With all but three starters returning from a team that won its second consecutive state championship last season, the Thomas Worthington High School field hockey team appears to be in good position to make another postseason run.

"I'm looking forward to another great year," coach Terri Simonetti Frost said. "We have depth and options. All 13 players that are returning are key players and strong leaders. They know the system and expectations and have now played together for a solid two years."

Among the returnees are three all-state performers in senior Paige Lampman (defender) and juniors Sarah Charley (attacker) and Isabelle Perese (goalkeeper).

Last season, the Cardinals defeated Shaker Heights 3-0 in the state final at Upper Arlington to capture their fifth state title. They finished 18-3 overall and went 8-0 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division, ahead of runner-up Olentangy Liberty (7-1).

Thomas lost to Columbus Academy, Watterson and Hudson all by a 1-0 score.

The Cardinals will play all three of those opponents again this season: Academy on Sept. 19 at home, Hudson on Sept. 30 at home and Watterson on Oct. 9 at home.

Thomas also will face last year's other three state semifinalists. The Cardinals play Saturday, Sept. 9, at Cincinnati Ursuline Academy, Sept. 15 at Shaker Heights and Sept. 27 at home against Liberty.

Charley recorded team highs in goals (17) and assists (21) last year, while Lampman had five assists and led the defense in front of Perese, who allowed only seven goals and made 93 saves. All three were first-team all-league.

Also returning are senior Maya McDaniel (attacker) and junior Rachel Rinaldi (midfielder), both of whom were second-team all-league. McDaniel had 14 goals and 16 assists and Rinaldi had eight goals and eight assists.

Senior Emily Huber (midfielder/attacker) had four goals and six assists and was honorable mention all-league.

Also back are seniors Marie Ashline (attacker) and Emma Johnson (attacker) and juniors Althea Chan (midfielder), Izzy Flint-Gonzales (defender), Reilly Ford (defender), Julia Scharff (attacker/defender) and Anneliese Sinclair (attacker).

Completing the roster are seniors Katherine Miller (goalie) and Camryn Patton (attacker), junior Madison Simeone (defender), sophomore Anna Giametta (midfielder) and freshmen Bella Avila (attacker), Mollie Estepp (midfielder/defender) and Shoshanah Holub (midfielder/attacker).

The Cardinals are 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. They defeated league foes Olentangy (8-0 on Aug. 21) and Dublin Coffman (7-0 on Aug. 28) before beating Toledo St. Ursula Academy (9-0 on Sept. 1).

'Ghosts' to lead boys
cross country team

The boys cross country team has returned its top two runners in seniors Arjun Jha and Andy Payne after finishing fourth in the Division I state meet last season at National Trail Raceway.

"Arjun and Andy are the two best runners in program history," fourth-year coach Bill Darling said. "It has been a tremendous blessing to have them both here at the same time. Both have held the school record at some point, both earned all-state credentials last year in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and both are in the top 10 returning times (in the state). They are a formidable pair to have leading off your lineup.

"We call them 'the ghosts,' because their job is go up front and disappear, to score next to nothing. That's the way they can help the team the most, and it is a challenge they have always accepted."

Last year's state placement was the Cardinals' highest since placing third in 1973. Thomas totaled 172 points to place behind Solon (79), Hudson (156) and Cincinnati St. Xavier (163) in the 20-team field.

Jha was seventh of 186 runners in 15 minutes, 18.5 seconds and Payne finished 15th (15:33.6).

The Cardinals, who have qualified for state as a team the past three seasons, lost their Nos. 3-6 runners to graduation and are working to fill those spots.

"After our top two, it's basically an open field," Darling said. "It's all going to be about who put in the most work. I'm expecting big contributions from kids like seniors Isaac Wise and Noah Yake, juniors Ryan Gimeson, Morgan Chavez and Michael Corbett and sophomores Zubin Jha, Jack Caine and Cade Clerico."

In the Pickerington Classic on Aug. 26 at Pickerington North, the Cardinals tied Pickerington Central (100) for second behind the host Panthers (85), as Payne was runner-up (15:35.77) and Arjun Jha was sixth (15:54.08).

They were followed by Wise (22nd, 17:05.39), Zubin Jha (25th, 17:09.77), Gimeson (45th, 17:38.5), Yake (46th, 17:42.18) and Chavez (55th, 17:49.86).

The Cardinals then finished first in the Duals at the DeWine's on Sept. 2.

Napoleons pacing
girls runners

The girls cross country team has returned four runners who competed in the Division I state meet last year, including its frontrunner in junior Gia Napoleon, who finished 55th (19:11.8) of 178 runners.

The Cardinals finished 15th (336), behind champion Centerville (120).

"Gia was the state champion in the 800 meters (in track) last spring and just missed the state meet record by .43 seconds. She also earned All-American honors in the national championships in North Carolina," 21st-year coach Andy Cox said.

Also back after competing at state are junior Tori Banks and sophomores Lydia Miller and Cassidy Shaver. Sophomore Abby Moulton is a returning letterwinner who is still recovering from a foot injury last year that kept her out of the postseason lineup. Senior Anna Lisa also earned a letter last year.

