The Delaware Hayes High School cross country teams are bolstered by 15 newcomers.

The Delaware Hayes High School cross country teams are bolstered by 15 newcomers.

Jim Bibler, in his fifth season as both boys and girls coach, realizes the influx could be beneficial down the road as nine of the newcomers are freshmen.

The boys team returns three of its top five runners in senior Daniel Nethers and juniors Bobby Oliver and Steve Swisher.

Swisher and Nethers earned second-team all-OCC-Capital honors. The Pacers finished third with 66 points behind champion Mount Vernon (52) and Watkins Memorial (56). Big Walnut (79), New Albany (106) and Olentangy Orange (148) rounded out the standings as Franklin Heights did not field a complete team.

Sophomore Zach Flint also returns after competing in the postseason, where the Pacers finished ninth in the Division I district 1 meet. Graduate David Oliver was 16th and advanced to the regional, where he placed 73rd.

"Nethers, Swisher and Bobby Oliver are definitely our top three going into the season," Bibler said. "My goal is to get them under 17 (minutes). I think all of them can do that, possibly even reach 16:30.

"As for team goals, we'll have to close the gap between No. 3 and No. 4 in order to score better. We've got a big sophomore class who got experience last year and we've got four freshmen who are also competing and working hard."

Justin Kerby is the other returning senior, with classmate Lewis Mergler being a first-year runner. Other juniors include newcomers Zac Davis and Mitch Graf and returnee Zach Reed.

The sophomore class includes Connor McCabe, Seth McCurdy, Tony Morrison, Tommy Peterson, Justin Sistrunk and Flint. Rounding out the roster are freshmen Spencer Martin, Thomas Oliver, Dante Schlabach and Tyler Smith.

•The girls team lost half its roster to graduation, but has expanded from six runners to 10.

Juniors Kathleen Jackson and Kelly Robinson, as well as sopho-more Alaina Sturgill, are all back.

"Kelly and Kathleen train year-around and really work at it and care about it," Bibler said. "It would be nice for them to see the results of their efforts this year."

New to the program are the team's lone senior, Andrea Salyer, junior Caitlin Green and freshmen Christiana Binkley, Mackenzie Heller, Destinee Hughes and sisters Harlee Mollenkopf and Sierra Mollenkopf.

"The freshman class is solid and we have five runners in a class, which is the goal for both the boys and girls teams," Bibler said. "Finally, the girls team has that. Now if they can stick it out and stay together.

"The Mollenkopfs and Binkley ran for the middle school team, but it's a big jump to varsity. Heller and Hughes both ran track, so we're getting some girls with athletic experience."

The Pacers tied with Big Walnut for fifth place in the OCC last season with 110 points behind champion Watkins Memorial (42), Mount Vernon (63), New Albany (64) and Big Walnut (105). Franklin Heights did not field a complete team.

Delaware (225) was 10th in the 14-team district 1 meet as Upper Arlington (22) won.

"The goal for the girls is to improve individually and to train and work hard," Bibler said. "We're not worried about individual places or team places."