Much of the season for the Reynoldsburg High School girls cross country team was about laying the groundwork for what it hopes to accomplish.
The latest step in the Raiders' maturation came Oct. 28 when freshman Avril Moyer competed in the Division I regional meet at Pickerington North.
Moyer, who placed 20th in 19 minutes, 58.98 seconds in the district 3 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, ran 20:38.86 on a muddy course at North to place 72nd as the top 20 individuals advanced to state.
"As a freshman, the experience of being in the regional is obviously invaluable," first-year coach Bill Crane said. "She wasn't sure what to expect, but I think it'll be a great thing for her that she got there."
Moyer believes the regional meet provided an instructional tool that should be beneficial to her in the future.
"It was pretty fun (competing at regional)," she said. "I couldn't believe how competitive it was. I want to be a little bit more competitive and catch more people at the end (in future races)."
Moyer and fellow freshman Kasey Lichtner made an immediate impact this fall.
In the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 14 at Lancaster, Lichtner finished 13th (20:48.17) and Moyer was 18th (21:23.99) as the Raiders were fourth (106) behind Gahanna (26), Lancaster (47) and Pickerington Central (92) and ahead of North (118) and Grove City (149).
Then in the 18-team district meet, Reynoldsburg was 11th (280) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (25) as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to regional.
Moyer was followed at district by senior Chanel Boykins (51st, 21:09.4), junior Natalie Castello (62nd, 21:24.01), Lichtner (72nd, 21:47.15), senior Annalese Roach (75th, 21:56.17) and freshmen Kristin Sheets (102nd, 23:11.25) and Rachel Watkins (120th, 24:52.74).
Senior Abby Leslein was another key contributor.
"They took a lot of big steps forward this year," Crane said. "Hopefully we can take the next step next year. The girls team was at least in the discussion to make it to the regional as a team."
Boys runners to return most of lineup
Of the seven competitors the boys cross country team had in the OCC-Ohio meet, the only senior was Jared Dye, who turned in Reynoldsburg's fifth-best time.
The Raiders scored 166 points to place behind North (36), Lancaster (48), Central (69), Gahanna (88) and Grove City (151) and then were 14th (392) in the 16-team district 3 meet behind champion Olentangy Liberty (49).
"The boys team showed a lot of improvement," Crane said.
Sophomore Nate Russell was the team's No. 1 runner (37th, 18:28.85) in the league meet but did not compete at district as freshman Mars Davis led the way with a 68th-place finish (17:50.02).
Also scoring at district were Dye (78th, 18:08.68), juniors Andy Young (80th, 18:10.27) and Brody Swisher (82nd, 18:17.15) and freshman Dominic Sabo (89th, 18:40.82). Senior Andy Crider and sophomore Grant Boone also competed.
"We're going to put in a lot more time in the offseason," Crane said. "Nate Russell, Andy Young, Mars Davis and Brody Swisher will be our top four, and they're going to be very competitive with each other."
Football team wins final game of season
The football team did its part Oct. 27 to keep its Division I, Region 3 playoff hopes alive by beating Lancaster 42-34, but it ended up ninth as the top eight teams qualified for the postseason.
The Raiders finished 7-3 overall and with 21.40 points. Eighth-seeded Hilliard Darby went 7-3 and finished with 21.45 points.
One additional win by any of the teams Reynoldsburg beat might have gotten it into the playoffs.
"With the number of starters we have coming back, it would have been beneficial for us to make the playoffs this year," coach Buddy White said. "(We were hoping) Lexington (would) beat Thomas Worthington, (Millersburg) West Holmes (would) beat Mount Vernon or Central Crossing (would) beat Marysville. If one of those happened, we'd have had enough points. But we really played well."
The Raiders built a 35-19 lead over Lancaster and held off a late rally to finish third (3-2) in the OCC-Ohio behind Central (5-0) and North (4-1).
Justin Henry completed 11 of 17 passes for 227 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for a score. Princeton Hoskins rushed for 77 yards and one score, Shon Strickland had two receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown and Mershawn Rice had five catches for 149 yards and two scores.
Dezman Cooper had 12.5 tackles, Ke'Shun Moore had 11.5 tackles and Jay Amburgey had 2.5 tackles for loss.