When Dublin Jerome High School boys cross country coach Dave Wadenstierna opted not to have his varsity runners compete in the Les Eisenhart Invitational on Oct. 5 at Thomas Worthington, the thinking was that the rest would help his team prepare for the OCC-Cardinal Division meet and the postseason.
That strategy has paid dividends for the Celtics so far, as they won their first league title since 2008.
Jerome scored 23 points in the OCC-Cardinal meet Oct. 12 at Hilliard Darby, to finish well ahead of runner-up Westerville North (66) as well as Darby (81), Westerville South (97), Hilliard Bradley (121), Scioto (141), Canal Winchester (164) and Westerville Central (242).
"After we gave our guys the previous weekend off, they were champing at the bit to get back out there to race," Wadenstierna said. "Then we had them watch the OCC-Central meet before we ran, and seeing the top guys from Olentangy Liberty and Hilliard Davidson run incredible races in that meet inspired our guys to run hard because they want to keep up with the best guys from our area. Everyone on our team really stepped up and ran well."
Jake Mandel won the league race in 15 minutes, 5.75 seconds and Mitchell Leitch was runner-up in 15:20.41. Also scoring were Chase Stewart (fourth, 15:23.09), Bradley Davis (fifth, 15:25.01) and Nick Schleter (11th, 16:09.91).
"All of our guys dropped at least 18 seconds off their best times and Nick Schleter ended up dropping a full minute off his best race," Wadenstierna said. "I'm really proud of our guys because this is the first OCC title that any of them have won."
The Celtics are preparing to compete in the Division I district meet Saturday, Oct. 19, at Watkins Memorial. They are in district 2, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Last year, Jerome scored 51 points to win the district 3 meet ahead of runner-up New Albany (53).
"We're definitely the favorite to defend our district title, but nothing's a given because Dublin Coffman will compete in our district to give us real good competition," Wadenstierna said. "It's just a matter of keeping our guys sharp and mentally focused at this point.
"(Last week) we were ranked second in the Division I state poll, which is the highest we've ever been ranked, and we want to keep doing well to cement our legacy because who knows when we'll be a position to have a season like this again."
The girls team finished fourth (89) in the league meet, behind Scioto (54), Bradley (72) and Westerville North (83) and ahead of Westerville Central (90), Canal Winchester (135), Darby (178) and Westerville South (195).
Carly Davis paced the Celtics, finishing second in 18:38.66. Also scoring were Tiffany Hill (11th, 19:51.48), Erin McAuliffe (13th, 19:59.15), Brittney Barberick (21st, 20:25.11) and Catey Midla (43rd, 21:29.97).
Jerome will be competing in the district 3 meet, from which the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional.
Scioto girls team wins league title
The Scioto girls team cruised to its sixth consecutive OCC-Cardinal title, finishing well ahead of runner-up Bradley.
Vanessa Robinson led the Irish, placing fourth in 19:07.96. Also scoring were Rebecca Groh (seventh, 19:28.61), Shayla Wigand (eighth, 19:35.66), Ariel Arellano (16th, 20:06.2) and Bruna Pinto (19th 20:10.45).
"We just set our school record for the most conference titles in a row for any Scioto sports team, which is kind of cool," coach Matt Suttle said. "We lost three of our top five scorers from last year's team, so it was fun to win it again with a new group of girls.
"Vanessa ran an exceptional race, getting her personal-best time. Our lone senior (Pinto) had a good race, too."
The Irish are preparing to compete in the district 2 meet after being runners-up in district 3 a year ago.
"Gahanna is one of the top two or three teams from our region and they're going to be in our district, so we'd like to hold onto the No. 2 spot behind them," Suttle said. "Olentangy Liberty and Westerville Central are solid teams that will be competing in our district, too, so it's going to be a competitive race."
The boys team finished sixth in the league meet, as Dylan Languis (14th, 16:17.57), Kenny Mayes (22nd, 16:44.09), Ahmad Abusharkh (28th, 16:55.27), Jesse Jordan (36th, 17:20.47) and Daniel Guzak (44th, 17:48.03) scored.
The Irish will be competing in the district 1 meet, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional.
Coffman boys team places third in league
The Coffman boys team finished third (58) in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 12 at Darby, behind Davidson (34) and Liberty (58) and ahead of Thomas (93), Marysville (154), Upper Arlington (167), Central Crossing (214) and Westland (215).
Zach Bons (third, 15:35.9) led the Shamrocks, as John Graf (fifth, 15:46.92), Steve Riley-Popovic (ninth, 15:52.43), Eric Anthony (19th, 16:26.15) and Tommy Alford (22nd, 16:28.89) also scored.
Next up for Coffman is the district 2 meet.
The girls team finished fifth (119) in the league meet, behind UA (39), Thomas (51), Davidson (59) and Liberty (88) and ahead of Westland (203), Marysville (210) and Central Crossing (228).
Sana Qamar (ninth, 19:11.22) was the Shamrocks' top finisher. Also scoring were Kelly Pan (26th, 20:09.37), Emily Lynch (28th, 20:16.2), Piper Hayward (29th, 20:19.05) and Saydi Mangelson (30th, 20:21.09).
Coffman will be competing in the district 3 meet.
Last year, the Shamrocks finished first in district 2 for their third consecutive district championship.