"We have a great work ethic and talent and we want to make it to state, but (even with returning experience) we're still a young team," Cox said.

Freshman Carina Napoleon is expected to fit into the lineup behind her sister. Others competing for positions are junior Meredith Gnezda, sophomore Sydney Cropper and freshman Morgan Edwards.

"Carina is currently running second and Morgan is seventh and both had outstanding middle school careers," Cox said.

The Cardinals finished third (88) behind Olentangy Liberty (54) and Gahanna (76) in the Pickerington Classic, as Gia Napoleon was third (18:34.32) and Carina Napoleon was eighth (19:05.82).

They were followed by Banks (18th, 20:14.06), Miller (20th, 20:18.35), Shaver (39th, 20:56.59), Edwards (49th, 21:18.11) and junior Olivia Burrell (52nd, 21:28.36).

Thomas finished first in the Duals at the DeWine's, with Gia Napoleon winning in a personal-record 18:20.

Girls volleyball team
set for better season

The girls volleyball team is hoping the experience it gained a year ago pays dividends this season.

The Cardinals lost just two players to graduation after finishing 8-15 overall and 0-12 in the OCC-Cardinal last season.

"All of our players worked very hard in the offseason to get stronger, faster and more disciplined in their position," second-year coach Emily Oren said. "Our hitters are hitting harder than they have in the past, our setters are moving faster to the ball and our defense is getting a lot of touches on defensive balls and serve-receive."

The Cardinals returned seniors Regan Morgan (outside hitter) and Sydney Summey (outside hitter) and juniors Becca Hobbs (defensive specialist), Layne Keegan (setter), Gabrielle Ramsay (outside hitter) and Brie Wight (middle hitter).

Newcomers include senior Emma Watts (setter) and juniors Meredith Althouse (defensive specialist/libero), Abby Phillips (middle hitter) and Cindy Jackson (opposite hitter).

"One of our strengths is that we have multiple players who can play more than one position," said Oren, whose team was 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the league after losing to Delaware 21-25, 18-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-9 on Aug. 29. "That makes our team very versatile and able to switch things up when we need to. We are working on the mental side of the game. We are striving to focus on what is coming rather than what has happened in the past.

"We are looking for ways to improve ourselves and striving to make those improvements. One of our goals is to focus on the team rather than as individuals. Our motto is 'We, not me.' "

The Cardinals opened 3-0, beating Marion Harding 25-17, 25-8, 25-15 on Aug. 19, Bradley 26-24, 25-19, 21-25, 20-25, 15-9 on Aug. 22 and Jerome 25-14, 25-18, 25-20 on Aug. 24.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 19 -- OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway

Aug. 26 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North

Sept. 2 -- Duals at the DeWine's in Cedarville

Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 16 -- Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational at Louisville (Ky.)

Sept. 23 -- Saturday Night Lights at Centerville

Sept. 30 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 7 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at home

Oct. 15 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Hilliard Davidson

FIELD HOCKEY

*Aug. 21 -- vs. Olentangy

*Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Coffman

Sept. 1 -- vs. Toledo St. Ursula Academy

Sept. 9 -- at Cincinnati Ursuline Academy

*Sept. 11 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

Sept. 15 -- at Shaker Heights

Sept. 16 -- at Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown

Sept. 19 -- vs. Columbus Academy

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

*Sept. 25 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 30 -- vs. Hudson

*Oct. 4 -- at Upper Arlington

Oct. 6 -- at Ann Arbor (Michigan) Pioneer

Oct. 9 -- vs. Watterson

Oct. 12 -- at Kilbourne

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 19 -- vs. Marion Harding

*Aug. 22 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*Aug. 24 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Aug. 29 -- vs. Delaware

*Sept. 5 -- at Dublin Scioto

*Sept. 7 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

Sept. 9 -- at Canal Winchester with Watkins Memorial

*Sept. 12 -- at Kilbourne

*Sept. 14 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*Sept. 19 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

Sept. 21 -- at Gahanna

Sept. 23 -- vs. Westerville North

*Sept. 26 -- at Delaware

Sept. 27 -- at Centennial

Sept. 30 -- at Logan

*Oct. 3 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

*Oct. 5 -- at Hilliard Darby

Oct. 7 -- at Pickerington Central with Mount Vernon

*Oct. 10 -- vs. Kilbourne

Oct. 12 -- vs. Buckeye Valley

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and boys water polo teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 9 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 11 -- Steve Godvin Invitational at Zanesville Country Club

Sept. 13 -- OCC-Cardinal at Clover Valley

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 11 -- Hilliard Bradley at Mentel Memorial

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Cooks Creek

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Westerville North

*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Delaware

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Big Walnut

*Sept. 12 -- At Delaware

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 7 -- At Kilbourne

Sept. 9 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament

Sept. 11 -- Centennial at Antrim Park

Sept. 13 -- At Village Academy

BOYS WATER POLO

Sept. 9 -- Ohio Cup at home

Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

*League contest