After an illness prevented her from reaching the Division I state cross country meet last fall, Westerville Central High School senior McKenna Fry entered this season looking to bounce back from that disappointment.
Fry earned a state berth, but said similar effects from an iron deficiency that she battled last season contributed to her 58th-place finish Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway. Fry, who finished the race in 19 minutes, 14.3 seconds, was one of 173 runners.
"I'm not too happy," she said. "Last year I had the iron deficiency and this year it came back. It wasn't as low as last year, but it definitely has been bothering me so I've been taking it easy, but today I just went hard. You can train with low iron, but you can't race with it. You have to be really healthy."
Fry had to withdraw from the regional meet last season with about 200 meters remaining after contending for a state berth for most of the race.
As a sophomore, she finished 41st (19:02.2) at state.
Coach Ryan Borland was pleased with Fry's effort.
"Her goal was to be top 20 and she's a capable kid," Borland said. "We had to go out and go after it and she did, and it didn't work out today. We've been battling (the iron deficiency) again a little bit, but we tried to be conservative just to get to this point and today we had nothing to save for, so go for it and see what we got."
Fry earned the state berth by placing 13th (18:51.11) of 129 runners in the regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North. Seniors Sydney Kapral and Chloe Ey finished 40th (19:54.3) and 56th (20:18.81), respectively, and Central finished 10th (268) of 17 teams behind champion Granville (63).
Fry, Kapral and Ey led the Warhawks to a sixth-place finish (139) behind champion Granville (43) in the district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial. Fry was ninth of 116 runners in 19:12.65, followed by Kapral (11th, 19:20.6) and Ey (20th, 19:48.57).
Central finished fourth (83) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Oct. 14 at Hilliard Darby behind Olentangy Liberty (36), Olentangy Orange (56) and Olentangy (62) and ahead of Westerville North (134) and Westerville South (174). Fry was fourth of 56 runners in 19:21.73, followed by Kapral (sixth, 19:27.12) and Ey (14th, 20:22.2).
Key runners eligible to return include junior Mya Delaney, sophomores Kayla Jones, Ellie Mallon and Remington Schultz and freshman Ashley Hockstok.
"I'm really pleased," Borland said. "We had our best finish at regional (and) we made our fifth straight regional meet, which is an accomplishment, and we won some invitationals this year."
Smith leads boys cross country team
Senior Austin Smith led the boys cross country team, finishing 93rd (17:42.4) of 129 runners at regional after placing 17th (16:41.7) of 115 runners in the district 1 meet.
The Warhawks finished seventh (219) of 16 teams at district behind champion Hilliard Davidson (45).
Also competing were senior Sam Reyes (41st, 17:23.74), junior Jacob Owens (46th, 17:32.93), sophomore Josh South (58th, 17:53.35), seniors Brant Henson (60th, 17:59.32) and Shane Hendricks (74th, 18:25.04) and sophomore Jeremy Gellner (75th, 18:25.84).
Central finished fifth (115) in the OCC-Buckeye meet behind Liberty (31), Orange (46), South (84) and Olentangy (103) and ahead of North (172). Smith was second (16:44) of 59 runners.
"Overall, I really liked the progress we made as a team even though our place in the conference didn't reflect our improvement," coach Jason Loughman said.
"Everybody improved pretty significantly from last year, so they've worked really hard and they've improved their times. We were happy for their accomplishments."
Volleyball team shows progress
Girls volleyball coach Gerard Iquina was pleased with his team's development as it finished 11-13 overall.
Central lost to third-seeded DeSales 25-16, 25-16, 25-10 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 25 at Franklin Heights.
After a first-round bye, the 23rd-seeded Warhawks defeated 17th-seeded Upper Arlington 25-16, 25-16, 25-10 in the second round Oct. 19.
"It was a great season overall with a rough first half going 3-8," Iquina said. "We then went 7-4 for the second half, ending the regular season strong. It was great to see the team grow not only physically but also mentally throughout the season."
Central should return a solid nucleus led by junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Avrey Schumacher, who was named first-team all-OCC-Buckeye and honorable mention all-district.
Sophomore outside hitter Madison Saunders had a team-high 171 kills and was second-team all-league.
Sophomore setter Hayle Tillman had 297 assists and 42 aces and was honorable mention all-league.
Junior libero Mallory Mahoney had 313 digs.
Others key players eligible to return include juniors Jordan Plas (setter) and Allison Saas (setter), sophomores Danielle Ingram (middle hitter) and Lauryn Stubbs (middle hitter) and freshman Riley Kindall (outside hitter).
Central went 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish fourth behind co-champions Liberty and Orange (both 9-1) and Olentangy (6-4) and ahead of North and South (both 1-9).