The Delaware Hayes High School cross country teams are reaching out to bring in athletes from other sports.

The Delaware Hayes High School cross country teams are reaching out to bring in athletes from other sports.

The growing number of participants has coach Jim Bibler excited about the future. This season, there are 59 runners competing, up 14 from the start of last season.

"It's exciting to see the growth, but it'd be even better to see this type of turnout in the lower levels so they come in as freshmen experienced at running distance," Bibler said. "Right now, we're getting kids from other sports competing to stay in shape for their sport, and that's awesome. Maybe they'll enjoy this experience and continue with the program and continue to improve."

Senior Katie Haller is an example. Last season, Haller, a leader on the soccer team, chose to compete in cross country for the first time and became one of the team's top runners.

"Katie is back and two of her soccer teammates, (senior) Maddie Stuntz and (junior) Taylor McGinnis, came with her," Bibler said. "McGinnis is also one of the sprinters I brought over from the track team. (Junior) Tayler Reid and (sophomore) Emily Richards are the others. Then there's (senior) Jessica Ward, a swimmer and very competitive girl who is out for the first time."

Returning with Haller are juniors Harlee and Sierra Mollenkopf and Christiana Binkley, as well as seniors Kia Schleutz and Alanna Sturgill.

"This is Alanna's fourth year with the program and the Mollenkopf twins had strong summers," Bibler said. "It will be interesting to see what the sprinters can do. They used to think a lap around the track was tough. This will make them mentally and physically stronger. Plus, we've got a couple of freshmen who had good middle school careers in Samantha Curtain and Samantha Piroska."

Last season the girls finished seventh (182 points) in the Division I, district 1 meet at Watkins Memorial as the top four of New Albany (34), Dublin Scioto (66), Pickerington North (70) and Hilliard Darby (118) advanced to regional.

Harlee Mollenkopf was 17th (20 minutes, 35.53 seconds), missing an individual regional qualifying berth by one place. Haller was hampered by a soccer injury and finished 25th (21:01.64). Sierra Mollenkopf (46th, 21:54.10), Sturgill (49th, 22:12.61), Binkley (50th, 22:13.31) and freshman Jessie Cremer (67th, 24:55.64) also competed.

The Pacers were fifth (130) in the OCC-Capital Division meet behind champion 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.

The boys team should be led by a strong senior corps, with Zach Flint expected to be the front-runner.

Kalebh McBrearty, Connor McCabe, Tommy Peterson and Justin Sistrunk are other key seniors.

Juniors Dante Schlabach and Thomas Oliver, who returns after missing a year, are expected to compete for positions, as are sophomores Adam Crosbie, John Homan and Jacob Rumbalski.

"We have a nice group of seniors who have been in the program for three or four years and we have the biggest group of underclassmen we've had since I've been here," Bibler said. "The seniors did a good job running captain practices last spring and they worked at getting their mileage up this summer."

Last season, the boys team finished eighth (205) in the Division I, district 2 meet as New Albany (42), Reynoldsburg (48), Hilliard Davidson (102), St. Charles (116) and Olentangy (145) advanced to regional.

Steve Swisher, a 2011 graduate, led the Pacers, finishing 26th in 17:07.85. Flint (35th, 17:26.69), Peterson (46th, 17:45.34), Sistrunk (48th, 18:04.56), McBrearty (50th, 18:10.29), Rumbalski (55th, 18:16.43) and 2011 graduate Zac Davis (56th, 18:18.40) also competed.

Delaware was sixth (139) in the OCC-Capital meet behind champion 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.

"You never know who will jump up and make a big impression from underclassmen, but I know Homan had a strong summer," Bibler said. "I would like to think that we will improve on our league finishes last season. Generally, I would like to see us be more competitive -- both the boys and girls teams."

First-year coach Josh Lee is trying to help the girls volleyball team bounce back from its first losing season in three years.

Lee replaced Doug Franz, who led the Pacers to 15-7 and 12-9 records in 2008 and 2009 before resigning last winter. Last year, the Pacers finished 8-15 overall and 5-9 in the OCC-Capital after losing seven of their final eight matches, including a 25-15, 21-25, 25-11, 25-18 decision to Hilliard Davidson in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

Lee spent the previous three seasons as New Albany's coach.

"I was happy coaching there, but this was an economical decision because New Albany didn't have any teaching positions available," Lee said. "I was hired at Hayes to be a health and physical education teacher, but when Doug Franz stepped down, they approached me about applying for the coaching position."

New Albany finished second in the OCC-Capital last season, going 11-3 under Lee. Big Walnut won the title at 14-0. Bradley (10-4), Orange (8-6) and Mount Vernon (6-8) also finished ahead of the Pacers. Watkins Memorial and Franklin Heights tied for last at 1-13.

Returnees include seniors Andie Moore and Keshawna Ximines and juniors Rachel Howser, Nicole Nelson and Sarah Scott. Moore will be the setter in Delaware's 5-1 offense.

Ximines (5-foot-9) and Scott (5-7) will be outside hitters. Howser (5-9) and Nelson (5-10) will be middle hitters and opposite hitters, as will junior Candice Rathburn (5-8) and sophomore Krysta Iwanek (5-10). Rounding out the eight-player roster is sophomore libero Jen Foreman.

"I believe in small varsity rosters, but will call up some j.v. players for certain matches," Lee said. "I have seen the disadvantage of keeping the best j.v. players on the varsity all the time because they don't get as much playing time that way. I believe the more repetitions the better."

Lee has been pleased with the work ethic of the players, but said a lot of work remains.

"They work really hard and are buying into the system," he said. "I've met no resistance because they all want to be successful, and they're a fiery group. But there are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out to reach the playing consistency that I would like. But we're working on it."