The New Albany High School cross country teams hope a change in their schedule will pay dividends later this season.

The New Albany High School cross country teams hope a change in their schedule will pay dividends later this season.

The Eagles have competed in the Bob Reall Invitational in Lancaster in the past, but they dropped that meet from their schedule and replaced it with Pickerington Central's Tiger Invitational, which takes place Saturday.

"We've changed our schedule up a little bit this year to give us some new meets," boys coach Chad Olinger said. "This will be our first time going (to the Tiger Invitational), but I know there will be some heavy hitters there. You will have Hilliard Davidson, you will have Reynoldsburg there, Pickerington North. Those are typically the top three teams in central Ohio year in and year out, so it will be another good test."

Davidson won the Tiger Invitational last season with 24 points, with Gahanna (62), Central Crossing (83) and Pickerington Central (98) rounding out the top four. Kings Mills Kings (25) won the girls' title, with Beavercreek (77), Pickerington Central (79) and Pickerington North (91) rounding out the top four.

"This will be our first time there, so we're not too sure what to expect," girls coach Mary Grefka said. "I know Pickerington is very competitive and they usually have good teams. They usually compete against good teams, so it should be a good meet."

The girls team placed third (120) of 13 teams in the big-school race at the Central Ohio Invitational last Saturday behind Dublin Scioto (23) and Davidson (92). Rounding out the top five were Olentangy Orange (123) and Westerville Central (128).

Freshman Mirra Galbreath placed fourth in 19 minutes, 39.43 seconds to lead the Eagles.

Maria Troutman placed sixth (20:13.46), followed by Annie Bowe (29th, 21:21.99), Juli Sasaki (39th, 21:46.90) and Madison Moon (45th, 22:06.02).

"I'm very happy," Grefka said. "We're ahead of where we were last year at this point as far as how the team is running as a whole.

"We're getting better each week. Our workouts are getting better, so they just need to continue to have great workouts and the times will get faster. The times have been getting faster pretty much each week."

The boys team placed fifth (99) of 11 teams in the big-school race at the Central Ohio Invitational behind Westerville Central (62), Westerville South (82), Westerville North (84) and Whetstone (97).

"I was very pleased with our performance," Olinger said. "At one point, we thought we were in the mix to win it during the race. Second through fifth place was spread out by just 17 points. That's like losing a football game by a point. You don't want to be happy with fifth place, but I was very pleased."

Junior Blake Taneff led the Eagles, placing fifth (16:08.4).

"This is probably the best cross country team we've had in probably over a decade," Taneff said. "The program is definitely taking a step up."

Sebastian Matt was 17th (17:03.49), followed by Alex Stanislav (24th, 17:27.58), Austin Bach (26th, 17:30.78), Kraig Manion (27th, 17:31.46), Kyle Manion (28th, 17:35.62) and Tom Newton (34th, 17:51.02).

"We're competing more so than we've ever competed before," Olinger said.

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the New Albany boys and girls cross country teams:

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished fifth (99) at the Central Ohio Invitational behind champion Westerville Central (62); Girls: Finished third (120) at the Central Ohio Invitational behind champion Dublin Scioto (23)

Saturday -- At Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central