The Pickerington High School North boys cross country team had plenty to enjoy the last two weeks as it dominated its way to OCC-Ohio Division and Division I district championships.

The Pickerington High School North boys cross country team had plenty to enjoy the last two weeks as it dominated its way to OCC-Ohio Division and Division I district championships.

Don't ask the Panthers to rejoice just yet though.

After cruising to its first district title with 38 points in the section 1 race last Saturday at Watkins Memorial, North has its sights on advancing to state for the third time in four seasons.

The Panthers had the lowest score among the three district champions and should enter the regional race at 2:50 p.m. Saturday on their home course as one of the favorites to earn a state-qualifying spot.

"We just congratulated them, but we have not (celebrated yet)," coach Tim Starkey said. "Now we're just focusing on our next two races. We're real pleased with how the team is performing. One of our goals was definitely winning district. We're firing on all cylinders right now."

Seniors Daniel Garleb (16 minutes, 14.61 seconds) and Nick Hissrich (16:19.69) captured the top two spots last Saturday to lead North, which previously had earned four district runner-up trophies.

Rounding out the Panthers' runners were Greg Black (sixth, 17:02.51), Justin Simmons (14th, 17:37.32), Mitchell Phillips (15th, 17:38.32), Stephen Morrison (27th, 17:53.79) and John Parsons (30th, 17:56.06).

North has whipped the competition the past two weeks despite losing James Whitehead to a broken foot Oct. 10 in the Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington. He had become the team's No. 4 runner.

"OCC was a lot of fun and kind of put an exclamation point on our season," Starkey said. "I would say that we're fairly confident and pleased at how everybody is running. We have some depth. They've all been very steady and very dependable. The guys have just stepped in since we lost James Whitehead."

Also competing in the boys regional will be Central's Mason Prater, who finished 18th (17 minutes, 50 seconds) in the section 2 race last Saturday.

For the Tigers, Prater was followed by Brennan McCotter (48th, 19:00.59), Usama Awan (63rd, 19:26.29), Michael Gase (65th, 19:27.46), Luke Forshey (71st, 19:52.58), Mason Moore (75th, 20:27.11) and Neal Shah (78th, 20:40.43).

"I was pleased by his start, which got him in good position," coach Andy Fischer said. "He was up to about 15th close to the end before getting passed by a couple guys. He's been running pretty well and I'm really pleased with his progress.

"I think overall it was a good day for our team given the conditions. For a lot of these guys, just running and getting muddy was kind of fun."

•Representing Pickerington in the girls regional will be the North team and Central's Kaitlyn Meyer. The race is scheduled at 12:35 p.m. Saturday.

The Panthers finished third (84) behind Dublin Scioto (23) and Dublin Coffman (63). Hilliard Darby (127) was the final qualifier from the section 2 race.

While Scioto, Upper Arlington and Canal Winchester all won Central District titles, Sylvania Northview and Toledo Notre Dame Academy -- which took the top two spots in the Northwest District's section 2 race -- also should make the field a difficult one.

"We'll be facing some pretty tough schools," North coach Jim Langenderfer said. "We got third at our district. I'd like to see if we can break into the top 10 or even better. Last year we made it to the regional by one point, but I think the girls are a lot more experienced."

Kristen Eisenhauer finished fourth (20:16.29) behind three Scioto runners.

Also competing for the Panthers at district were Meg Moledor (18th, 21:32.95), Gabbi Thacker (19th, 21:39.32), Fayth Greegor (21st, 21:41.93), Kim Black (22nd, 21:43.71), Morgan Grodesky (33rd, 22:10.69) and Gabby Bobadilla (47th, 22:47.14).

"We've honestly been trying to spend time working on our speed," Langenderfer said. "The biggest thing is to get out there and race, and the girls are racing very well. "(Eisenhauer) definitely has a shot to make it to state. She's been racing well the last two weeks and is on top of her game. She really hasn't had a bad race all year."

Meyer finished eighth (20:40.69) in the section 1 race to lead the Tigers, who finished two spots short of advancing as a team.

Emily Sharrett was 33rd (22:07.71), followed by Jessica Bussom (35th, 22:15.42), Megan Sharrett (39th, 22:44.25), Autumn Cooper (43rd, 23:07.64), Jordan Robinson (51st, 23:33.83) and Annie Curie (53rd, 23:36.66).

Curie was the team's No. 2 runner in the Erin Nance Classic on Oct. 3 at London, but has been battling sickness.

"We're pretty disappointed (not to qualify to regional as a team)," coach Melissa Balko said. "I was really excited for (Meyer) to win OCC. I think she was really concerned, looking at the times she'd been running and she battled sickness for a couple of weeks. I told her, 'You've got to stop finding excuses because you're still the same runner you were in the past.' To do that well at OCC was a huge help to her."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Central and North boys and girls cross country teams:


Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished 10th (265 points) in 12-team Division I section 2 race at Watkins Memorial behind champion Westerville North (68). Mason Prater finished 18th (17:50) to advance individually; Girls: Finished sixth (152) in nine-team section 1 race behind champion Upper Arlington (45). Kaitlyn Meyer was eighth (20:40.69) to advance individually.

Saturday -- Regional at North. Boys race is 2:50 p.m. Girls race is 12:35 p.m.


Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished first (38 points) in 13-team section 1; Girls: Finished third (84) in 13-team section 2 behind Dublin Scioto (23) and Dublin Coffman (63)

Saturday -- Home regional. Boys race is 2:50 p.m. Girls race is 12:35 p.m.

Of note: The top four teams and 16 individuals in the regional advance to state meet Nov. 7 at Scioto Downs.