Both of the Olentangy High School cross country program's Division I state qualifiers downplayed the rainy, muddy conditions during the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
As far as Lex Brookshire and Sam Holt were concerned, nothing could be as bad as the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 8 at Watkins Memorial, when persistent rain meant some racers found themselves up to their knees in puddles.
"The (McGowan Invitational) was much worse than this. This seemed like nothing," Holt said. "It was a good day to race."
Holt finished seventh (16 minutes, 18.8 seconds) to qualify for his first state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced from regional.
Brookshire was 15th (19:26.7) to earn her third state berth. She finished 61st as a freshman and 126th as a sophomore.
Both are seniors.
Brookshire's goal was to finish in the top 10, but she was prouder of herself for getting back to state to cap a season in which she battled a minor groin strain about a month ago. That prevented her from doing as much work on hilly terrain as usual.
"Everyone has to race through the same (bad weather). That's what I kept telling myself," Brookshire said. "The experience helps. You're used to the feelings during the race and you know that it gets better as the race goes on if you keep pushing through. ...
"Last year was a pretty tough year for me. I am just glad I will be able to return to (state)."
Holt broke into the top 10 early in the race and managed to stay there.
"I just wanted to stay in the top 10 and hold off that second pack that I knew would form and that's what happened," he said. "Top 10 was my goal. It means a lot to me. I told myself I could get here and participate in the state meet. This is a big personal achievement."
Brookshire was one of two girls individuals competing for Olentangy. Classmate Alice Pozzi finished 80th (21:27.5).
Olentangy's boys team finished 12th (264 points) of 16 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (95).
Holt was followed by Mikey Worboy (41st, 17:10.1), Carter Schaefer (63rd, 17:22.9), Luke Galloway (97th, 17:54.8) and Chandler Moyer (105th, 18:00.1).
Girls soccer team wins district title
The girls soccer team picked up its 12th win in 13 games when it defeated 10th-seeded Orange 2-1 in a Division I district final Oct. 27 at Grandview, and had a chance to avenge the only loss in that span when it played Pickerington North in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Dublin Jerome.
Fifth-seeded Olentangy won its first district championship since 2015. The Braves were participating in their fifth consecutive district final.
Sydney Richards assisted on the Braves' first goal against Orange, connecting with Kylie Beinecke with 5:41 left in the first half, and scored the game-winner with 15 minutes left.
Olentangy also defeated Orange 2-1 on Oct. 13 to capture the outright OCC-Buckeye Division championship.
"This is just a terrific team of players with so much ability," coach Earl Devanny said. "Our response after they scored was terrific. We started taking higher-percentage shots and I think overall, we ended the first half strong and started the second half strong. We've focused on attacking and if there's a miss or a shot doesn't go in, we maintain a high confidence level."
The Olentangy-North winner will play Jerome or Watterson in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 3, at a neutral site. The regional champion will play Beavercreek, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, Loveland or Mason in a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 6, at a neutral site, and that winner will advance to the state final Nov. 9 at Mapfre Stadium.
The Braves, who advanced to the district final by defeating visiting and sixth-seeded Davidson 3-1 in a semifinal Oct. 23, have not played any of their potential regional final or state semifinal opponents this season.
Boys soccer team falls to Panthers
The boys soccer team got four shots on goal during a Division I district final Oct. 27 against fourth-seeded Pickerington North at Grandview, and while Panthers goalkeeper Cory Pulles stopped all of those, several more were deflected away by defenders and the Braves never could punch through in a 2-0 loss.
"We had a lot of chances. Their pressure was pretty hard and they kept us on our half (of the field) for most of the first half because of their pressure," coach Kyle Hamrick said. "We kept possession decently, which got us forward a few times, but they made a few quality saves and were very aggressive on the ball."
Junior goalie Grant Robinson made six saves as the Braves, who were seeded sixth in the 48-team tournament, finished 13-5-2.
They advanced to the district final by edging visiting and 21st-seeded Thomas Worthington 3-2 in overtime in a semifinal Oct. 24. Junior midfielder/forward Christian Bowens scored twice, including the winning goal with 4 minutes to play in overtime.
Olentangy got out to a 9-0-2 start.
Other players eligible to return include juniors Drew Beck (defender), Drew Clement (midfielder/forward) and Vik Hudson (defender).
"These guys worked their tails off from the very beginning," Hamrick said. "We lost 27 players to (Olentangy) Berlin and we're a sixth seed in the Central District and made it to a district final. This is something that should be a trend in this program. We should expect to be here and winning these games."
Volleyball team loses district final
The girls volleyball team came within a few points of winning its first Division I district championship since 2008 but fell to eighth-seeded Watterson 18-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13 on Oct. 27 at Whitehall.
Olentangy, which was seeded third of 49 teams, finished 19-6.
The Braves also were district runners-up in 2015 and 2017 and lost in a semifinal in 2016.
Despite the loss, coach Sarah Polhemus felt a tough schedule that included two league matches apiece against top-seeded Liberty and fourth-seeded Orange -- both of which won district titles -- and non-league matches against another district champion in second-seeded Dublin Coffman and a runner-up in 11th-seeded DeSales steeled her team for a postseason run.
"We've had to talk a lot about what to do when there's a pressure situation," Polhemus said. "When you play teams like Orange and Liberty, especially when it's girls you know well, it becomes a mental game. Just being able to know we can execute because we've seen fantastic teams four times in our conference, and then playing Coffman early in the year on top of that, it only makes us stronger."
Olentangy advanced to the district final by beating 12th-seeded Jerome 25-21, 26-15, 25-21 on Oct. 23 in a semifinal at Whitehall.
Through 24 matches, senior outside hitter Olivia Margolies led the Braves in kills (375) and aces (45) and was second in digs (329). Senior right-side hitter/outside hitter Emily Margolies had 210 kills and 256 digs, and sophomore outside hitter/right-side hitter Sophie Sparks had 185 kills.
Olivia Margolies and junior defensive specialist Madyson Chitty (565 digs) were named first-team all-league. Emily Margolies was second-team all-league, senior setter Maggie Samijlenko was special mention all-league and Sparks was honorable mention all-league.
The Margolies sisters are Ohio University commits. Samijlenko has committed to Indiana University of Pennsylvania.