Coach Eric Acton is excited about the prospects for his Bexley High School cross country program.
The boys team has several experienced athletes who can run together near the top of the pack, and the girls squad has one of the area's top performers in senior Molly Fagin to lead the way.
The Lions are coming off a season in which the boys and girls teams reached the Division II state meet together for the first time in program history, and the girls won their second consecutive MSL-Ohio Division championship.
Peter Hayden, a 2017 graduate, led the boys by finishing fourth at state in a personal-record 15 minutes, 48.4 seconds and now is competing at Ohio State.
However, the next four runners from state all return in seniors Andrew Rogers and Sam Warner, junior Theo Snowdon and sophomore Miles Feinknopf. Senior Zach Shapiro and first-year junior Nick Hall add depth to the lineup.
"We have a tight group of guys, even without Peter and last year's seniors," said Acton, who is in his 30th season. "They have been around winners and they know how to battle. I've been impressed with them early in the season."
The boys opened by winning the 14-team New Albany Invitational on Aug. 21, scoring 67 points to finish ahead of runner-up New Albany (86). Hall (seventh, 17:54) and Snowdon (eighth, 17:55) led the way.
The girls were led at state last fall by Fagin (17th, personal-record 18:51.6) and 2017 graduate Julia Cohn (21st, 18:56.7). It was Fagin's second trip to state.
Junior Virginia Anderson also competed at state. Rounding out the lineup are junior Annie Politi, sophomore Sophia Baker and freshmen Ally Grieshop, Hannah Hayden, Karleigh Place and Maria Steinke.
"Molly has a great work ethic and is the leader of our hard-working seniors," Acton said. "We have a lot of freshmen who are making strong contributions. I think this group will develop into strong runners in late September or early October."
The girls opened by finishing second (89) of 13 teams at New Albany behind Fairfield Union (52). Fagin won in 19:33.
"It feels different being in a leadership role after looking up to the seniors for the past couple of years," Fagin said. "Now I'm the one giving direction and guidance to the younger runners and helping them with their high school experience."
On Aug. 30, Fagin won the Canal Winchester Invitational in 18:40.6 as the girls were second (105) of 16 teams behind Fairfield Union (56). Led by Hall's 10th-place finish in 17:27, the boys were runners-up (93) to Grandview (68) as 21 teams scored.
Field hockey team
filled with experience
The inexperience that the field hockey program dealt with two years ago should make for a formidable group this season.
The Lions return seven starters from last season when they finished 10-8. Two seasons ago, they were 5-12.
"We have a lot of experience back," 15th-year coach Kara Whitlatch said. "Two years ago, our team was very young and we were forced to start a lot of freshmen who might not have been ready to handle the speed of the varsity game just yet. Now they are juniors who understand the demands and pace of the game."
The team's lone senior is forward Ellie Palmer, who led Bexley with 21 goals last season and was second-team all-league. The other returning starters are juniors Mackenzie Cory (defender/midfielder), Emma Easley (defender), Margaux Harding (mid-fielder/defender), Ailbhe McCann (defender), Maddy Vincent (forward) and Annie Walker (midfielder).
Also back are juniors Bea Anderson (forward/midfielder), Tess Baker (midfielder/forward), Meredith Eddy (forward), Ellie Rupp (mid-fielder/forward) and Zoe Touris (defender/midfielder).
Sophomore Tal Mars is in her first season in goal.
"Tal played defense last year, but stepped up to learn to play goalie," Whitlatch said. "There is a learning curve that goes with learning a new position. We also need for our midfielders to work with the forwards in order to give us better offensive chances."
Also on the roster are sophomore Andi Meyer (utility) and freshmen Maia Ben-David (forward/midfielder), Eimear McCann (forward) and Phoebe Snowdon (midfielder/defender).
Palmer had two goals in the Lions' 2-1 start. They lost to Dayton Oakwood 2-1 on Aug. 19 before defeating Dublin Coffman 2-0 on Aug. 23 and Dublin Jerome 3-1 on Aug. 28.
Bexley opens Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East play Thursday, Sept. 7, at home against Hartley.
Girls volleyball team
returns five starters
The girls volleyball team returns five starters as it looks to improve on last season's 4-18 record.
Amanda Frey, a setter and outside hitter, is the lone senior. The other returning starters are juniors Sierra Rogers (defensive speicalist), Savannah Schwallie (outside hitter), Kaia Woodford (libero) and Josie Zox (middle hitter).
"We have been a young team over the last couple of years, but now we have some experience," third-year coach Cathie Ward said."
