Coming within eight points of a perfect score to begin the season was well and good with Olentangy High School boys cross country coach Ken Whalen, but more importantly to him, the Braves continued to show him how competitive the lineup could be this year.

Seniors Caden Ehrhardt, Afton Freeman, Sam Holt and Carter Schaefer and juniors Chandler Moyer and Mikey Worboy return from last year's top seven and guided the team to wins in each of its first two invitationals, encouraging Whalen that the Braves could advance to the Division I regional meet and maybe challenge for their first state berth.

"We have 12 returning lettermen and a lot of competition," the fourth-year coach said, counting the addition of sophomore Johan Rosgaard, who lettered at Village Academy as a freshman. "Carter and Sam are definitely the top two on the team. They work hard and they are focused as seniors, but even more than that, we have guys right now who are a minute ahead of where they were last year at this time. That is very promising."

Olentangy opened Aug. 25 by repeating as champion in the Mount Vernon Kiwanis John Fair Invitational at Kenyon College. Schaefer was first (16 minutes, 22.9 seconds), followed by Holt in second (16:23.8) and Worboy in third (16:52.6) as the Braves scored 23 points, winning the eight-team race ahead of runner-up Teays Valley (61).

Also scoring were Moyer (fifth, 17:18.7) and Freeman (12th, 18:04.6).

The girls completed the sweep, scoring 40 points to edge the runner-up Vikings (43) in a six-team field. Senior Lex Brookshire was first (19:19), followed by classmates Alice Pozzi (sixth, 21:06), Gracie James (ninth, 21:46), Ashleigh Niklaus (11th, 21:54) and Aleah Clow (13th, 21:58.6).

Brookshire and James are the only returning runners from the top seven of last year's team that finished fourth at district and 11th at regional. Junior Meghan Boggess and sophomore Katie Balthaser, who usually were in the top four, now run at Berlin.

"We really haven't talked about team goals. We really just want to keep working at getting better and doing things the right way," 16th-year coach Dwight Dewese said. "I have been very pleased with the girls' effort both this summer and in August. We had a number of girls that did a great job of getting in their summer mileage. The seniors are showing great leadership by setting a superb example for the younger athletes to follow."

According to Dewese, other expected contributors include seniors Bela Gil, Miranda Miller and Monica Williams, juniors Kylie Roberts and Hannah Moore, sophomore Jessica Morris and freshman Sophia Pasquale.

The boys also won the Division I race of the Westerville Classic at Westerville North on Sept. 1, scoring 42 points and edging Worthington Kilbourne (42) on the sixth-runner tiebreaker. Schaefer finished second in 16:37.74.

The girls were third (111) of 11 teams as Upper Arlington won (57).

Other boys varsity runners include senior Max Carner, junior Patrick Schirtzinger and sophomores Kole Brookshire, Kyle Selby and Preston Smith. Whalen said freshmen Luke Galloway, Taye Gonzalez, Nate Karr and David Moore also might make an impact this year.

The girls finished third (62) in last year's OCC-Buckeye Division meet behind champion Liberty (36), and the boys were fourth (103) behind the first-place Patriots (31).

Golfers wrapping up league schedules

The boys golf team enters the fourth and final round of the OCC-Buckeye tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Darby Creek tied for third in the league.

Led by Cameron Casto's round of 81, Olentangy finished fourth (330) in the third round Aug. 28 at Denison Golf Club, behind Orange (318), Westerville Central (319) and Liberty (321) and ahead of Westerville North (396). The Braves are 6-6 in the league, tied for third with Central behind Liberty (10-2) and Orange (8-4) and ahead of North (0-12).

Also scoring Aug. 28 were Bennett Zeitner (82), Garrett Leckrone (83) and Chas Martin (84).

The girls team is 6-9 in the OCC-Buckeye, fourth behind Orange (14-1), Liberty (13-2) and Central (9-6) and ahead of North (2-13) and Westerville South (1-14), entering the final round Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Cooks Creek.

In the third round Aug. 29 at Royal American, Olentangy shot a 414 to place fourth behind Orange (329), Liberty (360) and Central (398) and ahead of North (496) and South (497).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 25 -- Mount Vernon Kiwanis John Fair Invitational at Kenyon College

Sept. 1 -- Westerville Classic at Westerville North

Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 15 -- Galion Festival at Amann's Reservoir Park

Sept. 29 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club

Oct. 6 -- Marion Harding Invitational

Oct. 13 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson

Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

FIELD HOCKEY

*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

*Sept. 12 -- At Olentangy Berlin

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Darby Creek

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 10 -- Delaware and Worthington Kilbourne at Oakhaven

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Cooks Creek

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Bexley

Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 6 -- At Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

Sept. 11 -- At Darby

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 6 -- At Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 12 -- Home vs. New Albany

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 6 -- At Westerville North

Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll

Sept. 11 -- At Dublin Scioto

*League contest