Westerville South High School boys cross country coach Jimmy Gaul always looks forward to the late-season meets that help the Wildcats tune up for the postseason.

The Wildcats will compete in the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic on Saturday, Sept. 29, at London Country Club. The meet is Gaul's favorite.

"This week is my favorite meet of the year," he said. "It's on a golf course. It's in a cool little setting down a ravine along a creek and just a beautiful setting. It's great competition (and) a fast, but challenging course. It's on a golf course for most of it and then you get punished with hills at the very end, so it's a good challenge for us."

South then will compete in the Johnstown Harrier Showdown on Oct. 6 at Sportsman Club in preparation of the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Davidson.

On Sept. 22, the Wildcats finished eighth (195 points) of 10 teams in the Pickerington Central Invitational behind champion Gahanna (38).

Cole Koehler, who has been the team's No. 1 runner all season, finished 20th of 84 runners in 17 minutes, 31.2 seconds. Donovan Slattery was 33rd in a season-best 17:54.3.

"We really like this time of the year," Slattery said. "It's getting down to the peak of our season, the tournament season and pushing ourselves."

Slattery is hoping to compete in his first regional meet and looking to better his personal best of 17:46.68.

"I think it's possible, especially after (the Sept. 22) race," he said. "I feel really confident. We're hoping to go to regional as a team. That's one of our goals. We have very talented runners. We just need to get closer time-wise as a group and just keep pushing ourselves and beating teams in other jerseys to rack up the points."

Issac Combs (41st, 18:18.5), Ian Anderson (49th, 18:38.2), Anthony Vilardo (63rd, 19:16), Brandon Allbritton (65th, 19:22.4) and Liam Allbritton (69th, 19:46.1) rounded out South's top seven at Pickerington Central.

"I feel good about the work we're doing every day at practice," Gaul said. "The guys have bought in, they're working hard and they're doing exactly what we're asking. ... We're building week by week and trying to put our best races together at the end of the season, and (Sept. 22) was another positive step in that direction."

Ellsworth leading girls runners

The girls cross country team is enjoying a good season led by Emily Ellsworth, who was 13th of 70 runners at Pickerington Central in a personal-best 21:13.6.

Taylor Hughes was 25th (21:50.1), followed by Ellie Bouton (26th, 21:53), Karina Deere (41st, 22:38.6), Emma Henderson (63rd, 24:05.5), Elise Bennett (64th, 24:08.1) and Tasha Carr (66th, 24:49.4).

South finished sixth (148) of eight teams behind champion Teays Valley (47).

"The girls had a great day," Gaul said. "They've had a great two weeks. I'm very excited for the girls and (coach) Erin (Focht). The front four is strong and it's a nice pack and it's carrying us to some better team performances than we've had in the past handful of years."

Herzberg named girls basketball coach

Erick Herzberg was approved by the school board as girls basketball coach Sept. 24.

Herzberg, 45, replaces Tomeka Brown-Whitehead, who was approved by the school board in June but stepped down Sept. 10 because of personal reasons, according to athletics director Josh DeVoll.

Herzberg coached at Lakewood last winter and was at Linden-McKinley the previous two years, earning City League Coach of the Year honors in 2016.

"Erick has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the game of basketball," DeVoll said. "He has been an instrumental part of the success at both Linden-McKinley and Lakewood. We couldn't be more excited to find a person like Erick this close to the season. Erick possesses a variety of skills, as an educator and coach, that will help advance our girls basketball program."

Herzberg teaches modern world history, psychology/sociology and American history and government at Mifflin.

Brown-Whitehead was hired to replace Silas Williams. He guided the Wildcats for eight years, finishing with five consecutive winning seasons and a 103-83 record.

South reached a Division I regional final last season, falling to eventual state champion Pickerington Central 60-52 to finish 21-6 overall. The Wildcats also won the OCC-Buckeye at 10-0.

Williams was named coach at Pickerington North in May after the retirement of Dave Butcher, who is the second-winningest coach in state history. Butcher compiled a 747-146 record in 35 seasons.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the South cross country, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

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

GIRLS GOLF

Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Royal American. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 27 -- At Westland

*Oct. 2 -- At Westerville North

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Hartley

*Oct. 1 -- Home vs. North

GIRLS TENNIS

Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Beechcroft

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Olentangy. The Wildcats lost to the Braves 25-7, 25-9, 25-11 on Sept. 4.

*Oct. 2 -- At Olentangy Liberty. The Wildcats lost to the Patriots 25-11, 25-5, 25-17 on Sept. 6.

*League contest