The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team got what coach Alisa Franklin called a "kick-start" to its season when it competed Sept. 14 at Hilliard Bradley against DeSales and the host Jaguars.
Although the Lions lost to DeSales 25-22, 25-21, they beat eventual OCC-Cardinal Division co-champion Bradley 25-19, 25-17 and proceeded to win their next four matches.
Gahanna, which is seeded 15th and beat 16th-seeded Thomas Worthington 22-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-18 on Oct. 17 in a second-round Division I district tournament match, gets a rematch with the third-seeded Jaguars on Thursday, Oct. 24, in a district semifinal at Whitehall.
The winner plays seventh-seeded Lancaster or ninth-seeded Hilliard Davidson for a district championship Saturday, Oct. 26, at Whitehall.
"This is very exciting for me being a senior," said middle hitter Aleese Butler, whose team is 15-9. "(Bradley was) a tough team and it was pretty evenly matched. We just have to play smart."
The district champion plays Dublin Coffman, Canal Winchester, Dublin Scioto or Olentangy in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Davidson. The regional final is Nov. 2 at the same site.
Gahanna, which was a district runner-up a year ago, opened the postseason with a 25-7, 25-17, 25-13 win over Olentangy Orange on Oct. 15.
"We've just been harping on discipline," Franklin said. "Aleese has been coming along, and I think it's a domino effect. Katy (Noel) and Kailyn (McComb) have been doing well in the back row and Amy (Bott) does well setting it up. Overall, it's a true team."
Hughes finishes season at state
Junior Emily Hughes' season ended with a 22nd-place finish in the Division I state girls golf tournament Oct. 18 and 19 on Ohio State's Gray Course.
Hughes, who also competed at state in 2011 when the Lions qualified as a team, shot 77 during the opening round before carding 83 in the final round.
"I had a rocky front nine, but I came back with a 39 on the back (during the final round)," Hughes said. "It's fun being here with just the whole atmosphere."
"She had a couple tough holes, but I thought she recovered nicely," coach Patty McQuirt said. "I think she's going to benefit from it greatly."
Football team preps for Panthers
Football coach John Snoad wasn't disappointed with his team's effort during a 34-14 loss to Grove City on Oct. 18, which dropped Gahanna's record to 3-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio.
What he hopes for Friday, Oct. 25, when the Lions play host to Pickerington North is that his young players in particular follow the lead of senior Boomer Lowe.
After Lowe began the season as a tight end and backup quarterback, the Lions tried him out at linebacker for a short time.
He since has found his niche at wide receiver. He had four catches for 44 yards and also proved to be a key blocker against Grove City, according to Snoad.
Junior running backs Vasean Davis and Jamil Jones and sophomore wide receiver Jake Chobany also have become key members of the offense.
Sophomore Mason Blancett, who is 2-2 since taking over at quarterback, passed for 189 yards and one touchdown against Grove City.
Pickerington North enters the matchup at 8-0 overall and leading the league at 5-0.
"I'm not hiding the fact that we're playing a lot of younger players," Snoad said. "We've got to keep battling. (North has) good athletes, but I expect us to give them a battle. Their quarterback is so dangerous.
"The reason we're starting to get more yards downfield is because our wide receivers are blocking better. Boomer Lowe has emerged. He's a testament to a kid being selfless."
Boys soccer team plays in district semifinal
The third-seeded boys soccer team played 14th-seeded Westerville South in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23, with the winner to play seventh-seeded Canal Winchester or 21st-seeded Olentangy in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Canal Winchester.
The district champion plays Dublin Coffman, Pickerington Central, Lancaster, Thomas or Westerville Central in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Westerville North. The regional final is Nov. 2 at Dublin Jerome.
Gahanna defeated 43rd-seeded Northland 4-0 in the second round Oct. 19 to improve to 11-1-5.
Boys, girls runners advance to regional
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in the Division I regional meets Saturday, Oct. 26, at Pickerington North. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to state Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
The girls squad scored 39 points to capture the district 2 championship Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial.
Junior Kelsey Sandlin finished second (18 minutes, 56.35 seconds), followed by freshman Ally Wharton (fourth, 19:25.99), sophomore Kelsey Thompson (fifth, 19:36.8), junior Rylee Tanner (seventh, 19:40.28) and sophomore Kearstin Turner (21st, 20:15.44).
The boys team placed fourth (122) in district 2 behind champion Jerome (23) as the top five teams advanced to regional.
Junior Keiffer Whiteman led with a 15th-place finish (16:54.97), followed by sophomore Aaron Schaller (19th, 17:00.44), junior Matt Ridinger (20th, 17:03.95), freshman Andrew Ray (28th, 17:15.98) and senior John Fife (40th, 17:39.41).
Season ends for girls soccer team
The 18th-seeded girls soccer team lost at 14th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 2-1 in overtime Oct. 17 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The Lions finished 5-10-2. Gahanna was shut out in each of its final five regular-season games before junior forward Jenna Holder scored against Kilbourne.
Three to return for boys golf team
Eligible to return for the OCC-Ohio runner-up boys golf team are three of its top five players, including sophomore Alex Vegh. He was a district qualifier as a freshman and led the team in stroke average (78.6) this fall.
In the sectional Oct. 1 at Granville Golf Course, the Lions shot 313 but settled for fourth behind champion Jerome (300) as the top three teams advanced.
Senior Aaron Byas shot 75 to advance to district, while Vegh shot 76 but lost in a one-hole playoff to Lancaster's Maxim Boone.
Also competing at sectional were senior Lucas Pottorf (89), junior Ryan Beachy (82) and sophomore Kyle Pottorf (80).
Byas then shot 90 in the district tournament Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Beachy and Vegh made second-team all-league and Byas was on the third team as Gahanna went 18-6 to finish behind Pickerington North (24-0).
"We were happy for Aaron Byas," coach Judy Ratzenberger said. "He scored very well in the sectionals with a great mindset. ... He really made progress this year.
"Alex Vegh played a great round at sectionals. ... He already is looking at the experience with an eye to his future."