Because of injuries to two of its top three runners, Claire Graupmann (strained iliotibial band) and Amber McAlpine (strained patella tendon), the Thomas Worthington High School girls cross country team hasn't run to its potential this season.

Because of injuries to two of its top three runners, Claire Graupmann (strained iliotibial band) and Amber McAlpine (strained patella tendon), the Thomas Worthington High School girls cross country team hasn't run to its potential this season.

Coach Andy Cox said the Cardinals' top five runners will need to put together a faster and tighter pack in the Division I regional meet Saturday at Pickerington North to keep their season alive.

The top four teams and those individuals not on a qualifying team who finish in the top 16 in the boys and girls regionals will advance to the state meet Nov. 7 at Scioto Downs.

"We've really missed having Claire and Amber healthy, because they would have given us five runners within 30 seconds of each other," Cox said. "But they're getting healthier each week, and Annalee Haviland and Tara Murphy are continuing to improve, so I'm hoping we'll become the team we've expected to become all year right when it matters. Cheyenne Buckingham, Melissa Girgis, Kelsey McAlpine are running really well, so we just need two more girls to rise to the occasion for regional."

Four teams ranked in last week's Division I state poll will compete in Thomas' regional, Dublin Scioto (fifth), Sylvania Northview (sixth), Toledo Notre Dame Academy (eighth) and Upper Arlington (tied for 19th).

Cox said he considers Canal Winchester, Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Davidson, Mount Vernon and Watkins Memorial contenders for a top-four regional finish as well.

Thomas finished sixth (198) in the regional last year, behind Cincinnati Oak Hills (61), Kings Mills Kings (72), Upper Arlington (79), Mason (108) and Davidson (123).

"Dublin Scioto and Sylvania Northview look great. So, it's going to be a real battle between the rest of us for those third and fourth spots," Cox said. "We just have to run our best and see where that puts us. With the flu going around the way it has, any of those teams could be decimated by the time we run. So, we just have to focus on running well ourselves instead of how the other teams are doing."

The Cardinals finished third (88) in the nine-team district 1 meet last Saturday at Watkins Memorial, behind Upper Arlington (45) and Davidson (51). Buckingham was fourth (20 minutes, 15.82 seconds), followed by Girgis (13th, 20:55.87), Kelsey McAlpine (14th, 20:57.49), Annalee Haviland (26th, 21:55.13) and Graupmann (31st, 22:01.67).

"We just want to run our best and continue to show improvement," Cox said. "The most important thing for district is to make it through to regional."

The Thomas boys team finished sixth (141) in the Division I district 3 meet last Saturday at Watkins Memorial, behind New Albany (67), Reynoldsburg (69), Olentangy Liberty (76), Davidson (114) and Hilliard Bradley (118).

Max Friedlander (11th, 17:38.01), Madison Murphy (25th, 18:06.61), Daniel McGeary (26th, 18:15.02), Albert Darling (40th, 18:41.86) and Will Maier (41st, 18:40.8) scored to help the Cardinals beat Vincent Warren (165) for the final regional qualifying spot.

"It was a hard-fought battle in nasty weather, and we made it by the skin of our teeth, but I'm happy that we did make it to regional," coach Jeff Henderson said. "Our top three ran great, and Albert and Will ran the best races of their high school careers to get us the points we needed."

Thomas finished 15th (327) in the 16-team regional behind champion Davidson (76) last year.


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Kilbourne and Thomas boys and girls cross country teams:

KILBOURNE

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished ninth (231) in Division I district meet behind champion New Albany (67). Eric Clemens (36th, 18:37.15), Scott Weiss (47th, 19:00.66), Tom Green (48th, 19:03.05), Wyatt Allread (51st, 19:05.11) and Chris Coury (54th, 19:09.25) scored; Girls: Finished eighth (207) in 12-team Division I district 3 meet behind champion Canal Winchester (59). Dani Kaufman (20th, 21:23.1), Meredith Lapp (38th, 22:21.29), Christine Miller (46th, 22:52.88), Rachel Colby (49th, 23:12.7) and Maeve Beyers (54th, 23:30.84) scored.

THOMAS

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished sixth (141) in 13-team Division I district 3 meet behind champion New Albany (67); Girls: Finished third (88) in nine-team Division I district 1 meet behind Upper Arlington (45) and Davidson (51) Saturday -- Regional at Pickerington North