In 11 of its 12 losses last season, the Dublin Jerome High School field hockey team was shut out.

In 11 of its 12 losses last season, the Dublin Jerome High School field hockey team was shut out.

The Celtics believe they are an improved offensive team this season, and evidence of that already has begun to emerge.

On Aug. 24 against Columbus School for Girls, Jerome won 4-1 as senior forward Cameron Finnegan scored three goals.

Also back on offense are senior forwards Grace Cochran, Erica Evans and Rylee Henley.

The Celtics were 1-2 before opening Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division action Aug. 31 against Olentangy Liberty.

"This year we return 10 players with varsity experience," 13th-year coach Colleen Bender said. "I expect a lot of great things from our returning senior forwards. The offense has a lot of experience and ability. Consistency is the key. They are four strong forwards that can make great plays with the ball. Getting them in the right spots to finish and support each other is the focus."

Back to lead the defense is senior Olivia Marina, while juniors Ireland Douglass and Sophie Monte also are key players at the position.

Juniors Mitali Singh, Allison Smith and Millie Torres are the top midfielders.

Sophomore Susannah Halsey and freshman Kendall Mabee are the goalkeepers.

Also on the team are juniors Abby Emmett (forward) and Danielle Kagy (defender), sophomores Aleyah Bonaventura (defender), Kendall Coleman (forward), Brynna Pope (forward) and Claire Tzagournis (midfielder) and freshmen Audrey Evans (defender), Jane Goodstein (forward) and Sydney Stone (midfielder).

"I'm hopeful that we have an improved record from last year," said Bender, whose team finished 5-12-1 overall last season. "I know the girls are very excited and focused on playing smart and making every possession count."

Most of key boys runners return

With five of its top seven runners from a year ago back on a team with 86 competitors, the boys cross country team has set a long-term goal of reaching the Division I state meet.

Last season, the Celtics followed a third-place finish in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet by taking fourth at district and ninth at regional.

"They're focused," fifth-year coach Dave Wadenstierna said. "They've all been running since June and we're hoping for a big season. It's a very cohesive group, maybe the most cohesive group I've ever had. They're really doing a great job building unity."

Junior Kellen Posacki, who finished 23rd (16 minutes, 26.3 seconds) at regional last year, is the top returnee.

Also back after competing at regional are seniors Ryan Gartner and Shashank Sawant and juniors Jeremy Coad and Alex Sanders.

In the Division I race of the OHSAA Preseason Invitational on Aug. 20 at National Trail Raceway, freshman Elliott Cook took 47th (17:39.4) and was the team's No. 2 runner behind Posacki (25th, 17:06.9) as Jerome took ninth (294) of 26 teams, behind champion Louisville (65).

Junior Andrew Reece is another of the team's top runners.

Freshmen Arjun Dhankani and Derek Sanders are others who are battling for spots in the lineup.

The Celtics lost their No. 1 runner, Bradley Davis, as well as their No. 3 finisher at regional last season, Adam Erikson, to graduation. Davis won a district title, took fourth at regional and placed sixth at state.

Girls runners bring back strong nucleus

Despite losing an all-Ohio finisher and its No. 1 runner from a year ago to graduation, much of the depth that helped the girls cross country team place sixth in the Division I regional meet has returned.

The top returnee is junior Kathryn Willette, who finished 28th (19:42.3) at last year's regional.

"We lost some really key runners, but we had a fantastic summer," 13th-year coach Kenny Schuster said. "For the first time, we've got a real close pack. Our top seven are probably running (within) a minute and a half of each other. We've never had that before."

Junior Elizabeth Turley, who along with Willette competed in the state track and field meet as a freshman on the 3,200-meter relay, figures to be another frontrunner.

Seniors Emily Chen and Rachel Ferguson, junior Halle Bentley and sophomore Jessica Blake are other returnees who competed at regional last season.

Senior Angela Yang and juniors Hannah Monk and Haylee Zigmund are others who should contribute. Monk is a move-in from Texas.

Jerome never has advanced to state as a team, but had an individual place sixth at state last fall in 2016 graduate Carly Davis, who is Bradley Davis' twin sister.

Carly Davis won a district title and took fourth at regional.

"We've got a lot of juniors and seniors up front, and they're making a big statement for our younger runners," Schuster said. "We've got probably our biggest team in 10 years with 44 girls. We're hoping we can come through and win another OCC championship after winning it for the first time last year."

Volleyball team out to take another step

After going 0-21 in 2013 and 4-19 in 2014, the girls volleyball team improved to 13-11 overall a year ago in coach Doug Mangette's second season as coach.

Continuing that move upward is the goal for the Celtics, who have five returning regulars as they look to shake off a slow start.

Jerome was 1-4 before playing Teays Valley on Aug. 30.

"We've brought back five starters from last year, so we're going to be an older, more experienced team," Mangette said. "We've only got three seniors but six juniors, and some of them are on varsity for the third year in a row. It was a very good season last year and this year is going to be even better."

Back as seniors are Ally Gatien (outside hitter), Anna Megown (defensive specialist/outside hitter) and Karlee Techentin (defensive specialist/libero).

Taylor King, a 6-foot right-side hitter who led the team in kills last year, leads the junior class along with 6-1 middle hitter Mackenzie Mangette, the coach's daughter.

The other juniors are Anya Bertke (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Stephanie Cline (defensive specialist/libero), Jessica Holtcamp (defensive specialist) and Libby Kerr (right-side hitter).

Sophomores Leah Neff and Shefalika Srinivasan are at setter in the Celtics' 6-2 offense.

Also on the team are sophomores Rylee Cutlip (setter) and Kendall Poach (middle hitter).

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 20 -- Boys: OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway

Aug. 22 -- at Coffman with Scioto

Aug. 27 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North

Sept. 3 -- ASICS Hot Summer Bash at Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 10 -- Tiffin Carnival

Sept. 24 -- Centerville Invitational

Oct. 8 -- Firebird Invitational at Kettering Fairmont

Oct. 15 -- OCC-Cardinal at Hilliard Darby

FIELD HOCKEY

Aug. 22 -- vs. New Albany

Aug. 24 -- vs. Columbus School for Girls

Aug. 25 -- at Columbus Academy

*Aug. 31 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 6 -- at Granville

*Sept. 7 -- at Olentangy

*Sept. 12 -- vs. Lancaster

*Sept. 14 -- vs. Scioto

*Sept. 19 -- at Olentangy Orange

*Sept. 21 -- at Thomas Worthington

Sept. 23 -- at Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy

Sept. 27 -- at Bexley

*Sept. 28 -- at Upper Arlington

Oct. 3 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Oct. 5 -- vs. Hilliard club team

*Oct. 12 -- at Coffman

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 20 -- at Marysville with New Albany and Jonathan Alder

*Aug. 23 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Aug. 25 -- at Thomas Worthington

Aug. 30 -- vs. Teays Valley

*Sept. 1 -- at Hilliard Darby

*Sept. 6 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*Sept. 8 -- at Delaware

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Scioto

*Sept. 15 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

Sept. 17 -- Worthington Kilbourne Invitational

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

Sept. 22 -- vs. Watkins Memorial

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

*Sept. 29 -- at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 4 -- vs. Upper Arlington

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Delaware

Oct. 11 -- vs. Ready

*Oct. 13 -- at Scioto

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 3 -- Celtic Invitational at Muirfield Village

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 1 -- At Upper Arlington

Sept. 3 -- Home vs. Gahanna

*Sept. 6 -- At Thomas Worthington

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 6 -- At Delaware

*League contest