One step from competing in the state meet as a team for the first time since 2007, New Albany High School girls cross country coach Brian Olinger thinks his top runners are close to peaking.

One step from competing in the state meet as a team for the first time since 2007, New Albany High School girls cross country coach Brian Olinger thinks his top runners are close to peaking.

The Eagles placed four runners in the top 20 and five in the top 31 on Oct. 20 in the Division I, district 1 meet at Watkins Memorial. They finished second with 84 points in the 14-team field, 49 points behind champion Hilliard Davidson.

"I think we got some key girls back in our top five, which helps," Olinger said. "Mirra (Galbreath, a senior) is back in the mix. It definitely bolsters our top five a little bit, but we have some work to do (this) week at regionals. These girls have been trying to make the state meet as a team for (several) years. We'll be anxious to see what they look like these upcoming races. But we have some work to do to see how we stack up."

Sophomore Camilla Suarez, the team's top runner since the middle of her freshman season, was fourth at district in 19 minutes, 24.67 seconds to lead the Eagles. Galbreath, who missed much of the season with adductor insertion avulsion syndrome -- in which tendons that connect the adductor muscle to the femur pull on the bone, causing stress -- was 11th in 20:14.86.

"I started a little faster than I was planning on," said Galbreath, who resumed running in early October. "I don't know if I had the lung capacity to keep up with that, but I'm glad I tried it out and did well for next week.

"I'm still dealing with the pain but my cross-training schedule (of running and swimming) helps me keep it tamed. This is my last season. I fought through it today."

Also competing for the Eagles were Charlotte Matt (18th, 20:38.54), Eliza Matt (20th, 20:44.26), Catherine Ralston (31st, 21:28.56), Becca Adams (52nd, 22:30.79) and Elissa Burack (75th, 23:19.96).

The top five teams and top 20 individuals in district 1 qualified for the regional meet Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North. The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional will qualify for the state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.

In 2007, New Albany scored 301 points at state to finish 15th in Division II behind champion Kettering Alter (94). Suarez was 103rd (20:07.97) at state last year and Galbreath was 31st (18:53.2) at state in 2010.

"I'm excited to see with another week of tapering, another week of resting and getting our legs underneath us, where we'll be," Olinger said. "Camilla's had some killer workouts lately. With another week of rest, hopefully we hit it right and we can surprise some people over at regionals."

Boys fall short of district title

The boys team came up two points short of its fourth consecutive district title, scoring 53 points to finish second behind Dublin Scioto in the Division I, district 3 race.

Usual No. 1 runner Zack Buck led the Eagles with a seventh-place finish in 16:21.86 as five runners placed in the top 15. Austin Bach was ninth (16:42.97), followed by Dennis Maloney (10th, 16:45.98), David Stanislav (12th, 17:06.99), Brian Krugh (15th, 17:11.4), Nathan Lackey (25th, 17:26.04) and Joydeep Ganguly (26th, 17:31.12).

The top six teams and top 24 individuals in district 3 advanced to regional.

"It was really muddy and slippery. I felt completely wiped out after the first mile, but I got back up, finished my race. Overall, it was slippery and it was tough," said Buck, a sophomore. "We're deep this year, the deepest we've probably ever been. Hopefully we can make a run at state."

Coach Chad Olinger gathered his team moments after they finished racing, pumping them up by saying he believed a regional performance equal to or better than the district meet will get the Eagles to state.

"Dublin Jerome's a great squad. Olentangy Liberty (which was third in district 3 with 55 points), they're both good," Olinger said. "We have to beat one of those two or Westerville North or Hilliard Davidson to get out (to state). That regional is going to come down to points, especially as strong as our region is. It'll be one, two, three or four points between going to state and not going. That's how it was today. It's great practice and a pressure-builder."