Kane Breuer of the New Albany High School boys cross country team had plenty of company in the Division I regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North, and he couldn't get rid of them.
A senior making his first regional appearance, Breuer finished 44th of 129 runners in 16 minutes, 57.29 seconds. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 4, at National Trail Raceway.
"Usually if I am able to surge I am able to switch packs, but everybody went with me. Everybody was fighting. It was incredible to be a part of," Breuer said. "It was extremely muddy. Since this was the last race (of six on the day), the course was beat up but you can't make excuses. I have never been a part of something like this."
Because of various injuries, Breuer never had run in a district meet until this year, let alone a regional.
"He ran hard; it was a good overall performance, but he couldn't get out quite fast enough and couldn't find any open space," coach John Galbraith said. "I never once saw him where he wasn't in a group of eight to 10 kids."
Breuer is the only runner to graduate from a top seven that otherwise consisted entirely of underclassmen. Others in that group included sophomores Pedro Faerman and Eric Von Zastrow and freshmen Dylan McDevitt, Ethan McNichols, Victor Orsinelli and Colin Swincicki.
Nonetheless, the boys finished second in the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 14 at Lancaster with 35 points, behind Newark (31) and ahead of Canal Winchester (79), Big Walnut (102) and Groveport (121). Breuer won the individual title in 17:23.32.
In the district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, Breuer finished 17th (16:33.64) and the Eagles were seventh (183) of 17 teams behind champion Pickerington North (56).
The girls team graduates a majority of its top seven from its league championship team, including usual lead runner Alyssa Painter. Painter was New Albany's top runner in its first nine races, with the only exception being the district 3 meet, where she was second behind classmate Catherine Ryan.
The Eagles won their second consecutive OCC-Capital title, scoring 40 points to edge Big Walnut (46), Canal Winchester (56), Newark (109) and Groveport (126). At district, New Albany finished 10th (234) of 18 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (25).
Expected returnees include junior Monica Vale, sophomore Peyton Spychalski and freshman Lexi Vale.
"What a great group to coach. (They were) so team-oriented, positive and coachable," girls coach Herb Gregory said. "We grew up a lot as individuals and a program this year. A year ago, we had some very good days but we were up and down. This year, we raced much more consistently due to being stronger mentally."
Girls soccer team falls in semifinal
The girls soccer team's first loss in more than six weeks ended its season.
Seeded 12th for the 42-team Division I district tournament, New Albany fell 3-2 at seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby in a semifinal Oct. 25.
Senior forward Sophie Matt and senior midfielder Ellen Weikert scored for the Eagles, who finished 10-2-6 overall. Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Conley made 15 saves.
New Albany's other loss was on Sept. 7, 3-1 to Olentangy.
While the Eagles averaged 3.9 goals per game, they relied on a defense that recorded 10 shutouts and gave up a total of 16 goals.
Junior midfielder Lydia Cornelius scored a team-high 17 goals. Senior midfielder Mia Thatcher had 10 goals and senior forward Lindsey Townsend, an Ohio University commit, added nine.
New Albany went 3-0-2 in the OCC-Capital to finish second behind Canal Winchester (4-0-1) and ahead of Big Walnut (3-1-1), Newark (2-3), Groveport (1-4) and Franklin Heights (0-5).
The Eagles began the tournament with a 3-1 win over 13th-seeded Upper Arlington in a second-round game Oct. 19 at Westerville Central.
Other expected returnees include juniors Erin Carson (defender), Kennedy Gabor (defender), Ariel Hess (midfielder) and Dulcie Heyes (midfielder), sophomore Scarlett Tischer (defender) and freshmen Kelis Brown (midfielder) and Morgan Wiest (midfielder). Wiest had five goals and Heyes added four.
Boys soccer team had 'good season'
Boys soccer coach Johnny Ulry hopes the adversity his team faced this year helps it pursue a third consecutive OCC-Capital championship in 2018.
New Albany went 13-4 overall and 5-0 in the league and earned the fifth seed for the 47-team Division I district tournament, but lost its postseason opener 2-1 to 27th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a second-round game Oct. 21 at Westerville Central.
"In the end, it was a good season for us," Ulry said. "We lost a lot of great players from (2016) and a lot of guys this year, including seniors, got their first chance to play at the varsity level. ... We were resilient, we found ways to score goals and didn't allow any of our poor fortune be an excuse to lose or not play well. It was the whole 'dig deeper' mentality that we adopted this season and for the most part we did that."
New Albany's regular-season losses were to Marysville (1-0 on Aug. 18), Dublin Jerome (1-0 on Sept. 16) and St. Charles (3-2 on Oct. 5). St. Charles was last year's Division I state runner-up, and the Celtics and Cardinals were the third and fourth seeds, respectively, in the district.
The Eagles went 5-0 in the OCC-Capital, finishing ahead of Canal Winchester (3-1-1), Big Walnut (3-2), Franklin Heights (2-3), Groveport (1-3-1) and Newark (0-5).
Expected returnees include juniors Noah Boffo (forward), Drew Fischer (forward) and Parker Selby (goalie) and sophomore Thomas Shneker (forward).
"All in all, I am proud of what we have accomplished," Ulry said. "Our program continues to grow to an elite level and gaining more and more respect each and every season."
Flecher named boys track coach
Greg Flecher swam in college, but track and field has been a longtime love.
Now, Flecher will get to oversee an entire program as he was named boys track coach Oct. 23.
Flecher, a 2002 Brunswick graduate who went on to swim at Ohio University, has been an assistant coach at the high school and middle school levels in New Albany for the past eight years.
Flecher replaces Crickett Anderson, who resigned in June after four seasons to become New Albany's assistant athletics director.
"Running is very much a mental sport. You get out of it what you put into it and nothing builds confidence like knowing you're prepared," said Flecher, who teaches biology at the high school. "(There is) nothing greater than seeing athletes accomplish their goals."
Flecher competed in cross country and track at Brunswick and said he originally intended to run and swim in college before focusing on the latter.