Nathan Wigal worked his way through the mud and puddles at Watkins Memorial to advance to the Division II regional cross country meet Oct. 27 at Troy.
At regional, the top 16 individuals advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
The only runner competing for the Northridge High School boys team in the district 2 race Oct. 20, the senior finished 16th (18 minutes, 32.34 seconds) to secure the final qualifying spot for regional. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced.
"Nathan did very well and it was a pleasant surprise (that he advanced to regional)," coach Gene Weil said. "I don't think that he expected to finish that high, but he finished 16th, and it was a strong 16th. He was a good distance from the 17th runner and was close to being 15th."
Wigal was three seconds behind the 15th-place runner, Sparta Highland's Josh Irvin (18:29.02). He was nearly five seconds ahead of Highland's Devin Johnson, who was 17th in 18:37.24.
"Nathan is not the fastest sprinter, but he is a strong runner," Weil said. "I told him (before the race) that the mud would take the sprinters out. There are some runners who normally sprint hard for the last 200 meters. That wasn't going to happen (on a muddy course).
"I told him to stay close to the leaders and then about the (3-kilometer) mark, start his long sprint. He just needed to make a steady increase in his pace and it worked out for him. He's a smart kid who listens to coaching."
Since Wigal was the lone runner for the Vikings, they did not score in the eight-team race. Teams qualifying for regional were Watterson (51), Buckeye Valley (58), Highland (68) and Heath (82).
The Northridge girls did not have enough runners for a score in their 14-team district race as the top four squads and top 16 individuals qualified for regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. Advancing were Granville (41), Bexley (109), Caledonia River Valley (115) and London (147).
Junior Kaitlin Garee (94th, 26:12.39) led the Vikings, followed by freshman Jillian Choberka (106th, 29:27.77), junior Vivian Carney (108th, 30:00.75) and junior Jana Choberka (112th, 21:07.37).
Layoff didn't slow soccer team
After not playing last year, the boys soccer team returned this season to finish 9-4, losing to Gahanna Christian 2-1 on Oct. 17 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
The Vikings, who did not play in a league, will join the Licking Country League next fall.
Northridge had four seniors in midfielder Sean Higgins, goalkeeper Alex Shedloski, defender Tony Shore and forward Hayden Warner. Shedloski, who was second-team all-district, had 106 saves with one shutout and an .841 save percentage. Warner led the team in scoring with 15 goals and six assists. Higgins had two goals.
"We had two really good seniors," said coach Leonard Moffatt, who completed his first season. "Alex is a super, super goalie and he did a great, marvelous job for us. Hayden was great all of the time as a scorer for us."
Expected to return are juniors Alex Arnold (defender), Parker Fox (forward; 8 goals, 4 assists), Connor Johnson (forward; 3 goals, 2 assists), Kaitlin Piper (defender) and Michael Travis (forward), sophomores Bryce Curtis (midfielder/goalie), Emily Dalton (defender/goalie), Jack Roudebush (midfielder; 1 goal, 2 assists), Regan Turner (midfielder), Trevor White (midfielder) and Connor Wood (midfielder) and freshmen Noah Anderson (forward), Ashley Dean (defender), Daniel Neff (defender), Robi Patrick (midfielder; 2 goals), Hugh Prentice (defender), Kyle Stermer (defender), Noah Tornes (midfielder) and Jordan Wolfe (defender/goalie).
"Next year, we want to make sure that we have a j.v. team," Moffatt said. "We want to try to get them participating with club teams and we want to have some camps to help them improve their skills."
Football team falls to Redbirds
The football team was 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the MBC before playing Johnstown-Monroe in the season finale Oct. 26.
The Vikings lost to Loudon-ville 34-0 on Oct. 19. They were shut out for the fourth consecutive week after snapping a 23-game MBC losing streak with a 33-26 win over Utica on Sept. 21.
Northridge had only 45 total yards against the Redbirds.
Jacob Burke had 17 yards rushing on 10 carries and Bryant Garee was 4-for-11 passing for 24 yards with an interception. Gavin Kyle had 10 tackles, three solo.
Volleyball team ousted by Heath
The girls volleyball team finished 3-17 overall, losing at sixth-seeded Heath 25-18, 25-15, 25-19 on Oct. 20 in the second round of the Division III district tournament. Both teams had a first-round bye.
The Vikings finished seventh (3-11) in the MBC behind Centerburg (14-0), Utica (12-2), Fredericktown (10-4), Loudonville (8-6), Danville (4-10) and East Knox (4-10) and ahead of Johnstown (1-13).