With wobbly legs, Eleanor Richardson hugged her teammates on the Columbus School for Girls cross country team following a cold, damp Division III regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North.
The junior represented the Unicorns at regional and finished 91st of 133 runners in 23 minutes, 7.76 seconds, collapsing just steps across the finishing line. Nearly 30 minutes later, she was still feeling the effects of the race.
"I think for the conditions, I did as well as I could. I left it all on the course and did my best," Richardson said. "I think I knew how cold it would be and I did my best to prepare for it, but it's hard to prepare for the snow and rain like this.
"I think I had a really good season. From being a freshman to this year, this was my best year and part of that had to do with the girls that I ran with. They really pushed me every day and I'm thankful for their help getting better."
The top 24 individuals at regional advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 4, at National Trail Raceway.
"Eleanor got through the first mile where we wanted, but then I think the cold started to have an effect on her," first-year coach Patrick Helgerman said. "She was starting to drop back at that point. She doesn't have a lot of body fat on her, and she said her hands were hurting really bad and that the cold got to her."
Richardson qualified for regional by placing 10th (season-best 20:22.49) of 75 runners in the district 1 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional.
The Unicorns finished ninth (203 points) in the 11-team district, behind regional-qualifiers Fredericktown (46), Centerburg (68), Grandview (98) and Fairfield Christian (105).
Juniors Sarah O'Dell (41st, 23:10.91) and Elizabeth Tierney (43rd, 23:13.85), sophomores Katie Pawlik (54th, 24:00.58) and Sabrina Morse (55th, 24:06.87), senior Charlotte Falk (58th, 24:21.19) and freshman Amanda Barok (65th, 25:20.66) also ran at district.
The Unicorns finished fourth (90) in the CCL meet, behind DeSales (37), Hartley (45) and Watterson (52) and ahead of Ready (144).
"As a whole, we lost several seniors from last year and anytime you get a new coach, it takes some time for them to figure out what you want and to buy into what you are doing," Helgerman said. "They developed slowly, but we had a good, strong finish and that gives us something to build on for next year."
Volleyball team falls in district semifinal
The volleyball team won its first postseason match in five years and ended a nine-year winless drought in the CCL this season.
The eighth-seeded Unicorns opened the Division III district tournament by defeating seventh-seeded and host Worthington Christian 25-14, 25-23, 25-18 in a second-round match Oct. 21, marking their first postseason win since 2012 when they defeated Johnstown in five games in the opening round.
CSG lost to third-seeded Marion Pleasant 25-18, 25-20, 25-17 in a district semifinal Oct. 25 at Buckeye Valley to finish 15-9 overall.
The Unicorns went 2-6 in the CCL to finish fourth behind DeSales (8-0) and Hartley and Watterson (both 5-3) and ahead of Ready (0-8). They swept Ready, winning 17-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-16 on Sept. 7 and 13-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-17, 15-10 on Sept. 26.
Prior to this season, CSG hadn't won a CCL match since 2008, when it finished 2-8 in the league. Between 2009-16, the Unicorns went 0-56 in CCL play.
"It was a great season and I felt like our work ethic improved as the season went on," first-year coach Clint Gentry said. "We were disciplined and it only took the girls one practice to catch on to what we wanted from them."
Senior outside hitter/back-row player Lauren Carmon was named honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league.
The Unicorns are losing four seniors in Carmon (203 kills, 22 blocks, 133 digs, team-leading 48 aces), setter Fiona McAlearney (team-leading 497 assists, 47 aces), right-side hitter Suchita Paladugu and outside hitter Fredaye Wilkes.
Sophomore middle hitter Maryanne Boyle (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) had a team-leading 51 blocks along with 181 kills and 36 aces.
Other key players expected to return are juniors Haley Kuproski (outside hitter/back row; team-leading 208 kills, 17 blocks, 36 aces, 168 digs) and Hailey Kurth (libero; 74 digs), sophomore Peyton Jackson (defensive specialist; 27 aces) and freshman Bella Sloan (middle hitter; 17 blocks).
"The seniors will definitely be a loss. They were all very coachable and did everything we asked of them," Gentry said. "We're really looking forward to next year. We're retaining a lot of talent and expect to have another successful season."
Season ends for field hockey team
The field hockey team finished 3-11-3 overall but made strides over the course of the season.
The 13th-seeded Unicorns ended the season with a 2-0 loss to fifth-seeded Watterson on Oct. 19 in the second round of the 17-team district tournament.
"We had a lot of improvement over the season," fifth-year coach Jessica Schirner said. "For instance, the first time we played Watterson, we lost 6-0 (on Sept. 5), but in the tournament, we held them to only two goals.
"Toward the end of the season, we really came together as a team. We were much more polished and I'm excited to see where those new players are in the future."
CSG went 1-5-2 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division to place seventh, behind Granville (8-0), Columbus Academy (7-1), Watterson (6-2), Worthington Kilbourne (5-3), Bexley (4-4) and New Albany (2-5-1) and ahead of Hartley (1-6-1) and Lancaster (0-8).
The Unicorns are losing six seniors in midfielder/forward Lily Berger (2 goals), forward Sidney Flynn (2 goals), defenders Katherine Gumina and Lillian Kuntz, midfielder Maura Hackett (2 goals) and defender/midfielder Brinley Zieg (1 goal).
Key players expected to return include junior forwards Hannah Lonser (1 goal) and Katie Wagenbrenner (2 goals), freshman goalkeeper Olivia Barry-Wilson (78 saves) and freshman forward Kayla Badyna (2 goals).