Those freshmen are Anna Appling (setter), Zoe Boxill (right-side hitter), Gracie Glasser (middle hitter), Hayley Heideman (right-side hitter/setter) and Arianna Martin (right-side hitter). Rounding out the roster are juniors Eva Bradley (defensive specialist), Erin Fetters (defensive specialist) and Payton Millard (right-side hitter/setter) and sophomores Joy Hansen (defensive specialist) and Juliet Ryan (right-side hitter/setter).
"We have players who are learning new roles, so we're looking for some consistency there," said Ward, whose team was 2-4 after opening MSL-Ohio play by losing to Whitehall 25-18, 25-19, 25-23 on Aug. 31.
Bexley defeated Eastmoor Academy 17-25, 17-25, 25-7, 25-16, 15-9 on Aug. 21 and Columbus South 25-17, 22-25, 25-12, 25-20 on Aug. 22. The Lions then lost to West Jefferson 25-14, 25-13, 25-16 on Aug. 25, Columbus School for Girls 25-20, 25-16, 25-22 on Aug. 28 and Teays Valley 25-21, 25-18, 25-11 on Aug. 30.
Football teams looks
to avenge playoff loss
The football team gets a chance at redemption Friday, Sept. 8, when it plays at Hamilton Township, which eliminated the Lions from the 2016 postseason.
The Rangers won 26-20 in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal. The sting of that defeat still lingers with senior running back/defensive back Henry Bredemeier.
"(The Rangers) knocked us out last season, so it would be nice to get a little revenge," he said.
"I remember the game was close and it was a fun atmosphere to play in. They were the best team we had played all year, and it was a tough challenge. It was a great game, but we didn't get the results we wanted.
Two distinctly different teams will take the field, as both have a new coach. The Lions are led by Nathan Castorena, who was offensive line coach at Olentangy Orange the past three seasons.
Hamilton Township is led by Mike Savino, who was the team's offensive coordinator the past three seasons.
Both teams lost numerous starters and had difficult starts. The Lions lost to Harvest Prep 30-0 on Aug. 25 and lost to Buckeye Valley 37-6 on Sept. 1. The Rangers lost to Granville 52-14 on Aug. 25 and beat Groveport 21-14 on Aug. 31.
Aug. 21 -- New Albany Invitational
Aug. 26 -- Dan Reid Invitational at Whitehall Community Park
Aug. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 16 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 20 -- Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone
Sept. 23 -- Lancaster Bob Reall Invitational
Oct. 4 -- Hartley at Jeffrey Mansion
Oct. 14 -- MSL-Ohio meet at London Country Club
Aug. 19 -- vs. Dayton Oakwood
Aug. 23 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 6 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 7 -- vs. Hartley
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Watterson
*Sept. 14 -- vs. New Albany
Sept. 16 -- vs. Cincinnati Ursuline
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Granville
Sept. 23 -- at Cincinnati St. Ursula
*Sept. 25 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 28 -- at Columbus Academy
*Oct. 3 -- at Columbus School for Girls
Oct. 5 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*Oct. 9 -- at Lancaster
Oct. 11 -- vs. Olentangy
Aug. 21 -- at Eastmoor Academy
Aug. 22 -- vs. Columbus South
Aug. 26 -- vs. West Jefferson
Aug. 28 -- at Columbus School for Girls
Aug. 30 -- vs. Teays Valley
*Aug. 31 -- at Whitehall
Sept. 2 -- Heath, Ready and Zanesville Maysville in Heath Invitational
*Sept. 5 -- vs. London
Sept. 6 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 11 -- vs. Eastmoor Academy
*Sept. 12 -- at Worthington Christian
*Sept. 14 -- vs. Grandview
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Columbus Academy
*Sept. 23 -- at London
*Sept. 26 -- vs. Whitehall
Sept. 27 -- at Columbus West
*Oct. 5 -- vs. Worthington Christian
*Oct. 7 -- at Grandview
*Oct. 10 -- at Columbus Academy
Oct. 12 -- vs. Groveport
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 7 -- Hartley at Westchester
Sept. 9 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 12 -- Watterson at Westchester
*Sept. 7 -- Worthington Christian at Blackhawk
*Sept. 11 -- London at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 13 -- Granville at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 9 -- At Bloom-Carroll
Sept. 12 -- At Granville
*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Zanesville Rosecrans
*Sept. 7 -- At Worthington Christian
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Grandview
Sept. 13 -- At Gahanna