Luke Evans executed his plan to perfection.
The junior on the Grandview Heights High School boys cross country team started at a steady pace before accelerating and placing 13th (16 minutes, 10.92 seconds) in the Division III state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
The time was Evans' personal best and earned him all-state honors for the second consecutive season with a top-25 finish.
"This year, I didn't feel out of place," Evans said. "Coach (Brian Schoch) talked to me about a plan, and I stuck to it.
"I didn't go out too fast in the first mile and then started increasing my speed. A lot of runners go out strong and then they don't have much left for the end. I feel really good right now."
Evans said he was "somewhere around 40th" after the first mile. By the second mile, he was in the top 20.
"We expected Luke to be just behind the lead pack, which usually has about 40 runners," Schoch said. "He ran so well and I think being here last year helped him a lot. He knew what to expect and how to run the race."
Last season, Evans finished 21st at state in 16:26.78, his previous top performance.
"I love this course," he said. "How can I not love this course, because my two best times were here? The course really runs fast and there aren't a lot of hills. Despite all of the rain we had, it was only muddy in a couple of spots. The course was great."
Grandview competed in both the boys and girls races at state. The boys finished 15th (333) of 16 teams behind champion Attica Seneca East (101) and the girls were 14th (292) of 16 teams behind champion Liberty Center (101).
After Evans, senior Chase Gage (82nd, 17:16.38) was next for the Grandview boys, followed by junior Josh Smith (114th, 17:55.21), sophomore Peter Mathes (127th, 18:20.77), sophomore Eli Reed (128th, 18:22.49), sophomore Jon Faris (142nd, 20:32.38) and sophomore Owen McCormick (143rd, 21:02.82).
For the girls, sophomore Ali Lachey (46th, 19:40.24) led the Bobcats, followed by sophomore Madison Osborne (64th, 20:00.01), junior Halli Bair (94th, 20:49.6), sophomore Emma Hecker (97th, 20:59.32), freshman Emma Wheeler (120th, 21:46.16) and sophomore Emma Mihocik (141st, 24:34.58).
Girls soccer team exceeds expectations
The girls soccer team finished 15-3-2 overall, losing to top-seeded Ready 1-0 in a Division III district final Oct. 27 at Gahanna. It was the most wins in program history.
The second-seeded Bobcats defeated sixth-seeded Fairbanks 2-0 on Oct. 23 in a district semifinal. They opened tournament play Oct. 15 with a 10-0 victory over Heath before beating Tree of Life 2-0 on Oct. 17.
"This team exceeded all expectations," said coach Mike Merna, who completed his ninth season. "We scored the most goals we ever have (82) and allowed the fewest (5).
"It was a disappointing loss (in the district final), but everyone ends the season with a loss unless you win a state title. The chemistry on this team was great and they were a fun group to work with."
The Bobcats finished third (6-1-2) in the MSL-Cardi-nal/Ohio Division behind Granville (8-0-1) and Bexley (7-0-2) and ahead of Columbus Academy (6-2-1), Fisher Catholic (5-4), Liberty Union (3-5-1), Lakewood (2-6-1), Licking Valley (1-7-1), West Jefferson (1-7-1) and Heath (1-8).
The Bobcats had 16 shutouts behind a defense led by seniors Cristina Pinney, Lindsey Smith (5 goals) and Taylor Woodhouse (4 assists), sophomore Grace Palmer and senior goalkeeper Abby Riggs (61 saves). Pinney was first-team all-district and all-league, and Riggs and Smith were second-team all-district and first-team all-league. Palmer was second-team all-league.
"We will be looking for defenders, losing three of our four," Merna said.
Other seniors were Mia Bell (forward; 5 goals), Anna Davis (forward; 8 goals), Lauren Jones (midfielder; 5 goals) and Julie Menke (midfielder; 8 goals, 6 assists).
"Our seniors were a huge part of our success," Merna said. "They were hard working and didn't let their egos get in the way of the team's success.
"We had four seniors who were four-year letterwinners in Cristina Pinney, Abby Riggs, Lindsey Smith and Taylor Woodhouse. They all meant so much to everything that we did."
Grandview expects to return its leading scorer in sophomore forward Morgan Ettrich, who had 10 goals. Freshman forward Kira Thomas had seven goals and six assists, and sophomore midfielder Haley Rees had seven goals.
