Both the Olentangy High School boys and girls cross country teams finished fifth at their respective Division I district meets last Saturday at Watkins Memorial.

Both the Olentangy High School boys and girls cross country teams finished fifth at their respective Division I district meets last Saturday at Watkins Memorial.

The reactions couldn't have been more different, however. For the boys team, finishing fifth with 145 points in district 2 meant advancing to the regional meet Saturday at Pickerington North. For the girls, fifth place (116) in district 2 meant the Braves failed to make it as a team.

"Making it to the regional meet shows just how far we've come," senior Jack Schlabig said. "At the beginning of the season we finished 50 points behind Gahanna, but when it mattered the most we edged them out by two points. We overcame everything and made it on."

The Braves and the Liberty boys team, which placed fifth (96) in the district 1 meet, were only two teams from the school district to advance to the regional meet. Orange junior Danny Meyung, who was 11th in 16 minutes, 29.69 seconds in the district 3 meet, advanced individually. Olentangy seniors Tara Walker (third, 19:05.75) and McKenzie Dove (11th, 19:05.73) and Orange's Hannah Hartzell (eighth in district 3 in 19:37.87) also advanced.

•The Olentangy boys team hadn't made it to the regional meet since 2006.

"The guys were just elated. They were hooting and hollering," coach Mike Moran said. "They've been building toward this race for a long time."

Olentangy, which finished behind qualifiers New Albany (42), Reynoldsburg (48), Hilliard Davidson (102) and St. Charles (116), was the only qualifying team in its district without a runner in the top 10.

The Braves made it on the strength of their pack. Only 34 seconds separated their front runner and fifth-place finisher with seniors Schlabig (21st, 16:57.8) and Cody Ostrander (23rd, 17:02.73), junior Patrick Zuelke (30th, 17:15.59) and sophomores Ryan Thede (33rd, 17:21.51) and Andrew Wilson (38th, 17:31.74) rounding out the team's top five.

In the district 2 girls meet, only the top four finishers of Dublin Coffman (26), Mount Vernon (78), Watkins Memorial (114) and Thomas Worthington (116) advanced. The girls team tied Thomas with 116 points but was edged out of the regional on the finishing time of the teams' sixth runners. Freshman Saryna Hrenko (56th, 22:36.65), who was filling in for injured runners Amy Harmon (pulled groin) and Angela Guidarelli (stress fracture), finished behind the Cardinals' Tara Murphy (36th, 21:24.72).

Senior Candace Dove (26th, 20:54.65), Gabi Smith (34th, 21:21.72) and Mackenzie Freeman (42nd, 21:40.80) also competed for the Braves.

"We were so close and we all really wanted to make it," Walker said. "It was like a shot to the heart when we found we didn't."

"I've come short in a lot of athletic events," coach Dwight Dewese said. "But this one hurts more than all of them. I woke up at 1 a.m. going 'What if?' We'll get over it and move on."

•After batting through illnesses the last month of the season, Orange's Meyung had his best meet of the season last Saturday, running a 16:29.68 to finish behind champion Brian Hannaford (15:33.58) and runner-up Jeff Hannaford (15:38.55) of Westerville North.

"It's all about perseverance with Danny," coach Stephanie Toler said. "He battled the last two or three weeks of the season and he finally had a break-through performance."

The Pioneers finished eighth (229) behind regional qualifiers Westerville North (52), Pickerington North (118), Watkins Memorial (124), Vincent Warren (159) and Canal Winchester (170).

Sophomores Eric Aumiller (35th, 17:12.08) and Sam Gerst (45th, 17:19.00) and juniors Connor Brown (67th, 17:42.67) and Chris Gearinger (71st, 17:49.23) also competed.

The girls team finished fifth in district 3 with 139 points, missing qualifying for the regional meet by one point. Davidson (44), Upper Arlington (60), Dublin Jerome (80) and Canal Winchester (138) advanced.

Hartzell finished 83 seconds behind champion Jessica Hoover of Davidson (18:14.55). Junior Shauni Kerkhoff (21st, 20:34.30), sophomore Brooke Pulkrabek (31st, 20:49.47), freshman Alana Stillion (35th, 21:06.41) and junior Zoey DelPinto (44th, 21:18.75) also competed for the Pioneers.

•A little over 30 seconds separated the top five runners for the Liberty boys team as the Patriots finished behind Coffman (26), Lancaster (77), Hilliard Bradley (82) and Hilliard Darby (86). Leading the way for the Patriots were sophomore Jim Pappas (13th, 16:41.13) and freshman Andrew Johnston (14th, 16:41.43), who finished behind Dublin Scioto's Luis Carbajal, who was first (15:39.37). Also competing for the Patriots were juniors Jack Jones (21st, 17:00.39), Josh Cottrill (22nd, 17:01.68) and freshman Chatham Anderson (26th, 17:11.01).

Liberty's girls team didn't have anyone qualify for the regional meet, but first-year coach Kaitlin Raver was pleased with the squad's progress.

The Patriots finished eighth (168) in district 3 with senior Alicia Nelson (23rd, 20:36.4), freshman Colette Naples (25th, 20:37.36), junior Emily Yax (38th, 21:10.44) and sophomores Kylie Spring (39th, 21:11.31) and Sarah Miller (43rd, 21:18.23) making up their top five.

"I'm so proud of all the hard work they've done all season," Raver said.

The Patriots girls team was seventh (122) at the OCC-Cardinal meet, finishing behind Scioto (28), Jerome (65), Westerville Central (105), Marysville (112), Westerville North (119) and Olentangy (119) and ahead of Westerville South (234).

Nelson (16th, 20:35.91) and Spring (18th, 20:41.05) both finished under the 21-minute mark.

Liberty loses Nelson to graduation, but Raver hopes to have a strong group coming up from the middle school to complete her team next year.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and the coming schedules for Liberty, Olentangy and Orange boys and girls cross country teams:

LIBERTY

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished fifth (96) at 10-team Division I district 1 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (26), advancing to regional as a team; Girls: Finished eighth (168) at 12-team Division I district 3 meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (44). No one advanced.

Saturday - Regional at Pickerington North. The top four teams and those individuals not on a qualifying team who finish in the top 16 advance to state Nov. 6 at Scioto Downs.

OLENTANGY

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished fifth (145) in 14-team Division I district 2 meet behind champion New Albany (42), advancing to regional as a team; Girls: Finished fifth (116) at 12-team Division I district 2 meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (26). Tara Walker (third, 19:05.73) and McKenzie Dove (11th, 19:50.52) advanced.

Saturday - Regional at Pickerington North

ORANGE

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished eighth (229) at 18-team Division I district 3 meet behind champion Westerville North (52). Danny Meyung (11th, 16:29.69) advanced. Girls: Finished fifth (139) in Division I district 3. Hannah Hartzell (eighth, 19:37.87) advanced.

Saturday - Regional at Pickerington North