DeSales High School cross country coach Ben McGinnis was not surprised that seniors Cammy Bury and Abi DeBrosse were the girls team's top runners to start the season.
Both have filled those roles virtually their entire careers, with DeBrosse leading the Stallions in their final five regular-season meets last year and finishing in the team's top three in all but two races since the middle of her freshman season.
But McGinnis wants more from that tandem than just wins and leading DeSales to a regional meet for the first time in three years.
"It's our last season with them and I told them they had to leave me with a strong pack," said McGinnis, who is in his third season. "It feels like they've been here forever. When we're done with this season, they have to set me up. I want them to teach these girls to run like they do."
McGinnis needed just one word to say why Bury and DeBrosse are depended on as leaders.
"Fearlessness," he said. "They're both fearless. Whether they're hurting or nervous, it doesn't matter. They have the ability to shut that down and run to their potential every race. Even the boys sometimes have a hard time with that. Those girls are just fearless. They're tough."
DeSales opened Aug. 21 by finishing seventh (165 points) of 13 teams in the New Albany Classic behind champion Fairfield Union (52).
Bury placed fifth in 20 minutes, 36 seconds, with DeBrosse (15th, 21:57), freshmen Hannah Pekarcik (41st, 23:40) and Bre Callahan (47th, 24:00) and senior Sarah Zaino (74th, 25:20) also scoring for the Stallions.
Callahan, Pekarcik and Zaino lead a group of runners that are either in their first or second seasons with the program.
Zaino ran as a junior but missed track and field season because of a torn right ACL.
Other runners whom McGinnis expects to vie for spots in the top seven include juniors Sarah Pancake and Kathryn Stalnaker, sophomores Erika Thomas and Abby Walker and freshmen Kendell Gonya, Evie Sarle and Maya Steiger.
"A lot of the girls are still learning," McGinnis said. "I'm already seeing some tremendous things from these girls. They will get better. It will just take some time for them to learn how to be better runners."
In the Pickerington Classic on Aug. 26 at Pickerington North, the Stallions finished 18th (450) in the 28-team Bengal Division behind champion Mount Gilead (54). Bury placed 20th (21:00.42) to lead DeSales.
The Stallions finished third (70) at last year's CCL meet behind champion Watterson (18) but did not score at district.
DeSales will compete in Division I in the postseason for the third consecutive year. The team's most recent regional berth came in 2014 when the Stallions were in Division II.
Boys cross country
lineup could vary
Although the boys cross country team's top seven runners finished within a span of 2:04 at the New Albany Classic, McGinnis said the pack has been even tighter during practices.
"When we've been running time trials, there's about a 40-second difference between first and 10th, so they are really packed," McGinnis said. "It's competitive in a very positive way. The atmosphere is good. ...
"We have 10 or 11 boys who are all really close. That's a good, really strong pack and we haven't had that in the last couple years. They are so much closer (time-wise). They want it more this year than in the last couple."
Junior Ian McCandlish placed 22nd (18:48) to lead DeSales in the New Albany Classic, in which it finished sixth (159) of 13 teams behind champion Bexley (62). Also scoring were sophomore John Shoemaker (23rd, 18:50), junior Jonathan Pusateri (34th, 19:16), sophomore Ben Towler (37th, 19:33) and junior Angelo Ricci (38th, 19:35).
Behind them in the top 10 have been seniors Bobby Acklin, Justin Braun, Jake Smith, Cole Trejchel and Art Williams, junior Matt Stone and freshman Nick Schetter.
"The boys are pretty seasoned," said McGinnis, who added that he thinks Ricci -- who was 16th in the long jump in the Division I state track and field meet last spring -- could ascend to the top of the lineup at some point.
"He is killing it," McGinnis said. "If he has ever hits a weak spot at practice, I just say 'state' to remind him he is athletic. He can go, and every time I say that he really gets after it."
In the Pickerington Classic, the Stallions were 11th (292) of 12 teams in the Panther Division behind host and champion North (85).
DeSales placed third (86) in the league meet last year behind champion St. Charles (20) and finished sixth at district, two spots shy of a regional berth.
The Stallions haven't advanced to regional as a team since 2012 and haven't been represented at that stage since 2013.
Football team renews
matchup with Mooney
The football team will face one of Ohio's all-time most successful programs when it plays host to Youngstown Mooney on Friday, Sept. 8.
The Cardinals have won eight state championships, with the last coming in Division III in 2011.
The contest will represent the fourth meeting between the programs, with the last coming in 2010 when DeSales won 41-31.
In 2009, Mooney defeated the Stallions 21-14 during the regular season and 35-7 in the state title game.
"We're always looking for games, and this past year we had a bunch of contracts up," coach Ryan Wiggins said. "Anytime you're playing Cardinal Mooney, you're playing one of the traditional powers."
While DeSales went 13-1 and was a state semifinalist last season, Mooney finished 8-3 and was a Division IV regional semifinalist.
The Stallions opened with a 50-0 victory over St. Catharines (Ontario) Royal Imperial Collegiate on Aug. 25 and defeated Lancaster 34-14 on Sept. 1.
Mooney began its season with a 21-12 victory over Cleveland Heights on Aug. 25 but lost 31-13 to defending Division III state champion Akron Hoban on Sept. 1.
In Mooney's opener, senior quarterback Antonio Page (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) rushed for 208 yards and passed for 73 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to senior tight end Brennan Olesh (6-1, 215). Senior running backs Andre McCoy (5-11, 210) and Dan Simko (5-11, 230) both ran for a touchdown.
Simko, who rushed for nine scores last season, is among the top returnees for an offense that runs behind linemen Alex Maxin (6-3, 280) and Vinny Gentile (6-2, 240). Gentile has received college interest from Columbia and Dartmouth.
Defensively for Mooney, senior Brent Weaver (5-9, 165) had three interceptions and three forced fumbles a year ago in the secondary while Olesh and Page are key returnees at linebacker.
DeSales is hoping to run the ball as effectively as it did during its opener when Brian Asamoah, Jaylen Ball and Joey Velazquez led the way.
Wiggins also was impressed with the play of senior Will Mnich at defensive end in the opener.
"Having played Mooney in the past, they're very physical on offense and defense," Wiggins said. "They always run the football very well and they're extremely well-coached."
Aug. 21 -- New Albany Classic
Aug. 26 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North
Sept. 2 -- Westerville Classic at Westerville North
Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 16 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 23 -- Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central
Sept. 30 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North
Oct. 14 -- CCL meet at Otterbein
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- Hilliard Davidson at Thorn Apple
Sept. 9 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 11 -- Westerville South at Champions
Sept. 7 -- Columbus School for Girls at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 12 -- MOGGL at Village View
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Sept. 7 -- At Watterson
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 12 -- At Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 7 -- Hartley at Ohio Dominican
Sept. 9 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Invitational
*Sept. 12 -- Watterson at Park of Roses
Sept. 13 -- At Westland
*Sept. 7 -- At Hartley
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Watterson