Central Crossing boys team looking to improve
Central Crossing High School cross country coach Doug Boggs knows it will be difficult for his boys team to return to the Division I regional meet.
The Comets have returned just one runner who competed in last season's regional at Pickerington North in junior Isse Roble, who finished 93rd in 18 minutes, 22.53 seconds. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to state at National Trail Raceway, and Central Crossing was 14th (312) behind qualifiers Olentangy Liberty (91), Dublin Coffman (100), Hilliard Davidson (115) and Westerville North (153).
Roble turned in a career-best 17:46 on Aug. 29 while finishing 18th in the 18-team Canal Winchester Invitational. The Comets were 13th (349) behind champion Bexley (79).
Roble was first (19:12) in the South-Western Warm-Up Meet on Aug. 24 at Grove City.
He competed at regional last year with 2012 graduates Donovan Wonacott, Will Doering, Kyle Dyer and Stanley Gates.
"This year, we're probably not a regional-qualifying team," said Boggs, who is in his third season. "We have Isse up there who has an outside shot of making regional on his own. The rest of the team is kind of young and we're looking for improvement."
Senior Zane Aleman returns and is contending for the second spot. Junior Robert Pessel and sophomore Cody Calafatis also return.
Senior Tyler Tope and junior Troy Lare are new to the team, which also includes freshmen Kiernan Kujawa and Brandon Marcum.
Last season, Central Crossing was third (92) in the district 1 meet behind Davidson (42) and Dublin Jerome (58), with Reynoldsburg (101) and Pickerington Central (124) also advancing to regional.
The Comets were third (70) in the OCC-Central Division meet behind Coffman (31) and Davidson (38) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (115), Thomas Worthington (135), Upper Arlington (166) and Worthington Kilbourne (173).
Darby and Kilbourne have moved to the OCC-Cardinal and Liberty and Marysville now are in the OCC-Central.
Senior Molly Lalonde is expected to lead the girls team.
She was first (22:12) in the South-Western Warm-Up Meet and had a career-best 21:13 in finishing 22nd in the 17-team Canal Winchester Invitational, as the Comets were 13th (302) behind champion Chillicothe Zane Trace (47).
"There's really no one coming up behind Isse or Molly at this point," Boggs said. "They're ahead of the pack and then we have a pack of kids that are working at the same level right now. We're just waiting to see who's going to really come out ahead on the rest of them."
Also back for the girls are senior Caitlyn Ritter and sophomore Jessica Stanley. Senior Sierra Nollette and sophomores Noelle Brown and Kristina Myers are new to the team.
Last season, the Comets' season ended in the district 3 meet, where they were 13th (397) behind regional-qualifiers Davidson (43), UA (56), New Albany (77), Pickerington North (114), Jerome (128) and Delaware (174).
Lalonde was 67th (22:58.98).
The Comets were seventh (218) in the OCC-Central meet behind Coffman (38), Davidson (48), UA (60), Thomas (101), Darby (121) and Kilbourne (179).
New coach leading Grove City runners
Grove City has a new coach as Donny Thompson has replaced Drew Eschbach, who resigned after six seasons.
"I'm a runner myself and I love to exercise, so I do everything with the kids," said Thompson, who has been an assistant with the track and field program the past two seasons. "Whatever the program is for the day in running, I do it with them."
Junior Josh Schaffer has been the boys team's top runner in the early season. He was 41st (18:42) in the Canal Winchester Invitational, as the Greyhounds placed 10th (257).
Senior Drew Artrip, a first-year runner, was 51st (18:53) at Canal Winchester.
"Josh and Drew are both baseball players," Thompson said. "I have two star baseball players that are becoming star cross country runners. It's kind of neat."
In the OHSAA Preseason Invitational on Aug. 18 at National Trail Raceway, Grove City was 24th (690) behind champion Davidson (59). In the New Albany Classic on Aug. 22, the Greyhounds were 11th (287) behind champion New Albany (24).
Thompson said other runners contending for the top seven spots are senior Logan Friend, juniors Brendan Mountain and Vihn Peters, sophomore Alex Meister and freshmen Adam Glass and Troy Hendrickson.
Other runners are seniors Jack Bailey, Chris Bennett, Chase Hartman and Matt Torsell, junior Davis Rohr, sophomores Alex Winkler and Louis Van Staden and freshmen Alex Caskey, Austin Huff and Mason Sturm.
"My first six kids on the boys side is a mixture every meet as far as what place they're coming in," Thompson said.
Last season, the Greyhounds finished 13th (367) in the district 3 meet behind regional-qualifiers Coffman (58), Liberty (61), Westerville North (118), Watkins Memorial (136) and Lancaster (141).
Schaffer was 68th (18:50.76).
Grove City finished seventh (187) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind Pickerington North (58), Reynoldsburg (64), Lancaster (71), Newark (105), Gahanna (109) and Pickerington Central (113) and ahead of Groveport (208).
Thompson said the girls team lacks depth, but junior Ann Winkler has been the leader so far.
She was 14th (20:40) in the Canal Winchester Invitational as the Greyhounds finished ninth (269). Freshman Michaela Mountain was 57th (23:20) and sophomore Kim Peters was 73rd (23:54)
Thompson said junior Ashley Artrip should be another key runner.
Other runners are junior Alexis Ewing, sophomore Destiny Camp and freshman Alisha Crawford.
In the OHSAA Preseason Invitational on Aug. 18 at National Trail Raceway, Grove City was 23rd (659) behind champion Mason (64). In the New Albany Classic on Aug. 22, the Greyhounds were 10th (230) behind champion UA (38).
Last season, Grove City didn't have enough runners for a team score in the district 1 meet won by Coffman (41). Winkler was 28th (21:38.2), Peters was 53rd (23:42.41) and senior Michaela Freeman was 70th (26.45).
The Greyhounds were sixth (173) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind Gahanna (49), Pickerington North (51), Lancaster (92), Pickerington Central (98) and Reynoldsburg (150) and ahead of Newark (225) and Groveport (247).
"I've seen a drastic improvement in time, so my focus up to this point has been just improving their form, getting stronger and getting some miles in," Thompson said.