The Hilliard Darby High School girls cross country team had to replace three of its top six runners from last season.
Among the graduation losses were Division I state qualifier Kayla Mayer, who placed 94th of 178 runners last year at National Trail Raceway in 19 minutes, 40.8 seconds.
First-year coach Jon Agriesti welcomed three runners back who competed at regional last season in senior Abby Cannon, junior Erin Cowen and sophomore Daniella Santos. In addition, the Panthers added a quality runner in senior Anita Perie, who played volleyball in past seasons.
"I believe we have three potential runners to make the state championship individually in Daniella, Anita and Abby," Agriesti said. "These three should also be all-conference, all-district and all-region, with Daniella all-state.
"Daniella narrowly missed advancing to state last year, Abby is an experienced senior who is leading our team by example and Anita is a first-year runner who came to us from volleyball and looks to be strong."
Agriesti coached at Bradley from 2009-13, serving as boys and girls coach in 2009 and as boys coach from 2010-13. He was an assistant coach for the Ohio State men's team from 2014 through last year.
Last season, the Panthers advanced to regional and finished 10th (247), behind champion Gahanna (97), as the top five teams advanced to state.
At regional, Santos was 29th (20:31.82), followed by Cannon (52nd, 20:57.67) and Cowan (81st, 21:57.64).
The Panthers finished second (68) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet last year behind Thomas Worthington (34).
Also expected to be key contributors are junior Zarsha Khuhro and sophomores Madison Murphy and Ariana Parquette.
"Overall, this is a young team," Agriesti said. "They are responding well to training, but we need to continue to embrace the grind that cross country is and look to improve this team to an elite program, where it was in the mid-2000s. We want to contend for a conference title, qualify for the regionals as a team and gain experience for the future."
In the Hot Summer Bash on Sept. 2 at Davidson, the Panthers finished seventh (167) of nine teams, behind champion Centerville (35). Santos placed sixth (18:41.61) to lead Darby, followed by Perie (29th, 19:58.22), Cannon (47th, 21:03.02), Cowen (57th, 21:33.44) and Parquette (61st, 21:45.08).
Fox now coaching
Matthew Fox is the new coach for the boys cross country team.
He is no stranger to the program, having been an assistant the past five years during which he also has been the boys track and field coach.
The Panthers have returned four of their seven runners who competed in the Division I, district 1 meet last season, led by seniors Dylan Newport and Josh Baldridge, who scored.
Juniors Eric Lowery and Owen Martin also were in the lineup as Darby finished sixth (147) behind champion Thomas (31), falling one spot shy of advancing to regional. Teays Valley (118) was fifth.
"Josh has been a varsity runner since his first year, adding valuable experience and leadership to the team," Fox said. "He is the only runner we have who has ever run at state. Dylan has been one of the most consistent and solid runners for the program, improving his times and efforts each season.
"Owen and Eric established themselves as varsity runners during their sophomore seasons. The team will rely on their growth, attitude and newfound leadership position to reach our potential."
Ellis Farson, a 2017 graduate, was an individual regional qualifier last year, placing 44th (17:11.23) of 117 runners.
Senior Colin Wagner was in the lineup in the OCC-Cardinal meet when the Panthers finished fourth (99) behind champion Thomas (27).
Also expected to compete for spots in the lineup are sophomores Tyler Hessenauer and Balaji Kurapati and freshman Sean Carney.
"We're young, but the boys are hungry," Fox said. "We'll likely start out slow and continue to develop and grow into a contender over the course of the year. The team goal is to qualify for the state meet and compete at our highest level possible. We will look to improve every week as individuals and as a team."
In the Hot Summer Bash, the Panthers placed eighth (167) of 10 teams behind champion Centerville (51). Newport led Darby (18th, 16:46.59), followed by Martin (23rd, 16:57.26), Carney (41st, 17:28.21), Kurapati (42nd, 17:30.32) and Lowery (43rd, 17:28.21).
Soccer teams out
to strong starts
The boys and girls soccer teams both entered this week without a loss.
The boys team was 3-0-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Sept. 5. The Panthers played Davidson to a scoreless tie on Aug. 31 as junior goalkeeper Nick Hermosilla made two saves. Darby outshot the Wildcats 4-2.
Jason Fleischman scored in a 1-0 win over Delaware on Aug. 29 in the Panthers' league opener.
The girls team was 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before facing Kilbourne on Sept. 5.
Darby defeated Davidson 3-1 on Aug. 31 as junior goalkeeper Emily Schneck made five saves.
The Panthers beat Delaware 4-0 in their league opener Aug. 29 as Sophia Roberts, Hannah Knobloch, Abbey Spencer and Caitlyn Spencer all scored.
Aug. 19 -- OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway
Sept. 2 -- Hot Summer Bash at Davidson
Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 16 -- Galion Cross Country Festival at Amann's Reservoir
Sept. 23 -- Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 30 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at home
Oct. 7 -- Darby Dash at home
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Cardinal at Davidson
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 9 -- Grove City Invitational at Hickory Hills
Sept. 13 -- OCC-Cardinal at Clover Valley
Sept. 7 -- Marysville at Rolling Meadows
Sept. 11 -- Canal Winchester and Gahanna at Kyber Run
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Cooks Creek
Sept. 7 -- At Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 12 -- At Dublin Scioto
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Bradley
Sept. 12 -- At Westerville Central
Sept. 13 -- At Grove City
*Sept. 7 -- At Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Bradley