A girls running program that produced a second consecutive Division I state-meet berth in cross country and a state team championship in track and field was among the biggest reasons that Gahanna Lincoln High School earned the Ralph Young All-Sports Award for the fourth time in five years.

The Lions had five first-place finishes and four runner-up finishes in the 16 sports in which all of the OCC-Ohio Division's six schools competed during the 2017-18 school year.

The All-Sports Award, in its ninth year, goes to the school in each of the OCC's five divisions that performs the best in the conference's common sports over the course of the school year. In the OCC-Ohio, six points were awarded for finishing first, five for placing second, four for finishing third, and so on.

Gahanna totaled 73 points to finish ahead of Pickerington North (70), Pickerington Central (65.5), Lancaster (53.5), Grove City (37) and Reynoldsburg (37).

"It's great to be bringing the Ralph Young (award) back to Gahanna after closely losing out to Pickerington North last year," athletics director Dustin Cullen said. "Although we're proud of our student-athletes and coaches for winning enough games for this to happen, we're even more proud of the way they won with class."

Gahanna won outright league championships in boys golf and girls cross country in the fall, boys swimming and diving in the winter and girls track during the spring. The Lions also shared the league title in boys tennis this spring.

Gahanna was league runner-up in girls volleyball and girls soccer during the fall, girls swimming in the winter and boys track in the spring.

With Jake Simone and Drew Bailey both earning first-team all-league honors, the boys golf team won its first league championship.

The girls golf team, led by Division I state qualifier Kayla Davis, also earned a share of its league title but not all of the schools in the OCC-Ohio competed in that sport.

The girls cross country team captured its sixth league championship in seven seasons as Claire Steigerwald finished first in the OCC-Ohio meet and Natalie Clay was league runner-up.

In boys swimming, Gahanna won its first league title since 2008 as Johnny Belli led the way by winning the 100-yard butterfly.

The girls bowling also won a league title on its way to the state championship, but not all of the schools in the OCC-Ohio competed in the sport.

"Our department has two main goals," Cullen said. "(We want) to win games and to teach life lessons through sports. We're very fortunate to have coaches that work as hard as they do to make those two things happen and student-athletes who are coachable."

Steigerwald also played a key role for the girls track team, winning the 1,600 meters and the 3,200 as the Lions captured their sixth consecutive league title.

Also winning league titles were Amariah Thomas in the 100, Madison Martinez in the 800, the 1,600 relay and the 3,200 relay.

The boys tennis team, featuring Colin Jordan at first singles, shared the league title with Pickerington Central and Pickerington North.

"It's been so amazing to be a part of a winning team and it makes you become a better athlete yourself because you're surrounded by people who have the same mindset and goals and are willing to work hard for them," Steigerwald said. "People around the school know we're good so it's always fun to get support from my teachers and fellow students, and it's a super nice feeling when they want to know about how our track meets went and make sure to ask me in class. ... I've loved my time being a part of Gahanna athletics, and they're memories I'll keep forever."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek