The Grandview Heights High School girls cross country team returns an abundance of talent as the Bobcats aim for another trip to the Division III state meet and to defend their MSL-Cardinal Division title.

The Grandview Heights High School girls cross country team returns an abundance of talent as the Bobcats aim for another trip to the Division III state meet and to defend their MSL-Cardinal Division title.

Grandview has six of seven runners back from last year's team that finished 15th (290 points) at state at Scioto Downs, behind champion Minster (158).

The team lost 2011 graduate Hannah Stefanoff, who finished third at state in 18 minutes, 23.9 seconds and now is running at Georgia State in Atlanta.

"We have six of our top seven back, but we lost a pretty good No. 1 in Hannah," said Brian Schoch, who is in his third season leading the boys and girls programs. "We have some good young runners and they run well as a pack."

In the opening New Albany Classic on Aug. 24, the Bobcats finished eighth (224) of 14 teams behind champion New Albany (56).

Sophomore Halli Bair (seventh, 21:44) led the way, followed by senior Selby Gage (42nd, 23:47), freshman Madison Osborne (43rd, 23:48), senior Ashley Hofmaster (64th, 25:00), freshman Emma Mihocik (86th, 25:37), senior Gretchen Giltner (105th, 26:41) and senior Gwen Downey (110th, 26:58).

Rounding out the roster are senior Emily Lachey, who is in her first season on the team, sophomore Hanley Baird, who is nursing a hamstring injury, and sophomore Amelia Akers.

The top six returnees are Bair, Baird, Downey, Gage, Giltner and Hofmaster.

"Any year in cross country, staying healthy is a big deal and everyone getting better is a key," Schoch said. "I know and they know that they have to do it together. There's not going to be one person run an 18:09 like Hannah was able to do."

The Bobcats won the MSL-Cardinal championship last fall with 48 points to finish ahead of Fisher Catholic (60), Licking Heights (64), Berne Union (71), Liberty Union (89) and Millersport (168).

Grandview finished second (62) in the district 2 meet at Watkins Memorial behind Fredericktown (60) and third (122) at regional at Pickerington North behind Galion Northmor (94) and Fredericktown (117).

•The boys cross country team has only one returnee in junior Chase Gage. Sophomores Luke Evans and Josh Smith did not compete with the program last season, but they ran distance on the track and field team last spring.

In the opener at New Albany, the Bobcats finished fifth (167) of 14 teams behind champion Central Crossing (40).

Evans finished 10th in 17:50, followed by Gage (17th, 18:20), Smith (29th, 19:07), freshman Eli Reed (35th, 19:26), freshman Jon Faris (103rd, 22:05), freshman Peter Mathes (105th, 22:05), freshman Owen McCormick (167th, 24:56), freshman Josh Clark (173rd, 25:36) and freshman Quinn Williams (189th, 27:17).

"The boys are very young with no seniors and one junior," Schoch said. "We're young, but we're young and talented. It's just a matter of them figuring out running cross country. We have nine guys and eight are new to high school cross country meets.

"But we're not going to use youth as an excuse. They need to go out and work hard to get better."

Last year, the Bobcats finished third (70) in the MSL-Cardinal meet, behind Liberty Union (15) and Licking Heights (55) and ahead of Fisher Catholic (109) and Berne Union (121).

Grandview was ninth (238) in the Division III district meet at Watkins Memorial, behind champion Liberty Union (67).

•The girls volleyball team opened Aug. 27 at Tree of Life, defeating Brookhaven 25-13, 25-11 and losing to the host team 25-14, 14-25, 27-25.

Senior outside hitter Maddie Gibbons, a three-year letterwinner and returning starter, had 21 kills,18 digs, six aces and five blocks in the two matches, and junior middle hitter Courtney Collier had 13 kills, eight aces and five blocks. Junior setter Maureen Flanagan, a returning starter and two-year letterwinner, had 49 assists and four aces, and senior right-side hitter Brenna McLaughlin, also a returning starter, totaled 14 digs.

Senior middle hitter Kelly Berlin and senior outside hitter Gen Ritz are returning starters.

Flanagan, Gibbons and McLaughlin are captains.

"Maddie will lead us offensively with her powerful attacking," said third-year coach Karla Fairbanks, whose team finished 4-20 overall last year after losing to top-seeded Heath 25-12, 25-14, 25-11 in the second round of the Division III district tournament. "Brenna will help lead her team vocally on the court and is also one of our top defenders and passers.

"Maureen will enter her third season as our starting setter and has been playing harder and smarter. She has worked really hard to be a leader on and off the court."

Seniors Olivia Reed and Jenny Helber and sophomore Grace Vanfossen will be back-row defenders.

Sophomore outside hitter Natalie Ferris, freshman middle hitter/right-side hitter Hannah Kerr and freshman middle hitter Allison Voelker round out the roster.

"They work hard and have really grown to love the sport of volleyball," Fairbanks said. "These girls are coming into this season better-conditioned, better-skilled and more-knowledgeable about the sport of volleyball. I am lucky to have a great group of girls that work well together and also have been great role models to the younger girls in our program."

The Bobcats played a non-league match against Ready on Aug. 30 before opening MSL-Cardinal play Thursday, Sept. 1, at Fisher Catholic.

Last season, Grandview tied Berne Union for sixth (3-11) in the league, behind West Jefferson (13-1), Fisher Catholic (12-2), Harvest Prep (10-4), Licking Heights (9-5) and Liberty Union (6-8) and ahead of Millersport (0-14).

"We are really working hard to let go of what Grandview volleyball used to be. We want to start winning and show the community what volleyball is all about," Fairbanks said. "With that said, our biggest struggle will be our confidence. These girls have made a goal to compete hard this year, regardless of who we play.

"The overall skill level of the program is better than it was a year ago. We are expecting more wins this year, and in years to come."