After missing the latter part of last season with ankle and Achilles injuries, Westerville South High School senior cross country runner Nathan Ware entered this season motivated to atone for that lost time.
He did that Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, finishing 11th (16 minutes, 22.9 seconds) of 119 runners in the Division I, district 2 meet to earn a berth to the regional Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional.
'It's so amazing," Ware said. "It's a great feeling. The gratitude after not being able to run is so much greater."
At regional, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to state Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
"The last two weeks have been overwhelmingly rewarding for Nathan, who had to shut it down last year and follow his rehab to the letter so diligently," coach Jimmy Gaul said. "He took the whole track season off to get himself right and to come back with the goal in mind of having a great senior cross country season and being back to where he was as a sophomore."
As a sophomore, Ware finished 52nd (16:52.4) at regional.
At district, South was eighth (208) of 17 teams behind champion North (56).
Cole Koehler was 33rd (17:07.19), followed by Malachi Rispress (45th, 17:24.64), Anthony Vilardo (57th, 17:44.47), Donovan Slattery (62nd, 17:51.46), Liam Allbritton (67th, 17:55.02) and Isaac Combs (74th, 18:05.27).
"We knew it was going to be a challenge, but for them to go out there and lay their best efforts on the line in the biggest race of the season, to go after their goals with such reckless abandon is something," Gaul said. "I know it stings to come up short and to see that eighth place instead of the fifth place in the team results, but I couldn't be more proud of them."
The girls finished 12th (360) of 16 teams in the district 2 meet behind champion Gran-ville (43) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional.
Ellie Bouton was 45th (21:18.4) of 116 runners, followed by Izzy Kotik (67th, 22:12.85), Taylor Hughes (77th, 22:59.45), Tasha Carr (88th, 24:21.22), Karina Deere (89th, 24:26.91), Trinity Trimble (96th, 25:00.12) and Abigail Williams (97th, 25:08.74).
Boys soccer team reaches semifinal
The sixth-seeded boys soccer team was 9-4-4 before playing 15th-seeded Canal Winchester in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 25.
The winner plays top-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 19th-seeded Olentangy Orange in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a neutral site to be determined. South defeated Orange 3-0 on Sept. 26 and lost to Liberty 2-1 on Sept. 19.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal on a date and at a neutral site to be determined.
After a first-round bye, the Wildcats advanced with a 2-1 overtime win against 21st-seeded Logan on Oct. 21 at home as Mohamed Abusaiid scored the game-winner. Chip McGrew also scored and goalkeeper Russell Montemarano had nine saves.
Girls soccer team enjoys 'good season'
With no seniors on the roster, the future looks bright for the girls soccer team.
South finished 5-8-4 overall with a 6-0 loss at 15th-seeded Watterson in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19.
The 22nd-seeded Wildcats had a first-round bye.
"There were a couple games that we lost that I'm pretty sure we could have won had we gotten a lucky bounce one time, but overall it was a good season," coach Mark Wise said.
Junior forward Deja Edwards led the Wildcats in scoring with 14 goals and one assist. She missed the final two games with a concussion.
Junior midfielder Grace Livingston and sophomore midfielder Mae Riggs also missed the final two games with concussions.
Junior goalkeeper Jenna Villacres finished with 112 saves.
Other players eligible to return include juniors Meghan Bame (defender), Delanie Daugherty (defender), Payton Joy Glassco (forward), Claire Guinan (midfielder), Christina Himes (defender), Allison Ricker (midfielder) and Anisa Thaci and sophomores Elizabeth Blais (forward), Aidan Christie (midfielder), Kayla Kozik (midfielder), Savannah Roush (defender) Emma Secrest (midfielder), Samantha Varney (defender) and Sunny Weisenberger (defender).
South went 1-3-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to tie Westerville Central for fifth behind Orange (4-1), Olentangy (2-1-2), Liberty (2-2-1) and Westerville North (2-2-1).
Wise said a 2-1 win over North on Oct. 3 and a 2-all tie against Liberty on Sept. 19 were highlights of the season.
"My team is resilient -- they play hard, they have a lot of heart -- but we're still a little off with our executions to be able to play at the next level," Wise said. "I'm hopeful that will be better next year. We should be a pretty good team next year."
Volleyball team falls to Orange
The girls volleyball team finished 7-17 overall under first-year coach Veronica Brownlee.
Seeded 41st for the district tournament, the Wildcats lost at fourth-seeded Orange 25-16, 25-10, 25-16 in the second round Oct. 18.
South defeated 45th-seeded Northland 25-7, 25-8, 25-9 in the first round Oct. 16 at home.
"The volleyball program is filled with amazingly talented, intelligent and beautiful young ladies," Brownlee said. "They were a joy to work with and I am looking forward to building a competitive volleyball program at South."
Senior middle hitter Gabby Thompson was named honorable mention all-league after leading the Wildcats in kills (154) and blocks (40).
Junior setter Peyton Guice had a team-high 100 assists.
The Wildcats, who lose seven seniors, went 1-9 in the OCC-Buckeye to tie North for fifth behind co-champions Liberty and Orange (both 9-1), Olentangy (6-4) and Central (4-6).
Others eligible to return include junior Maria Hays (outside hitter) and sophomores Gabby Hutcherson (middle hitter) and Anyssa Jones (outside hitter).