The Columbus Academy boys and girls cross country teams enter the second half of the season with state meet aspirations.

The boys team was ranked sixth behind top-ranked Leesburg Fairfield in the Division III state poll released Sept. 13.

The Vikings are led by three runners who competed at state last season in seniors Chris Heermann, Nick Robie and Nick Watson.

Competing in the Division II race of the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 9 at Watkins Memorial, Robie was eighth (16 minutes, 34.9 seconds) and Watson was 18th (16:44.6) of 343 runners as Academy finished fourth (121) of 28 teams behind champion Heath (85).

"Nick Robie and Nick Watson are giving us a great one-two punch," coach Denny Hammond said. "They're both friends, and it's nice when you can have two up there (leading the pack) instead of just one. They've really worked hard. They had a great summer of training and they're great leaders."

Other runners in the starting lineup have been juniors Liam McCann and Abhi Ramesh, sophomore Charlie Sabgir and freshman Luke Nester.

Juniors Marcus Grewal and Robbie Simpson and freshmen Jake Huddleston and Calvin Wade also are contributing.

"We've been working hard all summer and we have a real focus, but at the same time, we're still having fun and enjoying running," Robie said. "We're coming along and it's good to see that. It's great to have someone (like Watson) push you, and it's great to have someone to work with during races."

The girls team was not ranked in last week's state poll, but Hammond said the Vikings have been receiving solid performances.

Sophomore Annalise Grammel, who also is a standout on the girls soccer team, finished first (19:00.6) of 174 runners in the McGowan Invitational.

"Annalise Grammel is having a great season so far and she made all-state last year as a freshman, (finishing 15th at state in 18:59)," Hammond said. "I expect big things from her this year."

Freshman Regan Cornelius, a member of the field hockey team, was third (19:57.4) in the McGowan Invitational and junior Maddie Tuckerman, who also plays on the girls tennis team, finished 33rd (22:34.5).

Academy placed sixth (211) of 20 teams at Watkins Memorial behind champion Centerburg (81).

Other key runners have been seniors Brianna Dragin and Yas Salon, junior Ryan Milbourne, sophomore Rachel Raque and freshman Bea Sull.

Field hockey team
bounces back

The field hockey team rebounded from a 1-0 loss at Granville on Sept. 6 to defeat Hartley 5-0 on Sept. 12 and Olentangy Liberty 6-1 on Sept. 14.

Coach Anne Horton called the win over Liberty the team's most complete effort of the season.

Academy scored three goals late in the first half to take a 4-1 lead. Angel Watkins scored two goals, and Mercedes Crestanello, Samantha Kass, Callista Popp and Kiersten Thomassey each had one.

Goalkeeper Alex Phelps had five saves.

"We've been working on making sure we're ready to play from the start," Horton said. "This game was our best performance this season, so I'm pleased with that. Liberty is one of the better teams in the (area), so I was pleased that we could come out and show who we are and what we're about."

The Vikings were 7-1 overall before playing Thomas Worthington on Sept. 19 and improved to 3-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division with a 1-0 win over Columbus School for Girls on Sept. 18. Regan Cornelius scored in the second half.

Academy is looking to atone for last season’s finish when it lost to Thomas 3-1 in a district final. The Vikings won the COFHL-East at 7-0 and finished 17-1-1 overall.

"We're going after it this year," Horton said. "As great as the season was last year, (with) great leadership (and) great chemistry, the kids feel as if the season was never finished, so they have come out with a chip on their shoulder. They're getting after it now."

Girls volleyball team
seeks winning record

The girls volleyball team was 3-5 overall and 0-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Grandview on Sept. 18.

Academy lost several key players to graduation and has just one senior in Khloe Dubenion.

Other players back from last season include juniors Maddie McAfee, Kayla Podgurski and Camille Reeves and sophomores Noelle Boltz, Sophia Freytag and Mabry Nichols.

"We lost six seniors last year, but have a lot of young talent coming up," coach Heather Gepper said. "We're looking forward to watching them grow and get better throughout the season."

Football team
to face Whitehall

The football team will look to rebound from its first loss of the season when it plays host to Whitehall on Friday, Sept. 22.

The teams have split the last six meetings, averaging a combined 58.5 points per game.

The Vikings fell to 3-1 overall and 0-1 in the MSL-Ohio with a 38-28 loss at London on Sept. 15.

Whitehall won its second consecutive game, defeating visiting Hamilton Township 40-27 on Sept. 15 to improve to 2-2.

"We have to get back to work. That's our only choice," coach Robin Miller said. "It doesn't get any easier from here. Whitehall is loaded. They're much better than their record indicates. They have a ton of misdirection, they have size up front (and) they have speed everywhere. The quarterback (Raymell Byrd) can do it all. He's a very dangerous runner (and) passer. They're scary."

Against Hamilton Township, Byrd rushed for 264 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 179 yards and two scores.

Rasheed Muhammad added 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 27 carries.

K.J. Price rushed for 340 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries to lead London past Academy.

"It's never fun to lose your first game, but the kids played hard," Miller said. "We were a little outmatched. That's a good team. They have a big line and that back is impressive."

For Academy, Herman Moultrie has rushed for a team-high 479 yards and six touchdowns on 59 carries, and Matt Saling has completed 50 of 96 passes for 475 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Dorrian Moultrie has 23 catches for 247 yards and four touchdowns.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus Academy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 23 -- Saturday Night Lights at Centerville

FIELD HOCKEY

*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Watterson

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 23 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Scioto Reserve

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 23 -- At Fairbanks

Sept. 25 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 23 -- At Fairbanks

Sept. 25 -- Home vs. West Jefferson

*Sept. 27 -- At Wellington

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 25 -- At Columbus School for Girls

Sept. 27 -- Watterson at Park of Roses

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Grove City Christian

*League contest