David Oliver had done his homework.
David Oliver had done his homework.
The senior on the Delaware Hayes High School boys cross country team knew who his competition would be entering the Division I, district 1 race Oct. 18 at Watkins Memorial. What he could not have planned for were the aches and pains his body was feeling because of the cold he obtained in the days leading up to the race.
Oliver was able to persevere, as he finished 16th in 16 minutes, 44.61 seconds to earn the final regional-qualifying spot from his race.
"I thought I had a chance to finish in the top 10, but I found myself just trying to hold my position and just advance," said Oliver, who tied his personal best that he set Oct. 4 in the Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington. "I knew where I was at all times because (coach Jim Bibler) was yelling out the numbers. I think I was 14th at one point and 15th near the end and that I could only let one guy pass me."
The top 16 individuals and top four teams advanced to the regional, which was last Saturday. From there, the top four teams and 16 individuals qualified for the state meet, which is Saturday at Scioto Downs.
Oliver was the only member of the boys or girls team to advance.
The boys team was ninth (213 points) in the 14-team field behind champion Hilliard Darby (31). The other qualifying teams were Pickerington North (68), Olentangy Liberty (107) and Upper Arlington (155).
Also scoring for Delaware among the 101 competitors were Steve Swisher (24th, 16:58.27), Daniel Nethers (51st, 17:43.75), Raymond Chittock (54th, 17:51.33) and Bobby Oliver (18:17.67). Also competing were Zach Flint (69th, 18:21.36) and Greg Flaglor (82nd, 19:07.35).
"For David to tie his PR when he was sick all weekend was terrific," Bibler said last Tuesday. "He was relieved and excited to get through it. Heck, he's still sick and missed half a day of school today."
Bibler was disappointed for the rest of the boys team, though.
"I thought they would've done better," he said. "In the (OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 11), Nethers was on Swisher's tail, so that pulled our entire pack up closer together. That was the goal at district, but instead we got more spread out than we had hoped."
The girls team was 10th (225) in a 12-team field behind champion Upper Arlington (22) and regional-qualifiers Dublin Coffman (83), Reynoldsburg (120) and Olentangy Liberty (137).
Competing for the Pacers were Eva Kostyu (24th, 20:43.66), Sam Catania (32nd, 21:05.17), Kathleen Jackson (45th, 21:46.39), Alanna Sturgill (56th, 22:49.59), Kelly Robinson (68th, 23:24.19) and Gabrielle Dotson (79th, 25:25.05).
"Eva had her season-best time and Kelly and Kathleen both had PRs," Bibler said. "It was a nice effort for them."
•When Andrew Broehm's kick settled into the top right corner of the net Oct. 18, one of the boys soccer team's best seasons ended for Delaware, as visiting Reynoldsburg beat the 11th-seeded Pacers 2-1 in a shootout in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The shootout was tied at 3 before the Raiders took their fifth and final attempt.
"To go out that way is just vicious, especially for those seniors," said coach Brett Barber, whose team finished 11-5-2. "They were nearly inconsolable. There were no words of wisdom I could give them. In my eight years coaching at Ohio Wesleyan, we were in three of those shootouts and won all of them. This is the first time I get to feel the other side of it."
Alex Stanton gave the Pacers their 1-0 lead with 7:08 remaining.
"We had the ball in the midfield with 40 seconds to go and Cooper Eastham gets tackled from behind and nothing is called," Barber said. "We had a chance to maintain possession and end the game. Instead, they get a final chance and they score off a handball, in the box, that was without a doubt a blown call."
Sweeper Matt Taylor scored with 17 seconds left to tie the game.
"It was obvious," Barber said. "My guys ran to where the ball was going and (Taylor) knocked it to his feet and took the shot. He was real smooth with it, but it was still obvious. In fact, I swore you could hear it hit his hand."
Although Barber still is upset, he did tell his Pacers they should not have been in that situation anyway.
"We had ample opportunities and didn't put them away," he said. "It shouldn't have come down to that. It was one of those nights."
The Raiders outshot the Pacers 23-21. Reynoldsburg goalkeeper Taylor Gustavson made 15 saves, including one on a Delaware penalty kick in the first overtime. Nate Stuntz had 16 saves for the Pacers, who got successful shots by Andrew Koukis, Stanton and Matt Naticchia in the shootout.
The Pacers won their first league championship since 2002, going 4-0-2 in the OCC-Capital to finish ahead of Mount Vernon (4-1-1), Olentangy Orange (2-1-3), Big Walnut and New Albany (both 2-2-2), Watkins Memorial (1-3-2) and Franklin Heights (0-6).
Delaware will lose seniors Grant Groff, Spencer Kauf, Koukis, Pittman Kuchers, Brent Spivey and Matt Schmitthenner.
Groff, a forward, scored 17 goals and had seven assists. He was first-team all-district as well as the Player of the Year in the OCC-Capital. Koukis (midfielder) and Spivey (defense) were second-team all-league.
"It's a credit to Groff, Koukis and Stanton, our three captains, that we had a season like this," said Barber, who was OCC-Capital Coach of the Year. "We expected a good season after a slow start because of all the new faces we had. I never expected anything like this.
"Unfortunately, replacing Grant and Andrew will be a tall order and Brent was a rock at outside back as well."
However, the Pacers expect juniors Cooper Eastham (forward/midfield), Matt Naticchia (center back), Stanton (midfield) and Stuntz to return to lead the way next season. Stanton was third-team all-district and joined Stuntz and Groff on first team in the league. Naticchia was second-team all-league and Eastham was honorable mention.
Other juniors expected to return are Tanner Carlson (forward), Alex Hall (outside back) and Lewis Mergler (goalkeeper).
Expected returnees from the sophomore class include Alex Boger, Jamey Hackett, Corey Kuchers and Brice Mitchell. Also expected back is freshman Blake Lehman, who started in the midfield.
"We'll call on Alex a lot next season, and having Naticchia and Stuntz back is huge, too," Barber said. "Naticchia was as solid as they come back there and Stuntz made so much progression in the box this season it's unbelievable.
"Plus Lehman got strong and stronger as the season went on and we've got some guys champing at the bit to get in there. Boger was phenomenal the last few weeks and Corey Kuchers will slide right into the lineup as well. We have a lot of great sophomores who were stuck behind a great senior class this year. Next year, it's their turn to step up and help us build on the foundation we built this year."