For a second consecutive season, the Delaware Hayes High School cross country team did not have a competitor in the Division I regional meet, which was last Saturday.

For a second consecutive season, the Delaware Hayes High School cross country team did not have a competitor in the Division I regional meet, which was last Saturday.

But none of the Pacers were expected to advance from the district races on Oct. 23 at Watkins Memorial, so Harlee Mollenkopf's close call in the girls district 1 race was a positive.

Mollenkopf, a sophomore, finished in a personal-record 20 minutes, 35.53 seconds to place 17th. Junior Katie Haller was 25th (21:01.64). The top 16 runners and members of the top four qualifying teams advanced.

Pickerington North's Fayth Greegor was 16th in 20:27.93. Team qualifiers included champion New Albany (34), Dublin Scioto (66), North (70) and Hilliard Darby (118). Delaware was seventh (182) in the 12-team field, also behind Westerville North (125) and Gahanna (154).

"I think a healthy Katie Haller would've helped," coach Jim Bibler said of Haller, who also played for the soccer team. "She could've made it to regional, and she may have helped Harlee, too. Katie was shooting to be in the low 20s, and she and Harlee would've pushed each other. But Katie had a groin pull from soccer that slowed her down. I'm impressed she even finished the district race."

Also competing for the Pacers in a field of 86 competitors were sophomore Sierra Mollenkopf (46th, 21:54.10), senior Kathleen Jackson (48th, 22:09.48) junior Alanna Sturgill (49th, 22:12.61), sophomore Christiana Binkley (50th, 22:13.31) and freshman Jessie Cremer (67th, 24:55.64).

"I know Harlee and Sierra were staying pretty close together and (staying) with Katie for the last few races," Bibler said. "Sierra just had a bad day, which may have been my fault. She may have overdone it in Thursday's workout. She was a little sore at district."

The boys finished eighth (205) of 14 teams, with New Albany (42) winning the district 2 race. The top five teams and those individuals not competing on a qualifying team who finished in the top 20 advanced.

Reynoldsburg (48), Hilliard Davidson (102), St. Charles (116) and Olentangy (145) also advanced, with Gahanna (147) and Worthington Kilbourne (182) also finishing ahead of the Pacers.

Senior Steve Swisher led the Pacers, finishing 26th in 17:07.85, as 97 runners competed. He was followed by juniors Zach Flint (35th, 17:26.69), Tommy Peterson (46th, 17:45.34), Justin Sistrunk (48th, 18:04.56) and Kalebh McBrearty (50th, 18:10.29), freshman Jacob Rumbalski (55th, 18:16.43) and senior Zac Davis (56th, 18:18.40).

"Steve went out hard, was up front and then was 21st at about a mile-and-a-half," Bibler said. "He gave it his best shot. Steve and Kathleen Jackson both trained so hard and were so consistent as seniors and forever. I never questioned their effort."

The district races marked the end of a decent season for both teams. The number of participants was greatly improved, but Bibler said there wasn't enough solid depth to produce better finishes. He's hoping the numbers stay up so that down the road there will be bigger junior and senior classes with runners having years of experience.

"Our numbers are up," Bibler said. "We will lose the experience of Steve and Kathleen, but there is a larger number of experienced runners coming up. We are really headed in the right direction."

The girls team was fifth (130) in the OCC-Capital meet at Newark behind Mount Vernon (57), New Albany (59), Watkins Memorial (67) and Olentangy Orange (77), and ahead of Big Walnut (132) and Hilliard Bradley (148). Franklin Heights did not field a complete team. Haller (17th, 20:37.8) and Harlee Mollenkopf (20th, 20:43.3) led the way.

The boys team was sixth (139) in the OCC-Capital meet at Newark behind New Albany (43), Watkins Memorial (55), Bradley (79), Orange (103) and Mount Vernon (131), and ahead of Big Walnut (177). Franklin Heights did not have a full team. Swisher (13th, 16:58.8) and Flint (17th, 17:11.6) led the Pacers.

"(The program) had 33 PRs in the OCC at Newark on a flat wide-open course, and Watkins winds through the woods so they knew it would be a tougher course at district," Bibler said.

Still, Davis, Peterson and McBrearty had personal records at district.

The girls were runner-up (65) to Ready (54) in the eight-team red race in the Ray Russell Invitational at Jonathan Alder on Oct. 9 as Haller (eighth, 21:39.09), Harlee Mollenkopf (ninth, 21:40.04) and Sierra Mollenkopf (12th, 22:06.0) finished in the top 15. In the Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London on Oct. 2, the girls combined with the boys team to produce 12 personal records. The girls were ninth in a 13-team field and the boys finished 10th in a 16-team field.

The boys won their eight-team division of the Ray Russell Invitational, as Swisher (17:53.09) and Flint (17:59) finished second and third and the Pacers' top five finished among the top 19.

"I'm ecstatic about this season and very happy with the team's progress," Bibler said. "I have big expectations for the boys senior class next season. It will be the biggest group of experienced runners I've had and if they get prepared, they could all approach 16 minutes. The girls, too, will be more experienced and we could have three or four approaching breaking 20 minutes, which will make it interesting."

•The football team closed its season last Friday against Olentangy Orange.

The Pacers entered the finale 3-6 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Capital Division after falling to New Albany 41-3 on Oct. 22 as the Eagles clinched a share of the league title.

Against New Albany, the Pacers strung together some first downs to produce a big advantage in time of possession. At halftime, Delaware had 34 plays and New Albany had 14.

Yet, the Eagles led 27-0 at intermission because of their quick-strike capability. Their four touchdowns came on drives totaling 3 minutes, 30 seconds. They went 81 yards on five plays in 2:00 to make it 7-0. They went 65 yards on one play in 13 seconds and 25 yards on one play in 8 seconds to make it 20-0, before going 83 yards on four plays in 1:09.

CROSS COUNTRY
Finishes: Boys - sixth in OCC-Capital, eighth in 14-team Division I district 2; Girls - fifth in OCC-Capital, seventh in 12-team Division I district 1 Seniors lost: Boys - Eric Berry, Zac Davis, Kyle Edwards, Mitch Graf, Nate Jackson, Chase Pennington, Zach Reed, Steve Swisher and Joe Wiertz; Girls - Shelby Brown, Caitlin Green, Carl Grubbs, Kathleen Jackson and Caroline Welker Key returnees: Boys - Jake Bonofiglio, Zach Flint, Kalebh McBrearty, Tommy Peterson, Jacob Rumbalski and Justin Sistrunk; Girls - Christiana Binkley, Katie Haller, Harlee Mollenkopf, Sierra Mollenkopf and Alanna Sturgill