The New Albany High School girls cross country team enjoyed a good season a year ago, and second-year coach Mary Grefka believes it can match those achievements.

The New Albany High School girls cross country team enjoyed a good season a year ago, and second-year coach Mary Grefka believes it can match those achievements.

Last season the Eagles were second in the OCC-Capital behind Olentangy Liberty, then were first in the Division II, district 2 meet, third in the regional and 15th at state.

They lost graduate Allison Eaton, and senior Molly Dengler opted not to return.

But five state participants are back in senior Ally Gray and juniors Annie Bowe, Molly Hamilton, Olivia Horvath and Maria Troutman.

"I think it's possible to match our outcome from last season," Grefka said. "We're going to be counting on some younger runners to step up this year and there's going to be more expectations placed on some of our sophomores. We have one freshman (Kathleen Mooney) who is running really well."

The Eagles opened Aug. 20 by taking second at the New Albany Classic with 70 points behind Canal Winchester (29). Bowe was the team's top runner and fourth overall (20 minutes, 57 seconds).

New Albany was sixth of 15 teams in the Panther Division at the Pickerington Classic at North last Saturday with 198 points behind first-place Colerain (58). Troutman led New Albany and was 22nd overall (21:13.55).

Grefka also expects contributions from seniors Audrey Anthony and Jacqueline Dennis, junior Madison Moon and sophomores Shelby Lackey and Suzanne Sliwowski.

New Albany will compete in the OCC-Capital this year with Big Walnut, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Mount Vernon, Olentangy Orange and Watkins Memorial.

"I think we're going to be competing for the OCC again," Grefka said. "One of our top goals is to win the OCC this year. We'd also like to win district again and make it back to the state meet."

Boys coach Chad Olinger expects a balanced attack. The Eagles turned in strong efforts at the New Albany Classic and Pickerington Classic, with different runners leading the Eagles each race.

Senior Corey Washington was the top runner at the New Albany Classic as he finished 25th (19:15). Washington was the fifth New Albany runner to cross the finish line at Pickerington and 61st overall (20:12.56).

Senior Tim Bradbury was the Eagles' third runner at New Albany (47th, 20:12) and Pickerington (37th, 19:23.35). Senior Zach Smith was 10th for New Albany at home (80th, 21:30) and second at Pickerington (35th, 19:17.15). Sophomore Alex Stanislav was second for the Eagles at home (32nd, 19:34) and first at Pickerington (29th, 19:03.42).

Sophomore Blake Taneff represented the Eagles at regional last season, but is recovering from a stress fracture in his back sustained during the track and field season. Olinger expects Taneff to return to the lineup by late September.

Olinger also expects contributions from senior Kevin Young, sophomores Parker Jones, Kyle Manion, Willie Matt and Nate Peck and freshmen Kraig Manion and Sebastian Matt.

"We graduated a big senior class, but we have 10 sophomores, which is a pretty solid class," Olinger said. "We have seven freshmen, and those two classes have a chance to be very talented. That's not to take anything away from the juniors or seniors. We have three very dedicated seniors. Three of our seniors are in our top five right now."

New Albany finished third at home with 145 points behind Fredericktown (34) and DeSales (103).

At Pickerington, the Eagles were fifth (184) in the Tiger Division behind first-place Magnolia Sandy Valley (55).

"One of our goals at the end of the year is to have a team varsity average of 17:30 time-wise," Olinger said. "We feel like with the realignment of the OCC we do have a realistic shot at the league championship. The OCC championship is a big goal of ours. Another big goal is to qualify for regional, so we've really been hitting home with those three goals with the kids and if we feel if we can obtain those three things we've made a big improvement and we have the program heading in the right direction."

At a glance

Coach: Boys -- Chad Olinger, second season; Girls -- Mary Grefka, second season

Next meet: Saturday at Westerville Classic at Westerville North

Key runners: Boys -- Tim Bradbury, Zach Smith, Alex Stanislav, Blake Taneff and Corey Washington; Girls -- Annie Bowe, Ally Gray, Molly Hamilton, Olivia Horvath and Maria Troutman