With three individual qualifiers, Licking Heights High School cross country coach Sue Ketcham was as busy as she's ever been preparing for last Saturday's Division II girls and boys regional meets.

With three individual qualifiers, Licking Heights High School cross country coach Sue Ketcham was as busy as she's ever been preparing for last Saturday's Division II girls and boys regional meets.

Junior Catie Campbell earned another regional berth as expected, but sophomore Mohamed Fatah and freshman Kory Kenny also advanced with solid efforts during the district meet Oct. 24 at Watkins Memorial. Fatah finally overtook Kenny, who has been slowed by a knee injury, to lead the boys team and finish ninth overall (18 minutes, 26 seconds) in the Section 1 race. Kenny was 16th (18:43) to grab the last qualifying spot. Campbell placed eighth (21:22) in the Section 1 girls race.

The best thing, Ketcham said, is that this year's success might be a sign of even better things to come.

"Mo and Kenny are soccer kids and now all the soccer boys say they want to join in," Ketcham said, laughing. "After seeing what they did, I guess now they're all more interested than ever."

The Hornets enjoyed other firsts at Watkins Memorial as well.

"We've never put seven girls on the starting line before, and we ran the closest pack we've ever had, too," Ketcham said. "We've got a couple of eighth-grade girls coming up who are really going to help, and we're only losing one runner (Brian Carey) from either team We're going to be in great shape next year."

Efforts such as those were commonplace at Watkins Memorial, where heavy rains the day before the district meets made the going tough on race day.

Utica senior Tyler Van Sickle (sixth, 18:16) and Heath junior Chris Monroe (seventh, 18:20) also qualified for the regional out of the Section 1 boys meet, with both earning first-team all-district honors. Monroe has been battling a deep foot bruise and he also had trouble with shin splints a year ago.

"He's very deserving of a spot at the regional because nobody works harder than Chris does," Bulldogs' coach Scott Brown said of Monroe. "So often you see kids who think it's all about talent, but Chris proves that wrong. He was just mediocre at the middle school, but he kept working hard once he got here and just made himself a better runner."

Granville outscored Caledonia River Valley 37-86 to capture the boys team championship in Section 1, and Lakewood's Brendan Walburn also earned first-team all-district honors as he finished sixth (18:10) in the Section 2 meet to advance along with Johnstown's James Platt (seventh, 18:15).

"Brendan ran very well at Watkins earlier this year (in the McGowan Invitational) and to me that indicated he had a good chance at getting out to the regional," Lancers' coach Dan Sekerak said. "He's a double-duty kid because he plays soccer, too, so he's not always at our workouts. He just buckled down and pushed through the mud (at Watkins) when he had to."

Granville also captured the Section 1 girls team championship by outscoring runner-up Bexley 22-72. Licking Valley junior Ashley Smith advanced by placing ninth (21:42). Heath junior Emily McCall made first-team all-district by finishing fourth (21:05) in the Section 2 race.

"Ashley's always been a slow starter, but she really showed steady improvement all year again," Panthers' coach Don Mealick said. "She's got a lot on her plate every year with band, the (Hartford) Fair and everything."

Johnstown outscored Liberty Union 34-72 to win the Division III, Section 2 girls team title, and Newark Catholic's Nicole Scarsella (14th, 21:54) also advanced.

In Division I, the Watkins Memorial girls team qualified for the regional out of Section 3 while Newark's Samantha Smith (seventh, 20:46) advanced in Section 2. The Watkins boys team qualified out of Section 1.