Having made it to state a year ago, Reynoldsburg High School cross country runner Leah Wallace entered the Division I girls state meet Nov. 3 looking forward to getting "pumped up from all the fans and everyone cheering" at National Trail Raceway.
Wallace, who finished 13th in 18 minutes, 35.76 seconds last year, improved on that time by more than 10 seconds and again earned all-state honors. The sophomore was 20th at the 1-mile mark, moved up to 15th heading into the final mile and finished 16th in 18:24.28.
Also competing at state for Reynoldsburg was senior Dominik Seitzer, who placed 122nd (16:52.47) in the boys race.
"She had a pretty good race, but it was tough competition and I know she fell at one point," coach Keith O'Neal said of Wallace. "She obviously was hoping to do better. We talked to her about being proud that she's already been all-state twice as only a sophomore."
Lebanon's Jacquelyn Crow won the girls race in 17:39.31.
Wallace won her second OCC-Ohio Division championship when she ran 18:43.7 on Oct. 13 at Lancaster. The Raiders were fifth (143) behind Gahanna (40), Pickerington North (59), Pickerington Central (77) and Lancaster (105) and ahead of Grove City (155) and Newark (163).
Then in the district 2 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial, Wallace won the title in 18:45.71 to advance to regional.
She followed with a regional championship Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, running 18:44.9 despite muddy and cold conditions.
At state, she was 11 seconds out of the lead after the first mile and slowly worked her way up. Dublin Coffman's Rachel Boswoth (12th, 18:16.58), Hilliard Davidson's Lauren Hoover (15th, 18:21.08) and Westerville North's Heather Sandvik (20th, 18:33.34) were the only other runners from central Ohio to make the top 25.
"She's such a competitor, and that's why she's so good," said former coach Denny Hammond, who trained throughout the season with Wallace and Seitzer. "(The front pack of runners) just got away from her. She's upset but she's just a 10th-grader. She wasn't really ready to run 17:30 yet."
Also competing for the girls team at district were seniors Kyrsty Rider (63rd, 23:26.83), Logan Baker (73rd, 23:48.97) and Ellie Barclay (91st, 26:13.84) and sophomore Kaily Lesline (94th, 26:47.86). The Raiders were 12th (322) behind champion Coffman (31).
Seitzer reached a season goal by making it to state.
He was fourth (16:31.5) in the league meet as the Raiders were sixth (164) behind Pickerington North (47), Lancaster (52), Newark (53), Gahanna (82) and Pickerington Central (142) and ahead of Grove City (196).
Then in the district 3 race, Seitzer was second (16:14.06) as the Raiders were eighth (286) behind champion Dublin Jerome (51). Also running for the boys team at district were junior Donovan Kitchen (48th, 18:25.75), senior Brian Albrecht (65th, 20:07.12) and sophomores Christian Snyder (82nd, 21:19.26), James Welday (89th, 22:28.17), Mike Crider (95th, 24:42.68) and Blake Campbell (97th, 25:51.72).
"We have six sophomore guys who will all be juniors next year," O'Neal said. "We have a good group of eight freshmen, so we're hoping to get an increase in numbers."
Senior class led boys soccer team
The boys soccer team followed a run to its first district championship a year ago by advancing to a Division I district semifinal.
That was the biggest highlight during a season in which the Raiders battled injuries and went 6-10-2 overall.
Reynoldsburg placed seventh (1-5-1) in the OCC-Ohio, behind Gahanna (7-0), Pickerington Central (4-1-2), Pickerington North (4-2-1), Lancaster (3-1-3), Grove City (3-3-1) and Groveport (2-5) and ahead of Newark (0-7).
In the postseason, the Raiders beat Marysville 2-1 on Oct. 20 but fell to Westerville North 1-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 24.
"This is my third year as coach, and out of all of my teams, this team's come the furthest of any of them," said Justin Lewis, whose team went 9-8-3 last season. "As a unit we were giving up four goals a game after six games and as weird as it is, the Pickerington North game helped us."
The game Lewis referred to came Sept. 18, when the Raiders couldn't hold on to the lead and lost 2-1. Reynoldsburg also led Gahanna on Sept. 11 but lost 3-2.
The Raiders lose an 11-member senior class that was led by Alec Everts (midfielder, first-team all-league), Xander Sohalski (defender, second-team all-league) and Matt Takacs (defender/midfielder, honorable mention all-league).
Juniors Antonio Nocevski, Issac Kolevski, Nah Doan and Nahom Abayneh and sophomore John Wallake are key players eligible to return.
Girls soccer team took step forward
The girls soccer team loses just two seniors in Christa Zellefrow and Meleesha Hodge from a squad that improved by three victories from a year ago.
The Raiders went 9-6-2 overall and finished fifth (3-3-1) in the OCC-Ohio behind Pickerington North (7-0), Grove City (5-1-1), Gahanna (5-2) and Pickerington Central (4-3) and ahead of Lancaster (1-5-1), Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-6-1).
Reynoldsburg lost 2-1 in overtime to visiting Hilliard Darby in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16.
Junior Katie Broehm made first-team all-league, junior defender Kelsey Johnson made the second team, junior Catherine Gundelfinger was special mention and junior Alex Thorn was honorable mention.