One of the many traditions of the Grove City High School cross country program is a record board displayed in the commons at the school.

An update to the board is due, as senior Evan Whitaker will see his name move to the top after establishing a program record in the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 9 at Watkins Memorial.

Whitaker's effort of 16 minutes, 16.8 seconds surpassed John Pacak's mark of 16:24, which he set in 1998. Whitaker's previous best time was 16:32.

"It's going to be outstanding to see myself as the fastest (cross country runner) to walk the halls of Grove City," Whitaker said. "It's just an overwhelming feeling."

Whitaker said he has attempted to contact Pacak with little luck, but would like to talk to him someday.

"I would say thank you for inspiring me to want to get better every day at practice and I looked at your record every chance I could and said, 'I want to be that good,' " Whitaker said.

Whitaker finished 11th of 218 runners at Watkins Memorial as the boys team placed 20th (519 points) of 32 teams behind champion Olentangy Liberty (93).

Whitaker continued his strong season by finishing first (17:16.72) of 57 runners in the Shin Splint Invitational on Sept. 16 at Westland. He was Grove City's lone entrant in the meet.

"I like the opportunity to stay fresh and I'm always ready to race," Whitaker said.

Westland coach Josh Barkeloo said he was more than willing to allow Whitaker to compete in the race despite him being the lone Grove City runner because there is a close-knit relationship in the area racing community.

"He's a really good kid," Barkeloo said. "It seems like every year we have a couple kids in the district that come up and talk to the other South-Western coaches and talk race strategy. They're excited about running and they want to talk about running with people that they can tell love it. This year, Evan is that guy."

Last season, Whitaker finished 43rd (17:36.68) in the Division I, district 3 meet. He expects to better that performance this season and challenge for his first state berth.

"If I keep getting better every race like I have been this season then I definitely have a good shot of placing well at state," Whitaker said.

He's looking forward to returning to Watkins Memorial for the district meet Oct. 21.

"That's my favorite course," he said. "I knew if I was going for the record I was going to do it at that course. I was feeling ready. I knew I was going to have some tough competition because Watkins is where district is and the schools in the area want to run there before district. I knew I had to be on my 'A' game that day."

Coach Joe Dollins is waiting until after the season to update the board because he anticipates further changes among the leaders.

He hopes Whitaker can better his time during the postseason.

"Evan is racing extremely well," Dollins said. "He really put the hard work in over the summer and it's starting to pay off now. As long as he continues to stay healthy and keeps practicing to his fullest potential each week, with two regular-season races to go he's going to be in top shape to perform very well at the OCC championship and then get ready for district."

The Greyhounds will compete in the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic on Saturday, Sept. 30, at London Country Club and the Hilliard Darby Dash on Oct. 7 before the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 14 at Lancaster.

Dollins also expects senior Maylene Renninger and sophomore Lindsay Donaldson to move up the board on the girls side.

Renninger's 20:02, established last season, is second behind Sydney Smith's 19:21. Smith graduated earlier this year and is running at Otterbein.

Donaldson turned in a career-best 21:28 this season and is eighth on the list.

Girls volleyball team
looking to improve

Girls volleyball coach Alan Pham was looking for improvement as his team continued the second half of the season.

The Greyhounds were 9-6 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Lancaster on Sept. 26.

Grove City lost a league match at Pickerington North 25-21, 25-12, 25-16 on Sept. 19.

"We're struggling a bit to maintain our momentum right now," Pham said. "We usually start out a match competitively but lose steam due to some crucial mistakes. Kids are still growing and learning how to handle the mistakes when we make them. (It's) just a matter of mental fortitude at this point.

"We're seeing some good things in the last week or so and I do expect things to turn the corner as we progress toward the end of the regular season."

Boys soccer team
hopes to rebound

The boys soccer team looked to bounce back from losses to Delaware (1-0 on Sept. 14) and Westerville Central (2-1 on Sept. 21) and ties against Reynoldsburg (2-all on Sept. 19) and Groveport (1-all on Sept. 23) when it played Gahanna on Sept. 26.

The Greyhounds entered the game 5-2-3 overall and 1-0-1 in the OCC-Ohio.

Will Isaac and Nick Isaac scored against Reynoldsburg, and Will Isaac scored against Central and Groveport.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 30 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club

BOYS GOLF

Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.

GIRLS GOLF

Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional at Royal American. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 28 -- At Darby

*Oct. 3 -- At Pickerington Central

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Grandview

Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Greyhounds lost to the Raiders 25-23, 25-18, 27-25 on Sept. 7.

*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Gahanna. The Greyhounds lost to the Lions 26-24, 25-19, 25-12 on Sept. 12.

*League contest