Dublin Scioto High School girls cross country coach Matt Suttle believes his team is capable of winning a sixth consecutive league title and returning to the Division I state meet this season.
Whether that happens depends on the runners, particularly those who are being counted on to take on a bigger role this fall.
"We have a lot of talented runners coming back, but how will they handle the transition from being role players to becoming leaders this year?" Suttle said. "We have a lot of young girls who don't have a lot of varsity experience, and we'll need some of them to step up and lead our team this season. That's an important role that needs to be filled."
Scioto returns four of its top seven runners from a year ago in juniors Ariel Arellano, Rebecca Groh, Vanessa Robinson and Shayla Wigand.
Others vying to be in the team's top seven include seniors Warda Aden and Bruna Pinto, junior Emily Trzeciak and sophomore Kayla Rowand.
The Irish opened Aug. 24 by placing fourth (107 points) in the 15-team Finishtiming Classic at Wilmington College behind champion Mason (35).
Scoring were Robinson (14th, 20 minutes, 18.18 seconds), Groh (18th, 20:44.95), Arellano (26th, 21:09.76), Pinto (37th, 21:35.7) and Trzeciak (38th, 21:43.21).
"Ariel went from being at the bottom of our junior varsity team her freshman year to being one of our top runners this year," Suttle said. "Bruna and Warda have improved quite a bit, too."
Last year, Scioto won (40) the OCC-Cardinal Division title, finishing well ahead of runner-up Jerome (66). In the postseason, the Irish placed second (61) in the 10-team district 3 meet behind Upper Arlington (49), fourth (129) in the 16-team regional meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (50) and 16th (333) in the 16-team state meet behind champion Mason (42).
"We should be one of the favorites to win our league again," Suttle said. "But Westerville North and Westerville Central should be solid, and Hilliard Bradley and Canal Winchester could post a threat. Beyond that, we want to make it back to the state meet, which will be a challenge because Upper Arlington, Coffman and Davidson all look real good."
Shamrocks return four state runners
Coffman returns four of its seven runners who competed in the Division I state meet last season in seniors Julia Fries (99th, 19:46.44) and Emily Lynch (112th, 19:55.7), junior Anna Weber (140th, 20:40.33) and sophomore Sana Qamar (63rd, 19:08.39).
Rachel Bosworth, who led the Shamrocks at state last fall, placing 12th (18:16.58) of 150 runners to earn all-state honors for a third consecutive year, did not return for her senior season.
"Our numbers dropped from 80 to 65 girls and we don't have as much depth as we've had most years," coach Jim Ferguson said. "Right now, we're working on getting people healthy. Julia Fries missed last track season because of knee surgery and didn't begin running again until late summer. Anna Weber and Sana Qamar also have been dealing with shin splints."
Others vying for a spot in the top seven include senior Jessie Kinzeler, juniors Kaylen Chang, Piper Hayward, Saydi Mangelson and Shannon Phillips
Coffman opened Aug. 24 by finishing third (81) in the seven-team Panther Division of the Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North behind Olentangy Liberty (64) and Westerville North (71).
Scoring were Mangelson (seventh, 21:09.8), Chang (12th, 21:40.3), Hayward (13th, 21:46.5), Lynch (22nd, 22:06.1) and Phillips (27th, 22:19.6).
Coffman is looking to defend its OCC-Central title and make it back to state.
Last year, the Shamrocks won (43) the league title ahead of runners-up Davidson (51) and Upper Arlington (51), won (31) the 15-team district 2 meet at Watkins Memorial ahead of runner-up Hilliard Bradley (86), placed third (115) at regional and finished sixth (201) at state.
The district title was their third in a row.
"I want everyone running faster over the course of the season so we can make it back to state for a fourth year in a row," Ferguson said. "As usual, our division of the OCC is the toughest in the area. Hilliard Davidson is always good and Upper Arlington has just about everyone back, so we'll need to run a great team race to win the OCC again."
Celtics return five regional runners
Jerome returns five of its seven runners who competed in the Division I regional meet last season in seniors Brittney Berberick (57th, 20:46.02) and Erin McAuliffe (95th, 21:35.3), juniors Maggie Arnold (68th, 21:00.82) and Catey Midla (100th, 21:44.17) and sophomore Carly Davis (20th, 19:37).
Last season, the Celtics placed second in the OCC-Cardinal, third (73) in the district 3 meet and ninth (234) at regional.
Jerome opened Aug. 24 by placing third (85) in the 11-team Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club Invitational behind Upper Arlington (33) and Gahanna (64).
Scoring were Davis (third, 19:44.6), sophomore Tiffany Hill (13th, 21:05.8), Berberick (14th, 21:11.8), McAuliffe (19th, 21:25.4) and freshman Hailey Bertison (36th, 22:19).