Dennis Maloney of the New Albany High School boys cross country team didn't mince words discussing how the Division I state meet progressed Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
"It was really fast for the whole race," said Maloney, a sophomore. "Normally when you start out, it's fast at the very beginning then it spaces out. There were tons of people around me for the whole race. It was intimidating."
Maloney's 65th-place time of 16 minutes, 16.69 seconds was his fastest of the postseason by seven seconds and 20 seconds faster than Oct. 27 in the regional at Pickerington North, where he was 25th in 16:36.94. But it didn't get him as far as he hoped on a cool, sunny day as 37 runners broke 16 minutes on a course that didn't seem adversely affected by rain much of the previous five days.
The Eagles placed 15th of 16 teams with 324 points, behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (71).
"This thing ran like a racetrack. It was like track on grass," coach Chad Olinger said.
Senior Austin Bach was 71st (16:22.21) for the Eagles, followed by sophomore Zack Buck (85th, 16:37.04), seniors Joydeep Ganguly (121st, 16:50.54), David Stanislav (130th, 17:00.11) and Nathan Lackey (142nd, 17:23.98) and sophomore Brian Krugh (145th, 17:35).
"We have an amazing senior class that really achieved some goals they had set forth. Then we have this sophomore class. It's exciting to know we have them for two more years," Olinger said. "With Zack up front, we expect him to be a low stick next year with Dennis to take another jump and be 15:30 or 16-flat-type runners."
Other seniors were C.J. Stringer and Rhyne Vlaservich.
New Albany won five races this year, including the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 13 at Lancaster, in which it scored 32 points to finish ahead of Olentangy (56), Olentangy Orange (91), Watkins Memorial (115), Delaware (144), Mount Vernon (145) and Big Walnut (151).
The Eagles fell two points short of their fourth consecutive district championship, earning 53 points in the 18-team district 3 race Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial to finish behind champion Dublin Scioto (51) as the top six teams advanced to regional. There, New Albany claimed the last of four state berths, scoring 114 points behind champion Westerville North (79), Hilliard Davidson (88) and Olentangy Liberty (108).
Suarez places 50th at state
Sophomore Camilla Suarez of the girls cross country team improved her standing in the state meet by 53 places and shaved more than a minute off her time from her freshman year, finishing 50th (19:00.79) in Division I.
Suarez was 103rd (20:07.97) at state last year.
"I tried to be more aggressive than last year. I felt a lot more confident in my training and that allowed me to better myself as a runner," she said. "I felt much stronger. I started off too fast (last year) and this year I started fast, but my training and strength were much better in comparison."
Suarez qualified for state by finishing 11th (19:17.04) at regional as the top 16 individuals advanced. The Eagles scored 179 points and were fifth, one spot from a state berth, behind champion Davidson (50).
New Albany scored 33 points to win the OCC-Capital meet ahead of Orange (65), Olentangy (82), Watkins Memorial (84), Big Walnut (127), Delaware (140) and Mount Vernon (155). In the 14-team district 1 meet, the Eagles were second (84) behind Davidson (35) as the top five teams advanced.
The Eagles lose seniors Elissa Burack, Mirra Galbreath and Hannah Ralston. Suarez leads the expected returnees, who also include juniors Eliza Matt and Catherine Ralston, sophomore Becca Adams and freshman Charlotte Matt.
Volleyball team looking to grow
The girls volleyball team's season ended Oct. 16 in the first round of the Division I district tournament with a 25-16, 25-14, 25-12 loss at Dublin Scioto.
"We had some difficulty passing and we never really got into the flow of the game," coach Karen Morlan said. "We asked a lot of the girls and they delivered, but with a young team you're going to see inconsistencies sometimes."
New Albany finished 10-11 overall and 7-7 in the OCC-Capital, fourth behind champion Big Walnut (13-1), Olentangy (12-2) and Mount Vernon (11-3) and ahead of Delaware (6-8), Orange (5-9), Watkins Memorial (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
The Eagles lose four seniors in middle blocker Kyasia Duling, outside hitter Morgan Fee, defensive specialist Abby Norton and middle hitter Emily Rolwing. Expected returnees include juniors Lauren Bressler (defensive specialist), Kayla Morlan (middle blocker), Ally Vendetti (defensive specialist) and Erica Wisniewski (setter), sophomores Katie Billman (setter/defensive specialist) and Lindsey Huber (outside hitter/middle blocker) and freshman outside hitter Maddy Largent.
Bressler led the Eagles in digs (56), Morlan led in kills (179) and blocks (114) and Wisniewski had team highs in aces (39) and assists (470).
Morlan was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Bressler was second-team all-league and Huber was honorable mention.
"Everybody bought in," coach Morlan said. "We saw a lot of nice things, from the seniors who'd played a lot to the seniors who didn't play as much to the younger girls getting a chance. They got a lot of experience that's going to help them later on."