Sophomore midfielder Emily Burns had six goals and four assists, and junior midfielder Laura Satterthwaite scored six times. Sophomore midfielder Megan McCauley had six assists.
Others expected to return are sophomores Lily Amurgis (defender), Katie Flanagan (midfielder), Alexia Lower (defender), Gabby Romero-Rose (midfielder) and Jessica Umbarger (forward) and freshmen Izzy Esber (goalie) and Maria Murphy (midfielder).
"Honestly, we have a lot of talent coming back," Merna said. "The way that we rotated players throughout the season, you could argue that we have eight starters coming back."
Boys soccer team falls in district final
The boys soccer team finished 15-2-2 overall, losing to second-seeded Academy 2-1 in a Division III district final Oct. 27 at Westerville South.
The third-seeded Bobcats defeated ninth-seeded West Jefferson 1-0 on Oct. 24 in a district semifinal. They had a first-round bye before defeating Horizon Science 2-0 on Oct. 20 in the second round.
"I thought we had an outstanding year," said coach Brian Neidenthal, who completed his 11th season. "The kids played well, exceeded expectations and gave us a chance to win a district championship."
Grandview won its 13th consecutive title in the MSL-Cardinal, going 5-0 to finish ahead of Licking Heights (3-1-1), West Jefferson (2-1-2), Fisher Catholic (2-2-1), Liberty Union (1-4) and Harvest Prep (0-5).
Senior goalkeeper Ben Farynowski was MSL-Cardinal Player of the Year and Neidenthal was the Coach of the Year. Senior midfielders Ben Brannan (10 goals) and Zach Clemens (5 goals) received first-team honors. Brannan and Farynowski also were first-team all-district.
Other seniors included defenders Joe Treasure (6 goals) and Jacob Wolfe and forward Josef Palenius (11 goals), an exchange student from Sweden.
"The seniors did what a good senior class is supposed to do," Neidenthal said. "They were able to work our team into a high-quality, possession-type of team."
The Bobcats had 15 shutouts and allowed only seven goals.
Expected to return are juniors Jake Bottorf (defender), Zach Brannan (defender), Sam Claypool (midfielder; team-high 12 goals), Pat McHugh (defender; 3 goals) and Alex York (midfielder) and sophomores Ike Dunaway (midfielder; 5 goals), Alec Gastesi (defender), Alex Haase (midfielder), Avery Hanscel (defender), Colin Jourdan (forward; 9 goals) and Ryan McHugh (forward; 7 goals).
"I think the team next year will resemble the team that we had this year," Neidenthal said. "We will need to develop a new goalie in the offseason, but we should have a pretty good team because we rotated about 15 guys in a lot of the time this season."
Volleyball team ties for fifth in league
The girls volleyball team finished 6-12 overall, losing to host North Union 23-25, 10-25, 25-17, 25-18, 15-7 on Oct. 17 in the opening round of the Division III district tournament.
The Bobcats tied Fisher Catholic for fifth (5-9) in the MSL-Cardinal behind Licking Heights (14-0), Harvest Prep (12-2), Liberty Union (10-4) and West Jefferson (8-6) and ahead of Berne Union (2-12) and Millersport (0-14).
Senior Maureen Flanagan (setter/outside hitter) was first-team all-league. Junior Grace VanFossen (back row) was second-team all-league and freshman Libby Jump (setter/outside hitter) was honorable mention all-league.
"Maureen meant a ton, especially because she was with me as my starting setter from my first year at Grandview," said coach Karla Fairbanks, who completed her fourth season. "(Senior middle hitter) Courtney Collier also became a big part of our offense, especially when she was on top of her game."
Expected back are juniors Maddie Bills (right-side hitter/middle hitter), Natalie Ferris (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and VanFossen, sophomores Emma Bulla (back row), Mary Guida (middle hitter), Hannah Kerr (middle hitter), Morgan Taylor (setter) and Allison Voelker (middle hitter) and freshmen Jump and Mary Emma MacLeod (right-side hitter/middle hitter).
"We expect to return players who are athletic. ... Our defense and passing should be solid next year," Fairbanks said. "We need to improve on our offensive game and our blocking. We need a few hitters that can really put the ball away."