Led by junior standout Blake Taneff, the New Albany High School boys cross country team looks to continue its season at the Division I regional meet on Saturday at Pickerington North.

Led by junior standout Blake Taneff, the New Albany High School boys cross country team looks to continue its season at the Division I regional meet on Saturday at Pickerington North.

The top four teams and individuals not from a qualifying team who finish in the top 16 advance to the state meet on Nov. 7 at Scioto Downs.

The Eagles, in their third season at the Division I level, edged Reynoldsburg 67-69 for the Division I district 3 title last Saturday at Watkins Memorial.

It was the Eagles' first Division I district championship.

"This means the world to the program," New Albany boys coach Chad Olinger said. "All the hard work and hours that these boys have put in pays off. It really sets us up for future success. The nice thing about winning this district title is obviously we get to run (Saturday) to try to go to state, but we have every one of our 12 varsity kids coming back. Every kid who ran (last Saturday) will be returning next year. It was a big day. It was a nice achievement."

Taneff, who cruised to the OCC-Capital Division title on Oct. 17, turned in another dominating performance in winning the district meet in 16 minutes, 40.10 seconds.

Hilliard Davidson's Kenta Shimizu was second in 16:53.82.

"Blake had a good race," Olinger said. "It was muddy conditions, cold. It was definitely conditions that make it tough to run, but he went out and did it by himself again, so it was a nice race for him."

"This has been pretty fun," said Taneff, whose team also won the OCC-Capital race on Oct. 17. "It's always fun when you win a race, but (Saturday) is really going to be the place to be. That's where all the competition from central Ohio is going to be. (Saturday) is probably going to be the second toughest race in Ohio."

The Eagles' strong effort was evident. Their top five runners finished in the top 24.

Sophomore Sebastian Matt was sixth (17:23.82), followed by freshman Austin Bach (13th, 17:40.04), junior Tom Newton (23rd, 18:05.31) and freshman Drew Rose (24th, 18:05.78).

New Albany did not qualify a runner for last season's regional meet.

"The team really put the work in over the summer," Olinger said. "We put some goals into place in the spring in track and they really worked hard in the summer. We've been able to institute some training this year that we have not been able to institute in the past simply because the boys are stronger because of the miles that they have logged over the summer."

The Eagles hope to be in the mix for top honors on Saturday, as perennial powers Dublin Coffman and host North are predicted to be the teams to beat.

"Dublin Coffman and Pickerington North have been the heavy hitters all season. They'll continue to be so," Olinger said. "I feel like those two, unless they really flub up, are going to get to state. That leaves two more positions open. I think we're players in there. We could be a factor."

•The girls team also had a strong showing at the district meet, finishing fifth (125) in the Division I race at Watkins.

New Albany missed qualifying as a team by one spot, as Marietta was fourth (112).

After competing at the Division II level, the Eagles are competing at the Division I level for the first time.

New Albany did advance two runners to Saturday's regional meet, freshman Mirra Galbreath (sixth, 20:19.10) and senior Maria Troutman (15th, 21:05.88).

"Already as a freshman, Mirra is a pretty strong leader," coach Mary Grefka said. "She definitely leads by example, but is also the type of person who is there to support her teammates. Maria Troutman and Mirra probably took it just as hard as any girl out there that the team wasn't going to regional. They worry first and foremost about the team."

Grefka feels both girls have a chance to qualify for the state meet. As a sophomore, Troutman helped guide the Eagles to a Division II state team berth in 2007.

"They have to race hard and get out," Grefka said. "They have to get into the lead with that top pack in the first mile."

Rounding out the Eagles' scoring at district were seniors Annie Bowe (29th, 21:52.53) and Madison Moon (32nd, 22:07.88), and freshman Elizabeth Hamilton (43rd, 22:43.40).

At a glance

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

BOYS

Last Saturday -- Finished first at the Division I district 3 race at Watkins Memorial with 67 points, ahead of Reynoldsburg (69), Olentangy Liberty (76), Hilliard Davidson (114) and Hilliard Bradley (118)

Saturday -- At Division I regional meet at Pickerington North. The top four teams and 16 individuals advance to the state meet.

GIRLS

Last Saturday -- Placed fifth at the Division I district 3 race at Watkins with 125 points, finishing behind Canal Winchester (59), Watkins (65), Mount Vernon (72) and Marietta (112)

Saturday -- Senior Maria Troutman and freshman Mirra Galbreath will compete in the Division I regional meet at North. The top 16 individuals will qualify for the state meet.