The Groveport Madison High School cross country teams had two standout performances in the Division I district meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial.
Junior Peyton Baker of the boys team finished 16th in the district 2 race in a school-record 16 minutes, 31.4 seconds, and sophomore Melanie Torres of the girls team finished 14th in the district 1 race in 19:30.72, lowering her personal record from 21:17.
Both will represent Groveport in the regional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
"This was totally amazing," said Baker, who broke the record of 16:46 set by 2007 graduate and current assistant coach Alex Moore in the 2006 state meet. "Coach Moore ran over and gave me a big hug and I thought it was because I qualified for regional. That was my mindset, to just advance. I wasn't thinking about the record during the race or right at the end of it.
"When I crossed the line, I knew I was going to regional and I just yelled out the loudest scream of 'Yeah.' I'm still in shock that I set the record."
The boys team finished 14th (384 points) of 17 teams, behind champion Pickerington North (56), as the top five teams and top 20 runners advanced. Granville (141) finished fifth and Teays Valley's Ryan Fleming placed 20th (16:43.53) of 119 runners.
Also scoring for the Cruisers were Thomas Gullatt (79th, 18:18.42), Eli Jackson (88th, 18:33.45), Jason Pinkston (95th, 18:58.99) and Kahari Davis (106th, 19:42.7).
Baker wasn't sure his race strategy was going to work early on.
"My coaches told me to beware that the field was going to go out fast and for me not to go with them, but don't straggle," he said. "They wanted me to stay patient and maintain a good pace. At about the half-mile mark, I linked up with a Newark kid (Monte Street) I knew from league races and stuff. We were talking that it was crazy. We were around 30th and I told him, 'Dude, some of those guys shouldn't be up here. Who are these kids?' I was thinking I wasn't going to make it to regional.
"By the time we were closing in on the two-mile mark, we were around 20th. From there, it was all about placing because the others (had) dropped off. But there were some scary moments before then."
Torres is in her first year competing in cross country.
"Getting to regional is a big achievement for me," said Torres, who ran the 800 and 1,600 meters and was on the 3,200 relay for the Cruisers during track season last spring. "I've never been out of the 20s before, so this is a big shock for me and my teammates and (opponents). I think my team knew I could do this, but I just hadn't done it yet.
"Cross country is a dramatic change from track. I've had to adjust to the different terrain and the distance. I thought I trained well during the summer, but I definitely wasn't ready at the start of the season. I went out fast today and I probably passed five or six girls in the final 200 (meters). That last sprint took a lot out of me, but it was worth it."
The girls team placed eighth (239) of 11 teams, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (42). Dublin Coffman finished fifth (118) and Gahanna's Ari Redmond finished 20th (19:51.51) of 81 runners.
Also scoring for the Cruisers were Briana Chan (51st, 22:54.99), Victoria Williams (59th, 23:39.67), Gracia Musa (63rd, 24:07.64) and Cherub Clarke (66th, 24:28.81).
At regional, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to the state meet Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
"This will be my first race without teammates, so it's definitely going to be strange for me," Torres said. "My goal is to just go run my best."
Football team getting set for season finale
The football team will be trying to avoid a winless season when it plays Friday, Oct. 27, at New Albany.
The Eagles defeated Franklin Heights 55-36 on Oct. 20 to improve to 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Capital, while the Cruisers gave league-leading Big Walnut all it could handle before losing 14-13 on Oct. 20 to fall to 0-9 overall and 0-4 in the league.
New Albany needs a win and a Big Walnut loss to Canal Winchester to share the league title. The Eagles were projected to be fifth in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings entering Week 10. The top eight teams qualify in each region for the playoffs.
New Albany rolled up 475 total yards against Franklin Heights as Alex Cox rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns and Micah Burton added 137 yards rushing and three scores.
Quarterback Jalin Jackson returned from an injury to throw for 147 yards on 7-for-8 passing. Jackson was injured early in a 14-0 loss to Big Walnut on Oct. 20, when the Eagles were shut out for the first time since Oct. 28, 2005.
Groveport led Big Walnut 7-0 at halftime and 13-7 in the third quarter, but Golden Eagles quarterback Tyler Ronk scored on a 1-yard run late in the quarter and Tyler Shuster added the extra point to finish the scoring.
Boys soccer team falls to Cardinals
The boys soccer team's season ended Oct. 21 when it lost to fourth-seeded and host St. Charles 7-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament to finish 10-4-4.
Seeded 26th of 47 teams, Groveport beat 28th-seeded Pickerington Central 1-0 in the first round Oct. 18 at home behind a goal by Austin Snyder.
Injuries hindered girls soccer team
The girls soccer team lost to 36th-seeded Logan 8-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16 at home.
Groveport, which was seeded 32nd of 42 teams, finished 6-11 overall and went 1-4 in the OCC-Capital Division to place fifth, behind Canal Winchester (4-0-1), New Albany (3-0-2), Big Walnut (3-1-1) and Newark (2-3) and ahead of Franklin Heights (0-5).
"I think that with the new coaches, it was a little bit of an adjustment for the team," first-year coach Mark Coyer said "We had a few injuries to very important players. I was hoping for more wins, but our team improved throughout and that is most important."
The Cruisers will lose eight seniors in Katelynne Boggs (stopper), Sarah Callahan (defender), Hannah Campbell (defender), Emily Ebner (defender), Ashlyn Harper (midfielder), Madelyn Jordan (midfielder), Jordan McElravey (forward) and Chloe Sikora (goalkeeper).
McElravey was named first-team all-league and Sikora was honorable mention all-league.
Campbell and Harper were injured early in the season and did not return.
Among the expected returnees are junior Ashley Stauffer (sweeper), sophomores Alissa Blackstone (goalie), Emilie Sithixay (forward) and Sydney Wemter (midfielder) and freshmen Madelyne Brown (defender) and Lyla Khanthachack (midfielder).
Sithixay was lost for the season with an ACL injury.
Khanthachack was second-team all-league and Stauffer was special mention all-league.
"I was pleased with the girls and cannot wait to continue to get better," Coyer said. "Next year I think the freshmen that started for us will be better prepared mentally and physically. I also think there are girls on the junior high team that will hopefully push for playing time."
Season ends for volleyball team
The girls volleyball team lost to 39th-seeded Licking Heights 25-4, 25-16, 25-17 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16 at home.
Groveport, which was seeded 37th of 50 teams, finished 8-15 overall and went 2-8 in the OCC-Capital to place fifth, behind Big Walnut (10-0), Canal Winchester (8-2) and New Albany and Newark (both 5-5) and ahead of Franklin Heights (0-10).
"Our season was affected by inconsistent play and injuries," coach Matt White said. "I am encouraged that we will be returning multiple starters and have replacements in key areas, but we're going to miss our seniors, Carsyn Saunders and Morgan Whiting. Carsyn has been our libero for four years. Her leadership and passing ability will be greatly missed. Morgan was a two-year setter and right-side hitter."
Saunders was named second-team all-league.
Expected returnees include juniors Kiara Brinkley (setter), Skilyn Jacks (defensive specialist), Laynie Maynard (setter), Reina Rhone (right-side hitter) and Madison Young (middle hitter/outside hitter) and sophomores Lizarely Martinez (outside hitter), Mackenzie Maddy (defensive specialist) and Macie Sporleder (middle hitter).
Brinkley was honorable mention all-league.