The Pickerington High School North boys cross country team reached its goal last Saturday when it earned a runner-up finish at the Division I district 3 meet at Watkins Memorial.

The Pickerington High School North boys cross country team reached its goal last Saturday when it earned a runner-up finish at the Division I district 3 meet at Watkins Memorial.

For the Panthers to approach that finish at the regional Saturday on their home course, they know an even better run is likely to be necessary.

"Our pack needs to be 20 seconds faster," coach Tim Starkey said. "Our goal was to get second place and we got second place, but we're going to have to run a little more convincingly if we want to make it to state."

The top four teams and individuals not on qualifying teams who finish in the top 16 advance to the state meet Nov. 6 at Scioto Downs.

The North girls team also advanced after taking third (70) at the district 1 meet behind New Albany (34) and Dublin Scioto (66).

Last Saturday, the Panthers boys scored 118 points to finish behind Westerville North (52) in the 18-team race.

Senior John Parsons led North with a 10th-place finish in 16 minutes, 28.11 seconds. He had the 20th-fastest time among all runners at the three district meets last Saturday.

"I woke up with a little bit of a headache and didn't feel all that great," Parsons said. "I'm only about 10 seconds off (of being among the top 16 individuals) based on the district results, and I think the difference is that I know the course at Pickerington North and I'll be feeling better."

Sophomore Brent Pritchard was North's No. 2 runner, finishing 21st in 16:50.15. He was followed by juniors James Whitehead (28th, 17:00.93) and Grant Snyder (29th, 27:03.4), sophomore Sean Saffle (30th, 17:03.81), junior Austin Kilgore (32nd, 17:06.34) and senior Justin Simmons (40th, 17:15.98).

"John has been a dependable performer who always runs smart," Starkey said. "Brent Pritchard has been consistent along with Sean Saffle and Grant Snyder. We've just got to be packed up at the mile. They're not racing for time, but they're racing for place."

Sophomore Kristen Eisenhauer's resurgence continued last Saturday after she got off to a slow start this season because of injury. She won the district 1 race in 19:11.05, followed by senior Kim Black (fifth, 19:39.17), sophomore Fayth Greegor (16th, 20:27.93), freshman Jordan Potts (19th, 20:40.75) and seniors Julianne Ballog (29th, 21:12.01) and Morgan Grodesky (30th, 21:13.72).

Eisenhauer had the eighth-best district time overall and was North's first district champion since Bailey Flask in 2004.

"Kristen was the district champion, which was nice to see," coach Jim Langenderfer said. "We haven't had a district champion for quite a while. I think Fayth set a (personal best), which is great because she's had an Achilles' tendon issue. Kim had another great race."

New Albany, Scioto, district 2-champion Dublin Coffman and district 3-champion Hilliard Davidson will be among the North girls' toughest competition at regional.

•The Central girls team will have two individuals at regional after senior Kaitlyn Meyer took fifth (19:25.1) and freshman Morgan Richardson was 14th (20:15.29) at the district 3 meet last Saturday.

The Tigers boys team also has two individual regional qualifiers in juniors Brennan McCotter (17th, 16:49.88) and Mason Prater (18th, 16:50.55) from the district 2 meet.

Prater and Meyer made it to regional individually last year as well.

The Central girls finished seventh (143) at the 12-team district meet behind Davidson (44), as the top four teams advanced to regional. Meyer and Richardson were followed by freshman Stephanie Gase (29th, 20:47.63), senior Jessica Bussom (46th, 21:22.89), junior Emily Sharrett (49th, 21:31.04) and freshmen Tyler Williams (50th, 21:34.66) and Elizabeth Weed (79th, 24:05.59).

"I'm happy with the place I got, but I could have gotten a better place (at district)," Meyer said. "I started out a little too fast. It's pretty flat and narrow going into the woods and it's so competitive that everybody starts off really fast. The start is like a straight-away for the first 400."

Meyer is hoping for a more enjoyable day at regional after she was unable to finish last year's race because of an injury.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Meyer said. "I just have to run a little bit more mentally tough than I have been. You have to be competitive and strong mentally. For me that course (at Pickerington North) isn't the best because it's not very hilly and it's kind of lonely in the middle of it because there's nobody out there at some stretches to cheer you on."

The Central boys placed 10th (223) at the 14-team district 2 meet behind champion New Albany (42). McCotter and Prater were followed by sophomores Luke Forshey (51st, 18:12.64) and Brock Ritter (66th, 18:39.72) and juniors Mitch Boothe (71st, 19:14.2), Michael Gase (72nd, 19:19.06) and Kyle Gambert (79th, 19:58.17).