With seven seniors leading his boys team and five seniors powering the girls squad, Canal Winchester High School cross country coach John Bender was thrilled that both of his teams had productive training sessions during the offseason.

With seven seniors leading his boys team and five seniors powering the girls squad, Canal Winchester High School cross country coach John Bender was thrilled that both of his teams had productive training sessions during the offseason.

The 19th-year coach said senior leadership should continue to pay dividends this season.

Both squads opened Aug. 27 by competing in the Warrior Classic at Springfield Northwestern. The boys team finished second (48) of 10 teams behind Springfield Shawnee (33) and the girls team finished first (37) of eight teams ahead of runner-up Northwestern (58).

"This is about as big of a senior class as we've ever had and our seniors have set a great example for the kids by organizing great practices in the summer and fall," Bender said. "Our athletes are very intelligent, hard-working runners, and they're leading by example because they want their entire team to do the best it can do this season."

Vying for a top-seven position on the boys team are seniors Conner Barber, Ben Craig, Jimmy Fraley, Jarrod Genther, Tyler Jenkins, Aaron Robertson and Dan Williard, juniors Nick Brady, Justin Emmons, JaVaughan Marris and Brandon Nichols and sophomores Nick Sweeney and Joey Warnimont.

Last year, Canal Winchester scored 21 points to win the MSL-Buckeye Division meet ahead of Circleville (75), Teays Valley (80), Fairfield Union (104), Bloom-Carroll (142), Logan Elm (142) and Hamilton Township (182).

The Indians placed fifth (170) in the 18-team Division I, district 3 meet, behind Westerville North (52), Pickerington North (118), Watkins Memorial (124) and Vincent Warren (159). Newark (191) secured the sixth and final regional-qualifying berth.

Canal Winchester finished 10th (265) of 16 teams at regional, behind champion Westerville North (69). Only the top four squads and top 16 individuals advanced to state, and Genther finished 16th in 16 minutes, 34 seconds to make the cut.

Genther then finished 57th (16:18.5) in the state meet at Scioto Downs, marking the best individual state-meet performance the boys program has had. The previous best was 16:24, set by Cory Irwin in 2007.

"This is one of the most experienced teams we've had, and Jarrod Genther may become the best distance runner our school's ever had," Bender said. "We should win the MSL again. Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the state meet, but central Ohio is loaded with strong Division I teams, so it will be difficult."

Competing for a top-seven spot on the girls team are seniors Amanda Browning, Kayla Scott, Ali Stauffer, Rachel Tennison and Jessy Wheeler, juniors Kelly Anderson, Katelyn Bethel, Elizabeth Kifer and Taryn Meidl, sophomores Sarah Collins, Morgan Jenkins, Kelly Pentz, Natalie Tennison and Nicole Tennison and freshmen Julie Jennison, Alexandra Kifer and Angel Sims.

Scott finished first in the Warrior Classic in a course-record 18:55.

Last season, the Indians finished first (35) in the MSL-Buckeye meet, ahead of Logan Elm (75), Teays Valley (78), Circleville (98), Bloom-Carroll (114), Fairfield Union (152) and Hamilton Township (163).

Canal Winchester finished fourth (138) in the 12-team Division I, district 3 meet at Watkins Memorial, behind Hilliard Davidson (44), Upper Arlington (60) and Dublin Jerome (80), to secure the final regional-qualifying spot ahead of Olentangy Orange (139).

The Indians then finished 14th (301) of 16 teams at regional, behind champion Toledo Notre Dame Academy (87).

"Our girls will get a lot of competition from Teays Valley and Circleville in the MSL meet," Bender said. "Kayla Scott is getting interest from Division I colleges and if she can stay healthy, she can make the state meet."

•The girls soccer team finished 12-4-1 overall last year after losing to Hartley 2-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The Indians opened Aug. 23 with a 7-1 victory over Central Crossing before losing to Pickerington Central 4-0 on Aug. 25.

Canal Winchester opens MSL-Buckeye play on Thursday, Sept. 1, at Bloom-Carroll.

Returning to lead the Indians are seniors Alex Cremeans (defense/goalkeeper), Katie Hahn (midfield), Katelynn Ising (defense), Emilie Lance (defender) and Kyrstin Warnimont (defense) and juniors Savanna Daily (goalkeeper), McKinzie Harper (forward) and Abby Ternasky (midfield).

Last season, Ternasky had 12 goals and seven assists and Hahn and Harper each had 12 goals.

Rounding out the lineup are juniors Samantha Barwick (forward), Megan Byrd (defense), Brennan Haptonstall (forward), Anna Hippler (midfield), Amanda Kaser (defense), Brianna Meinhart (defense), Sarah Ramsey (midfield), Andrea Ratliff (midfield), Taylor Thome (midfield), Caitie Traylor (defense) and Jenna Zuberi (midfield).

"We're fairly athletic and this team has a lot of experience with no sophomores or freshmen making the varsity team," eighth-year coach Jim Stevens said. "This is the first year that our entire team has been made up of freshmen and sophomores."

Last year, Canal Winchester tied Bloom-Carroll and Teays Valley for first in the MSL-Buckeye at 5-1-1, followed by Circleville (4-2-1).

"I expect us to win the MSL because we're athletic enough to beat everyone in that group," Stevens said. "But soccer can be a cruel game and Bloom-Carroll, Teays Valley and Circleville are always big conference games."