Coach Andy Cox thinks his Thomas Worthington High School girls cross country team is on schedule to have a big season.

The Cardinals proved a point to their coach by winning the Wooster Invitational on Sept. 8.

"It's been so hot and training has been difficult, but we said after the (OHSAA Preseason Invitational on Aug. 18 at National Trail Raceway), that we need to have a check-up at Wooster to see where we are," Cox said. "Although the times are relative depending on the course and weather, I was really happy to see our top-three runners close their gap. They're just nine seconds apart. We're also seeing progress from No. 4 through No. 7."

At Wooster, the Cardinals swept the top three spots. Carina Napoleon won in 18 minutes, 42.6 seconds and was followed by Gia Napoleon (18:49.5) and Lydia Miller (18:51.9). Tori Banks placed 10th (20:09.6) and Morgan Edwards was 17th (20:58.8) of 97 runners as the Cardinals (33) finished well ahead of runner-up Wadsworth (51).

"This is what we absolutely wanted to see in this race," Cox said. "Tori is making progress, and it was a nice surprise to see Morgan move up to our fifth finisher. She dropped 1:18 from the Dual at the DeWine's (on Sept. 1). She's getting into form and becoming more confident and will help us with our depth."

Cassidy Shaver finished 29th (21:26.8) at Wooster and Michelina Guerra was 36th (21:53.3).

"Cassidy is our usual fifth runner who has been outstanding and she's going to catch fire in the next two weeks," Cox said. "Michelina is a freshman who broke 22 minutes already, so she's heading in the right direction. I was so happy with what we showed and we're starting to jell as a team."

This was the Cardinals' first competition in years at Wooster, as Cox and boys coach Bill Darling switched the schedule with an eye toward the Division I district meet on Oct. 20.

"The district is at Hilliard Darby this season and we already run that course, so instead of going to the McGowan Invitational (Sept. 8) to compete on that course, we thought we'd go to Wooster and see some different teams," Cox said. "We're going to the Michigan State Invitational on Friday (Sept. 14). In recent years, we've been going to (the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational in Louisville, Kentucky) this weekend, but it's always hot and humid, so we figured we'd try something up north."

The boys team placed third (107) of 15 teams at Wooster, behind Hudson (28) and Wooster (103).

Zubin Jha (fifth, 16:25.4) and Nate Johnson (sixth, 16:28.2) led the way for the Cardinals, followed by Jack Caine (24th, 17:24.2), Victor Nash (31st, 17:36.3) and Michael Corbett (41st, 17:53.9).

Boys water polo team gaining experience

After winning the state championship last season by beating St. Charles 15-13 in overtime in Mason, the boys water polo team is in a rebuilding phase.

But the Cardinals can point to last year's senior class in terms of following a blueprint.

"What they did last year was the culmination of a process where a talented sophomore class set a goal, worked hard and things came together for them," said fourth-year coach Rick Yurich, who also coaches the Kilbourne boys team. "This team has no seniors, six juniors, 10 sophomores and some freshmen. We'll develop them and hopefully be competitive with the top teams by the end of this season, and the future looks bright."

The Cardinals went 1-2 in the home Ohio Cup on Sept. 8 and 9 and will take a 3-10-1 record into the Cincinnati St. Xavier Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 15. They finished 32-9 last season.

"They're relying on three junior captains in Derek Taylor, Evers Brandy and Yashar Bakhshaeisarand and sophomore goalie Ashton Roderer," Yurich said. "They've got just one or two guys who got any significant time in the pool last year. But it's a great group and they're just starting to find their roles."

Also on the team are juniors Jacob Carver, Jack Cochran and Samuel Steele, sophomores Riley Bootes, Jack Coe, Benjamin Greeson, Luke Jackson, Eli Short, Grant Simione, Kevin St. Pierre, Colin Terrien and Chance Young and freshmen Blake Ament, David Louisin and A.J. Rinaldi.

In the Ohio Cup, the Cardinals lost to Chicago Park 13-2, defeated Milford 10-4 and lost to Napoleon 15-8.

Holub, Shank back for girls water polo team

The girls water polo team will take a 5-9 record into the home Ohio Cup on Saturday, Sept. 15, and Sunday, Sept. 16.

"Thomas is light on experience, with few returning key players from last season," said fourth-year coach Olivia Miranda, who also coaches the Kilbourne girls team. "But we're beginning to see those younger girls step up into bigger roles. I think this team has the potential to upset high-seeded teams at the end of the season."

The Cardinals finished 17-12-1 last year. Among the returnees are senior captains Bianca Crank and Maddie Holub and juniors Tatum Shank and Audrey Taylor. Holub made first-team all-state last year and Shank was honorable mention all-state.

Sophomore Izzy Thomas is the goalkeeper.

Other contributors are senior Julia Nelson, juniors Leah Lindemeyer and Emma Wince and sophomores Katie Bozoti, Annalise Eisenstein, Lauren Justice, Nataliya Kallergis, Maia Lin, Sloan Phallen and Vivian Strange.

"I think Izzy Thomas has been outstanding in goal," Miranda said. "I am just excited to see this team continue to grow and work together. I really see a lot of potential in these girls."

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 14 -- Spartan Invitational at Michigan State

FIELD HOCKEY

Sept. 15 -- At Hudson

*Sept. 18 -- At Olentangy Liberty

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 18 -- Central Crossing, Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty at York

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 17 -- Olentangy Orange at Blackhawk

Sept. 18- Delaware at Mentel Mem-orial

BOYS SOCCER

*Sept. 13 -- At Delaware

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Delaware

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 15 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament

Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Grove City

*Sept. 18 -- At Hilliard Bradley

Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Kilbourne

Sept. 17 -- At Marion Harding

Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon

WATER POLO

Sept. 15-16 -- Boys: Cincinnati St. Xavier Invitational; Girls: Ohio Cup at home

*League contest