The Bexley High School girls cross country team is making a return trip to the Division II state meet, and senior Molly Fagin hopes to make the most of it after an injury-plagued season.
Fagin will be competing for the third time at state, which is Saturday, Nov. 4, at National Trail Raceway. Now that she's close to being fully healthy, she's aiming for a second all-state performance.
"I was a little disappointed because I wanted to finish in the top few (places at regional), but I qualified (for state) and that's what matters," said Fagin, who finished 10th (19 minutes, 28.26 seconds) on Oct. 28 at Pickerington North. "I have had a strained IT (iliotibial) band in my left leg, so I had to take a couple weeks off and just swim, but it's getting better. Hopefully, I can give it my all (this) week."
Fagin placed 17th at state last season in 18:51.6 as the Lions reached the meet as a team for the first time since 2010 and finished 15th (335 points) of 20 teams behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (88). Fagin earned all-state honors by finishing in the top 25.
As a sophomore, Fagin finished 83rd (20:20.9) at state.
"I know what I need to do from being there for the past two years," Fagin said. "That experience gives me confidence going back into state."
The Lions finished fourth (188) at regional behind champion Fairfield Union (83) as the top six teams advanced to state.
"You're not sure how teams will run in weather like this when it's muddy, cold and windy," coach Eric Acton said. "We had our game plan and we stuck to it. It was a team effort, that's for sure."
Also competing were Maria Steinke (29th, 20:11.36), Karleigh Place (62nd, 21:05.71), Ally Grieshop (63rd, 21:08.11), Hannah Hayden (77th, 21:26.14), Annie Politi (84th, 21:33.97) and Leah Tadese (116th, 22:36.72).
The boys team finished ninth (306) behind champion Thornville Sheridan (58) as the top seven teams and top 28 individuals qualified for state. Warsaw River View was seventh with 284 points.
Miles Feinknopf (36th, 17:13.6) led the Lions, followed by Theo Snowdon (48th, 17:29.13), Sam Warner (72nd, 17:45.77), Andrew Rogers (108th, 18:20.65), Dylan Abel (130th, 18:41.48), Zach Shapiro (143rd, 19:00.06) and Spencer Stevenson (151st, 19:22.31).
Girls soccer team ousted by top seed
The girls soccer team finished 7-9-2 overall, losing at top-seeded Granville 7-1 on Oct. 24 in a Division II district semifinal.
Junior midfielder Emma Dressel scored for the eighth-seeded Lions, and junior goalkeeper Makayla Burzynski had 17 saves.
Bexley opened the postseason with two road upsets, beating sixth-seeded Licking Valley 4-1 on Oct. 16 and fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 3-0 on Oct. 19.
"The team improved immensely over the season by going from a kick-and-run team to a strong possession-based group," first-year coach Ryan Leven said. "The girls successfully transitioned from a traditional 4-3-3 formation to the more modern European formations, often times deploying multiple formations per game."
The Lions finished fifth (3-2-2) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind Columbus Academy (6-0-1), Worthington Christian (4-1-2), Grandview (4-2-1) and Wellington (4-3) and ahead of Zanesville Rosecrans (3-4), London (1-6) and Whitehall (0-7).
Forward Maggie Bunker (second-team all-league) had nine goals and 13 assists to lead a six-player senior class.
Sophomore forward Morgan Bowers (first-team all-district and all-league) led the Lions in scoring with 16 goals and seven assists. Burzynski (third-team all-district, second-team all-league) had 135 saves.
Dressel (second-team all-league) had six goals and five assists, and sophomore forward Claire Heilman added three goals and two assists.
"In the coming seasons, the girls will be able to translate the new formations and style of play and continue to build the program," Leven said. "They will continue to push the pass-first mentality and work to build from the back and push forward as a unit and not as individuals."
Boys soccer team falls in district semi
The boys soccer team lost to fourth-seeded Academy 3-2 in a Division II district semifinal Oct. 25 at home.
Senior midfielder James Powers had two goals for the second-seeded Lions, who finished 11-3-3 overall. Sophomore goalie Ben Ziegler had five saves.
Bexley, which defeated 19th-seeded London 4-0 in the second round Oct. 21 at home, had its best start since 1997 by winning its first nine games. It was 9-0-2 before losing to Academy 2-1 on Oct. 4 in MSL-Ohio play.
The Lions finished third (2-1-2) in the league behind Academy (3-0-2) and Grandview (2-0-3) and ahead of Whitehall (2-2-1), Worthington Christian (1-2-2) and London (0-5).
Forward Grant Heilman (team-high 6 assists), forward Zander Hirsch (second-team all-league), forward Max Meyer, Powers (first-team all-district and all-league; team-high 16 goals), defender Isaac Roe (honorable mention all-league) and midfielder Owen Rupp (second-team all-district, first-team all-league) were seniors.
"The seniors all had great heart and desire, and they lived for this team all season," second-year coach Jay Scott said. "It's really disappointing because they have carried the weight for us. Each one has been in the program four years and they were a great group of kids to coach."
Ziegler (third-team all-district, first-team all-league) had 85 saves.
Junior midfielder Noah Gosnell (second-team all-league) and junior defender Grant Halliday (honorable mention all-league) also are expected to return.
"We still have strong goalkeeping and strong defense," Scott said. "We have a good core coming back from this varsity team and others coming up."
Football season ends with loss to Ready
The football team closed its season by losing to Ready 35-7 on Oct. 26 at Fortress Obetz.
The Lions finished 0-10 for the first time in program history. That comes one season after finishing the regular season 10-0 for the first time.
Bexley's only score against Ready came on a 14-yard pass from Anthony Welsh to Tyler Mitchell with 2 seconds left in the first half. Bexley trailed 21-7 at halftime.
"(The players) gave us everything we practiced all week and we executed well, but we have to put the ball in the end zone," coach Nathan Castorena said. "We make one little mistake and we can't finish the drive."
Welsh was 9-for-22 passing for 102 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and rushed for 44 yards on 12 carries. Mitchell had four receptions for 32 yards.
Girls volleyball team wins four matches
The girls volleyball team finished 4-18 overall for the second consecutive season.
The 13th-seeded Lions lost at ninth-seeded Caledonia River Valley 25-14, 25-17, 25-16 on Oct. 16 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
Bexley finished fifth (2-8) in the MSL-Ohio behind London (10-0), Worthington Christian (8-2), Whitehall (6-4) and Academy (3-7) and ahead of Grandview (1-9).
Amanda Frey, a setter and outside hitter, was the team's lone senior and was second-team all-league.
Key players expected to return include junior defensive specialist Sierra Rogers (honorable mention all-league) and juniors Savannah Schwallie (outside hitter), Kaia Woodford (libero) and Josie Zox (middle hitter).