Cross country teams to rebuild
Experience is thin for the DeSales High School cross country teams, but coach Bob Lennon has been through this before.
In fact, he went through it just last season.
However, despite having low numbers, the boys team finished second in the CCL and advanced to the Division II regional meet as it added soccer player Pete Ryan to the roster after the start of the season. Ryan, a 2012 graduate, won the CCL title (16 minutes, 55.41 seconds) and a district title (17:03.59), placed fifth (16:47.9) at regional and finished 16th (16:27.68) at state to earned all-state honors.
"Pete won his first four races last year, but that was such a rare thing," said Lennon, who is in his 37th season leading the program. "It was something that happens maybe once in a coaching career.
"But, we did pick up one soccer player for the boys team and there are a couple who play soccer for the girls team and another who came to us from volleyball. Plus, we added some first-time runners, so I'm happy for the newcomers and excited by some of them."
The boys team returns senior Dylan Griffin and juniors Anthony Hayes and Ian Lawson, who was first-team all-CCL and first-team all-district last year.
Last season, the Stallions finished third (68) behind Lakewood (58) and Centennial (59) in the district 2 meet at Watkins Memorial, as the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional at Troy.
DeSales finished ninth (245) at regional behind champion Springfield Shawnee (33) as the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to the state meet at National Trail Raceway. Lawson placed 10th (17:56.78) at district and finished 58th (17:55.62) at regional. Also at regional, Griffin was 90th (18:41.09) and Hayes finished 121st (20:27.23).
DeSales placed second (49) in the CCL meet last year at Otterbein University, behind St. Charles (25) and ahead of Watterson (57), Hartley (128) and Ready (135).
Also hoping to make the lineup are juniors Jake Eubanks and Thomas Gorman and freshman Creighton Barrett.
"Ian is our captain and has the most experience and Dylan also is a two-year letterman," Lennon said. "Gorman and Eubanks had never competed in cross country before this year and Barrett ran in middle school.
"As a whole, I expect them to get better and better. The more they get in shape, the more they'll improve and gain confidence. I think Ian has a chance to make state. He's a hard worker and he put in his miles (during the summer)."
DeSales opened Aug. 22 by finishing seventh (190) in the 13-team New Albany Classic, as the host Eagles (24) won.
Lawson (11th, 17:39) led the Stallions and was followed by Barrett (32nd, 18:41), Griffin (40th, 18:57), Gorman (41st, 19:01) and Hayes (120th, 21:07).
The girls team returned just two runners who competed in the postseason last year.
The Stallions finished 11th (276) in the 12-team Division I, district 2 meet at Watkins Memorial, behind champion Dublin Scioto (29).
Junior Kristin Faulkner (73rd, 23:59.87) was the team's fifth scorer at district and sophomore Katya Barrett (76th, 25:10.17) also competed.
"Katya is a goalkeeper for the soccer team and (senior) Michelle Seifert is a first-year runner from the soccer team who also runs track," Lennon said. "(Junior) Kara Hoying is a first-year runner who played volleyball last year."
Faulkner, who joined the team late last season, is expected to be the team's top runner.
Lennon said freshman Andrea Coffey, a first-year runner, could join Barrett and Hoying in the middle of the lineup, while senior Lauren Omlor, sophomore Bailey Cadena and freshmen Eliza Cargin, Jenna Melvin and Nina Rupert also are vying for spots.
Omlor, a fourth-year member, is the captain.
"Faulkner is truly a sprinter, but she put in her running over the summer and should be even better in her second season in distance," Lennon said. "Like the boys team, I think they will get better and better when the temperatures fall and they gain confidence. In fact, they may surprise some people and I think the CCL is up for grabs this year."
Last season, the Stallions finished fifth (102) in the CCL meet, behind Ready (42), Columbus School for Girls (42), Watterson (74) and Hartley (93).
In the 12-team New Albany Classic, DeSales finished sixth (202) as Upper Arlington (38) won. Scoring for the Stallions were Coffey (25th, 22:10), Faulkner (30th, 22:18), Hoying (57th, 24:25), Melvin (63rd, 24:54) and Cadena (79th, 26:00).
Volleyball team looks to continue trend
The girls volleyball team has elevated its play each of the past three seasons.
The Stallions were Division II district runners-up in 2009 and 2010 before reaching a regional final last season, where they lost to Mansfield Madison 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 26-24 to finish 23-3 overall.
DeSales' other two losses came in CCL play, as it went 6-2 to place second behind Hartley (7-1) and ahead of Watterson (4-4), Ready (3-5) and CSG (0-8).
Ranked fifth in the final state poll, the Stallions were the top seed in the district and won four district matches, including a 26-24, 25-21, 25-19 victory over fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder in a final.
DeSales then defeated Celina 25-14, 25-15, 25-17 in a regional semifinal before falling to Mansfield Madison.
Although the Stallions lost six players to graduation, four key players return in seniors Erika Brown (5-foot-11, outside hitter) and Bella Guanciale (libero) and juniors Kenya Cason (5-11, middle hitter) and Kendall Witt (5-9, right-side hitter).
Last season, Guanciale was first-team all-district and Brown and Cason were second-team all-district.
"Our team possesses natural talent and eminent potential," said fourth-year coach Kelly Morgan, who shared district Coach of the Year honors with Big Walnut's Ron Lehman last year. "They are resilient and work daily to grow independently and as a unit."
Others expected to play key roles are junior Coley Tuel (right-side hitter), sophomores Emily Durbin (middle hitter) and Abby Julian (setter) and freshmen Julia Brown (setter), Dani Guanciale (outside hitter) and Doni Guanciale (defensive specialist).
"With six new faces to the varsity roster, we are young and have a lack of experience as a whole battling against us," Morgan said.