Coach Kim Garee has seen the Northridge High School boys and girls cross country teams grow in her three seasons leading the program.

Coach Kim Garee has seen the Northridge High School boys and girls cross country teams grow in her three seasons leading the program.

Both teams have four freshmen and the boys team also has four sophomores, providing an injection of youth that will help add depth.

Last fall, the boys had only three runners and did not have a team score in the Division III, district 2 meet, while the girls had only six of a possible seven runners in the district 2 meet.

"We've got 35 runners in high school and middle school this year, an all-time high for Northridge schools," Garee said. "We're really building in those younger grades, which is exactly what we want to see happen as we work on building our program."

Two years ago, the Vikings had five boys and eight girls. This year, they're up to 19 total high school runners.

The only senior in the program is first-year runner Chris Douglas, a former football player who came out to prepare for his enlistment in the Marines after graduation.

Graham Garee is the only junior on the boys team, which also features sophomores Niklas Bluemner, Carl Dixen, Brian Scott and Isaac Sweetman and freshmen Rex Bammerlin, Gabe Farthing, Nathan Hewett and Jason Roser.

Two of the runners are exchange students -- Dixen is from Denmark and Bluemner is from Germany.

"We lost a lot of seniors last year and that leaves us with few returning upperclassmen," coach Garee said. "Our captain is Graham Garee, a junior who has run for five years now and brings the most experience. Brian Scott brings a lot of speed and heart to the boys team."

The girls team features juniors Anna Edwards, Abby Jesenko, Christina Kiser and Emma Scritchfield, sophomore Megan King and freshmen Riley Bunstine, Emma Garee, Makayla Harris and Shelby Yorde.

"The girls team does not have any seniors, but Christina Kiser and Anna Edwards are returning juniors," coach Garee said. "They are bringing with them two new, very hard-working junior girls in Emma Scritchfield and Abby Jesenko."

The Vikings opened Aug. 23 in the six-team Utica Invitational. The girls finished fourth (105 points) behind champion Johnstown-Monroe (32) and the boys were sixth (167) behind champion Johnstown (44).

Bunstine placed 13th (27 minutes, 32.86 seconds) to lead the girls, and Hewett finished 24th (24:02.89) to pace the boys.

"Our runners are always enthusiastic and have a willingness to put their best out there," coach Garee said. "They race to improve themselves, and they encourage one another in doing that."

Elliott takes reins of girls volleyball team

Coach Robin Elliott has taken over the girls volleyball team after John Smith led the program for four seasons.

Elliott was the j.v. coach last fall and was the freshman coach the previous three seasons.

"Our roster looks completely different than it did last year," Elliott said. "Add to that we put in a new serve-receive, a new defense and new offensive coverages. The girls have had a lot thrown at them in the last couple of weeks."

The Vikings, who finished 4-19 overall and fifth (0-13) in the LCL-Cardinal behind champion Newark Catholic (13-0) last fall, return three starters in senior outside hitter McKenna Kitchen, junior middle hitter Kaylee Lindsey and sophomore setter Olivia Shank. Also seeing varsity time last season were senior Alexis Humes (back row) and juniors Jordan Crow (back row) and Trinity Orahood (libero).

Senior middle hitter Hallie Martin did not return because of knee problems.

"I'm really excited about this group," Elliott said. "They have a willingness to learn new things and these girls are willing to put forth the effort to get things right in practice."

Olivia Garrabrant (setter/front row) and Rachael Harmon (back row) round out the four-player senior class. Also on the roster are junior Kerrington Mintier (setter) and sophomores Olivia Humes (outside hitter), Madie Legg (middle hitter), Caroline Liggett (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Amanda Shults (libero/back row).

The Vikings opened Aug. 20 by losing to Fairbanks (25-13, 25-12) and West Jefferson (25-14, 25-7). They lost to Granville Christian 25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 25-23 on Aug. 23 and dropped their Aug. 24 league opener to Licking Valley 25-7, 25-17, 25-8.

"For all teams, passing is fundamental and is something that we can work on," Elliott said. "If you can't pass, you can't run an offense. We're working on repositioning their arms and the placement of their hips. We work on passing in practice every day."

Football team to battle Lakewood

The football team plays host to Lakewood on Friday, Sept. 2, in its second consecutive home game to start the season.

The Vikings opened Aug. 26 against Washington Court House.

Lakewood, which played Amanda-Clearcreek on Aug. 26, is coming off a 1-8 season. The Lancers have not won more than two games since going 7-4 in 2001 and reaching the playoffs.

Lakewood is in its third season under coach Craig Conley. Senior Cameron Downs returns after rushing for 593 yards last fall, but has moved to wide receiver.

The Vikings defeated Lakewood 43-15 last season to snap a 15-game losing streak against Licking County opponents. Their previous county victory was Sept. 21, 2012, when they defeated Utica 33-26 when both were members of the MBC.

Against Lakewood, senior quarterback Dan Hatfield was 7-for-12 passing for 165 yards and one score and rushed for 105 yards on 19 carries with touchdowns of 3 and 1 yard.

Senior Gunner Absten had five catches for 110 yards and two scores.

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Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 23 – Utica Invitational

Aug. 27 – Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion

Aug. 31 – Canal Winchester Invitational

Sept. 10 – McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 17 – Newark Invitational at Evans Athletic Complex

Sept. 24 – Heath Don Hardin Invitational at Geller Park

Sept. 27 – Fredericktown Denny Stevens Invitational at Kokosing Park

Oct. 5 – Thornville Sheridan Backwoods Invitational

Oct. 8 – Johnstown Harrier Showdown at Sportsman Club

Oct. 15 – LCL meet at Watkins Memorial

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 20 – at Fairbanks with West Jefferson

Aug. 23 – vs. Granville Christian

*Aug. 24 – vs. Licking Valley

Aug. 27 – Cardington Invitational

*Aug. 30 – at Heath

*Sept. 1 – vs. Utica

*Sept. 6 – at Licking Heights

Sept. 9 – at Columbus Academy

*Sept. 12 – at Newark Catholic

*Sept. 15 – vs. Lakewood

*Sept. 20 – vs. Johnstown

*Sept. 22 – vs. Heath

Sept. 24 – Caledonia River Valley Invitational

*Sept. 26 – at Granville

*Sept. 29 – at Utica

Oct. 4 – at Licking Valley

*Oct. 6 – vs. Watkins Memorial

*Oct. 11 – vs. Newark Catholic

*Oct. 13 – at Johnstown

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Northridge boys golf and boys soccer teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 3 – Bexley Invitational at Westchester

BOYS SOCCER

*Aug. 30 – At Lakewood

*Sept. 1 – At Licking Heights

Sept. 3 – Home vs. East Knox

*League contest