowns in the first half as the Cardinals built a 28-0 lead. It was the senior's third consecutive game with 200-plus rushing yards.
St. Charles had all of its 403 yards on the ground as NiQuille Bell had a 49-yard scoring run and Ryan Bailey added a 1-yard score. Graham Plageman had a two-point conversion run.
The Cardinals finished 0-2 in the CCL-Silver Division after losing to Watterson 21-17 on Oct. 19, as Fitzmartin ran for 204 yards on 21 carries. Jonathan Radney had 128 yards rushing with touchdowns of 68 and 6 yards on 12 carries, and John Colosimo made a 28-yard field goal.