Zubin Jha of the Thomas Worthington High School boys cross country team is often reminded of his brother, Arjun, who finished fifth in the Division I state meet last season and is competing at Indiana University this fall.
"It's tough when your brother is one of the top all-time cross country runners in the program and everyone is looking at you and comparing you to your brother," coach Bill Darling said. "But Zubin has come into his own this year and has really blossomed. But he has a different style and is a different runner than his brother.
"Zubin has to use more strategy because he doesn't have the foot speed that Arjun had. Arjun was a rare runner who could close hard because of his speed. He ran on the (1,600-meter) relay (for the track and field team) at state. Zubin is his own person. He loves his brother and is proud of Arjun, but he's a different person that is succeeding with the strengths he has. He shouldn't feel any pressure and he doesn't from our team or school."
Zubin posted his best time of the season Sept. 29 when he finished 20th in 14 minutes, 10.4 seconds in the Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley.
"People always ask me about Arjun, especially competitors from other schools," Zubin said. "I've gotten used to it. Although it's annoying at times, I think people mean well. It's a compliment in a way. But I don't think anyone should compare us. I'm trying to have success doing it my way, the only way that I can. I'm more of a distance guy from the start. I need to work ahead earlier in the race and maintain a good pace because I know others can sprint past me at the end."
Darling said the work of Zubin and junior Nate Johnson have given his young team time to grow this season, as the Cardinals also had to replace 2018 graduate Andy Payne. Arjun Jha finished in 15:32.7 at state last year and Payne was eighth in 15:36.2 as the Cardinals placed 11th as a team.
"Zubin and Nate are carrying the flag for us," Darling said. "Their performance is allowing the young guys time to develop and give us some respectable team showings. Our young guys are getting better and becoming more competitive. I think Jack Caine and Andres Mira are doing well and are consistently our No. 3 and 4 runners. Morgan Chavez, Noah Silliman and Victor Nash are coming along, too."
Caine finished 120th (15:10.1) of 274 runners in the Midwest Meet of Champions. He was followed by Mira (127th, 15:13.6), Nash (142nd, 15:19.5), Silliman (216th, 15:54.4) and Chavez (220th, 15:57.9), as the Cardinals finished 17th (427 points) of 39 teams, behind champion Cleveland St. Ignatius (113).
"The coaches are doing a great job keeping us excited and we're getting better at (Nos. 3-6)," Johnson said. "It's up to Zubin and me to get up front as much as possible and work hard to help those guys keep developing.
"I think Zubin and me both want to get to state and maybe make the top 20 or 30. That would be a great season for us this year."
The girls team finished fourth (245) of 37 teams in the Midwest Meet of Champions, behind champion Liberty Township Lakota East (89), as Lydia Miller led the way by placing 15th (19:01.6) of 256 runners.
Gia Napoleon finished 32nd (19:39.3), followed by Carina Napoleon (34th, 19:42.4), Tori Banks (68th, 20:17.5), Morgan Edwards (105th, 20:53.4), Lina Guerra (119th, 21:05) and Abby Moulton (157th, 21:39.3).
The Cardinals will play host to the Les Eisenhart Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 6, before preparing for the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Davidson.
Winning streak ends for field hockey team
The field hockey team had a 43-game winning streak snapped with a 4-0 loss at Columbus Academy on Sept. 26.
The Cardinals, the three-time defending state champions, had allowed just four goals in their first 11 games this season.
Thomas was 11-1 overall and 7-0 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division entering its league finale Oct. 3 against Upper Arlington.
"We don't care about the overall winning streak. What we do care about is correcting what went wrong (against Academy)," coach Terri Simonetti Frost said. "We tried a few things that didn't work and maybe we'll see them again (in the postseason) if things go well. We found out some things and now we have to get back to work."
Girls tennis team set for sectional
Senior Sarina Xie is seeded second in singles and will lead the girls tennis team into a Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Bradley.
Xie, a three-time district qualifier, will await the winner of a play-in match to determine her first-round opponent.
Also in singles, senior Ellie Brown will face Grove City's Lexi Townsend and junior Riley Dodson will play Davidson's Kaitlyn Quinn in first-round matches.
In first-round doubles matches, junior Sydney Cooke and Katie Haydel-Brown will play Athens' Ami Brannan and Kiki Chen and senior Anna Kravtsova and sophomore Winney McKahan will face Dublin Scioto's Julia Trotti and Sydney Davis.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg.
Boys golfers hoped to extend season
The boys golf team competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 2 at Turnberry, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on a qualifying team advance to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer
Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Watterson
Oct. 4 -- Home vs. Westerville South
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
*Oct. 9 -- At Kilbourne
*Oct. 4 -- At Dublin Scioto. The Cardinals lost to the Irish 25-14, 25-16, 25-8 on Sept. 4.
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby. The Cardinals lost to the Panthers 26-24, 25-20, 25-10 on Sept. 6.
Oct. 5-6 -- Girls: Milford Invitational
Oct. 6-7 -- Boys: Milford Invitational
Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Kilbourne