The competition evened the score with the Reynoldsburg High School boys cross country team at last Saturday's Division I regional at Pickerington North, but afterward the Raiders weren't wasting any energy fretting about their regional finish.

The competition evened the score with the Reynoldsburg High School boys cross country team at last Saturday's Division I regional at Pickerington North, but afterward the Raiders weren't wasting any energy fretting about their regional finish.

The Raiders took third with 99 points behind Hilliard Davidson (76) and Hilliard Darby (87), both of which they beat in the Midwest Meet of Champions on Sept. 27. Still, Reynoldsburg advanced to state Saturday at Scioto Downs, the one race that it has been gearing toward all season.

"We just have to get all five of (our runners) on the same page, and if we do that, we'll be fine," coach Denny Hammond said. "We're running pretty well right now."

Steady winds, chilly temperatures and residual wetness from the previous day's rain kept the times up across the field last Saturday. In fact, no runners broke 16 minutes, with Yoshi Shimizu of Davidson winning the Division I race in 16 minutes, 5.1 seconds. Luis Carbajal of Dublin Scioto took second in 16:10.15 and Tsehaye Hiluf was just behind him in third (16:11.87).

Daryl Murphy was the next Reynoldsburg finisher, taking ninth (16:17.54), and Calvin Garza was 20th (16:43.67). The final two scoring runners were Lamar Booker (39th, 17:02.55) and Hiruy Abraha (17:10.35). Jake Wilson was 87th (17:42.81) and Matt Nofziger was 95th (17:50.4).

"It's tough for everybody," Garza said. "Regional doesn't get any easier (with experience) for anyone. Everyone is out there running as hard as they can, knowing this is the last race they've got unless they do well and get to state."

Hiluf hadn't been challenged as he cruised to victories in the past two meets, but he ran into a tough field with some veteran runners last Saturday. Hammond said he was happy with the performance of his freshman considering the circumstances.

"He was put in a situation where he had to lead a little bit," Hammond said. "He's a freshman and the other guys used him (to lead the race) a little bit, but he won't be leading at the state meet. I'm happy with the way he ran. He had to lead into the wind today."

In the state meet, the Raiders will be looking to atone for one of their worst performances last year, when they finished last of 16 teams. That team, though, had only one runner, Garza, who had been to the state meet before. This season, Hiluf will be the only runner in the top five for Reynoldsburg who has not been to state before.

Reynoldsburg ran against what Hammond considers to be the toughest teams in the state earlier this season, finishing fourth in the Midwest Meet of Champions with 127 points, behind Mason (94), Toledo St. John's (110) and Centerville (116). At state, Hammond fully expects his team to be in the mix for the title.

"Davidson and Darby are both top-10 teams in the state, and I wouldn't say we had a great day (last Saturday), but hats off to them. They ran better than us, but we feel like we can run with people," Hammond said. "We've just got to fix a few things."

•The girls team finished 14th (330) in the Division I regional and did not qualify any individuals to the state meet, but it was a solid building year for the Raiders, who missed the regional entirely last season.

Last Saturday, Reynoldsburg beat only Dublin Jerome (358) and Pickerington North (428) as Cincinnati Oak Hills (61) won the title.

"There are only 16 teams here, so that's a statement in itself, whether you beat anybody or not," Hammond said. "There are a lot of good teams that didn't even make it here."

Taneisha Cordell was 31st in 20:18.1, just off her personal-best of 20:05.8 that she set a week earlier at district. Loni Marchello was 69th (21:05.29), just ahead of Dani Watson (21:06.11). Lashina Rhynehardt was 104th (21:53.34), and Colette Mihocik was 116th (22:43.22). Emily Ladowitz (119th, 23:16.85) and Michelle Snyder (121st, 23:56.87) also competed.

The Raiders were third in the district meet with 120 points, behind Upper Arlington (22) and Dublin Coffman (83). They took sixth of eight teams in the OCC-Ohio Division meet with 119 points, behind champion Pickerington North (74).

The Raiders will lose only one senior, Ladowitz, from their lineup. Watson, a junior, finished 11th at district in 19:51.15 and set a personal-best of 19:23.19 in the Midwest Meet of Champions. That was the fastest mark on the team by 40 seconds this year.

Cordell and Marchello, both standout 800-meter runners, could also make big leaps next season after running for the cross country team for the first time this fall. Juniors Mihocik and Rhynehardt and sophomore Snyder are all two-year varsity runners.

At a glance

GIRLS

•Finishes: Sixth in OCC-Ohio, third in district, 14th in regional

•Senior lost: Emily Ladowitz

•Key returnees: Taneisha Cordell, Loni Marchello and Dani Watson