The Groveport Madison High School boys and girls cross country teams both were represented in the Division I regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North.

Junior Peyton Baker of the boys team placed 43rd of 129 runners in 16 minutes, 57.22 seconds, while sophomore Melanie Torres of the girls team finished 70th of 129 runners in 20:36.59.

In both races, the top 20 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 4, at National Trail Raceway. Dublin Coffman's Alex Dediu (16:25.82) was the final state qualifier in the boys race and Marysville's Jacquelyn Witt (19:11.96) earned the final state berth in the girls race.

"They have had breakout seasons," coach Vincent Gay said of Baker and Torres. "Peyton has been incredible and Melanie had a very strong finish and second half of her season, especially for being a relative newcomer to the sport.

"I believe both teams ended the season very well. Most athletes were able to come in at the goal times the coaching staff and I set for them at the beginning of the year. I believe the Cruiser distance program is on the rebound and will begin to become very competitive in our league and district in the next couple of years."

Baker advanced to regional by placing 16th in the district 2 race in a school-record 16:31.4 on Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, while Torres advanced by finishing 14th in the district 1 race in 19:30.72, lowering her personal record from 21:17.

The boys team finished 14th (384 points) of 17 teams at district, behind champion Pickerington North (56), as the top five teams and top 20 runners advanced.

Also scoring for the Cruisers were senior Thomas Gullatt (79th, 18:18.42) and freshmen Eli Jackson (88th, 18:33.45), Jason Pinkston (95th, 18:58.99) and Kahari Davis (106th, 19:42.7).

The girls team placed eighth (239) of 11 teams at district, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (42).

Also scoring were sophomore Briana Chan (51st, 22:54.99), junior Victoria Williams (59th, 23:39.67), freshman Gracia Musa (63rd, 24:07.64) and sophomore Cherub Clarke (66th, 24:28.81).

"I think the future of the boys and girls teams looks very bright," Gay said. "We are led by several young athletes, like Eli Jackson, Jason Pinkston and Melanie Torres, who will be ready to take the next step. I am also expecting Gracia Musa and Kahari Davis to really excel next year after they have had a year of experience. We will also be bringing on some strong athletes from the middle school program who I expect to come in and compete with the veterans right away.

"Losing Thomas Gullat will hurt us a little next year. He was the only senior on either team and he had an extremely productive year for his first season of cross country."

In the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 14 at Lancaster, the boys team finished fifth (121) behind Newark (31), New Albany (35), Canal Winchester (79) and Big Walnut (102). Baker placed fifth (17:43.2) to make first-team all-league.

The girls team also placed fifth (126) in the league meet, behind New Albany (40), Big Walnut (46), Canal Winchester (56) and Newark (109). Torres finished 14th (22:31.53) to make second-team all-league.

Franklin Heights did not have a team score in the boys or girls league meets.

Football team falls in season finale

The football team closed the season Oct. 27 with a 27-20 loss at New Albany to finish 0-10 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Capital.

The Eagles finished 4-1 in the OCC-Capital to share the league title with Big Walnut, a team Groveport lost to 14-13 on Oct. 20.

The Cruisers were outscored 41-33 by the co-champions in the final two weeks after losing to Newark 14-0 on Oct. 13.

Against New Albany, Groveport scored 14 points in the second quarter and led 20-10 at halftime and 20-13 through three quarters.

Quarterback Colin Rice was 12-for-22 passing for 122 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with Jaylin Chaney on a pair of 7-yard touchdown passes and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Izayah Aekins.

Wayne Blackshear added 62 yards rushing on 20 carries for Groveport, which had 17 first downs, two fewer than New Albany.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles tied the score at 20 on a 26-yard touchdown run by Michiah Burton and scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run by Jalin Jackson.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek