Volleyball team looks for stability
The last time the Reynoldsburg High School girls volleyball team produced a winning record was in 2005, when it went 12-11 in Carole Morbitzer's last season as coach.
The Raiders have had five coaches since that time, with Caitlin Harper becoming the latest when she took over in the offseason.
Harper is a 2009 Reynoldsburg graduate who played in the program as a freshman during Morbitzer's final season. Morbitzer has been the coach at Hamilton Township, her alma mater, since 2006.
"The program (Morbitzer) has had here and at Hamilton Township is something I want to have back here," said Harper, whose team was 2-3 before playing Grove City in its OCC-Ohio Division opener Aug. 27. "It seems like when they've been on the court this year everybody has been getting along."
Harper, who is a senior at Ohio State, didn't play her final two prep seasons at Reynoldsburg but previously coached the district's junior high team.
The Raiders went 5-20 in their only season under Amber Harris, who left to take over at Watkins Memorial.
Harper's first team has seven seniors, including Nia Coleman (middle hitter), Kaylin Davison (outside hitter) and Cierra Jackson (outside hitter).
Senior Olivia Carter (middle hitter), who attends a charter school in the area, also should be a key player.
The other seniors are Loegan Brzezinski (right-side hitter), Taylor Corns (right-side hitter) and Paige Thomas (setter).
Juniors on the team are Madison Eubanks (right-side hitter), Hannah Harmon (setter), Alexa Jeffers (setter), Bailey Long (libero) and Courtney Taylor (defensive specialist).
Sophomore Kennedy Hawkins (middle hitter) also is on the roster.
The Raiders lost four players from a year ago to graduation, including Shiloh Murphy, who led in kills (102) and serving aces. Deja Clark, who led in blocks (52) as a freshman last season, is not back with the program.
Davison led in digs (225) and Jeffers in assists (216) last season.
"We're not a very tall team, but we're more of an athletic team," Harper said. "As long as we can pass the ball, we can kill the ball."
Wallace back to lead girls runners
The boys and girls cross country teams also have a new coach in Madeline Schultz, who was an assistant last spring with the track and field program.
Schultz, who is from Massachusetts but attended Oberlin College and became a teacher at Reynoldsburg last year, has one of the top competitors in the state in junior Leah Wallace.
Wallace finished 13th at state as a freshman and last fall was named the ThisWeek girls cross country Athlete of the Year after finishing 16th (18 minutes, 24.28 seconds) in the Division I state meet.
On Aug. 17 in the OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway, Wallace was fourth (19:28.11) in the Section G race.
Schultz took over in the offseason for Keith O'Neal, who led the program for one season.
"There's no question she's been working her tail off," Schultz said of Wallace. "She's had to go through a transition of having a new coach every year she's been in high school, but she's handling it well."
Also competing for the girls team are senior Kaitlyn Hill, juniors Mallory Bruggeman and Kaily Leslein and freshmen Rachel Huffman, Abby Hutson-Comeaux and Sarah Lichtner. Leslein is the only other returnee with postseason experience.
Hutson-Comeaux is expected to be one of the team's top runners.
Last season, Wallace won her second consecutive OCC-Ohio title (18:43.7) as the Raiders were fifth (43) in the league meet behind champion Gahanna (40).
Wallace also won titles in the district 2 meet (18:45.71) and at regional (18:44.9). The Raiders were 12th (322) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (31).
Boys to field young roster
Donovan Kitchen is the only senior for the boys cross country team, which lost state-qualifier Dominik Seitzer to graduation.
Also back are juniors Mike Crider, Christian Snyder and James Welday.
Others looking to contribute are juniors Ian Hagley and George Park and freshmen Stone Knapp, Riley Livingston, John Mauritz, Hunter Rich, Joey Russell, Warrick Stanford and Joey Welday.
Rich, Russell and Stanford are among the team's top runners despite being new to the program.
Seitzer, who is running for Ohio State, was fourth (16:31.5) in the league meet a year ago as the Raiders placed sixth (164) behind champion Pickerington North (47).
He then was second (16:14.06) in the district 3 race as the Raiders were eighth (286) behind champion Dublin Jerome (51).
Seitzer finished 122nd (16:52.47) at state.
"It's a young team, but they're all hard workers," Schultz said. "What I really want to see, especially with me coaching cross country for the first time, is for them to buy into the process."