Bethany Yunker had just run 3.1 miles in the Division I, district 1 race at Watkins Memorial, but the Upper Arlington High School junior had even more running to do.

Bethany Yunker had just run 3.1 miles in the Division I, district 1 race at Watkins Memorial, but the Upper Arlington High School junior had even more running to do.

"I'm going to Mason to watch the (UA) water polo teams (play in the state championship games)," said Yunker, whose team was first with 45 points in front of the other three regional-qualifiers in Hilliard Davidson (51), Thomas Worthington (88) and Olentangy Orange (101). "I used to play water polo until I came out for cross country this year. But I found out I'm a heck of a lot better runner than I was playing water polo. I think I found my niche."

Yunker finished second in 20 minutes, 12.06 seconds to lead the Golden Bears to a district team title and helped lead the team to the regional Saturday at Pickerington North.

"I was a little disappointed in my time because it wasn't my fastest and I like to keep cutting time," said Yunker, who finished only behind Davidson's Jessica Hoover (19:29.83). "I know it was muddy and everything, and that slows you down, but I was still a little disappointed."

The Golden Bears, who were seeded second in the Central District behind Dublin Scioto, had all six scorers place inside the top 20. Directly after Yunker was senior Allison Magee in third (20:13.21) followed by junior Shelly Navarre (seventh, 20:36.17), junior Johanna Welling (16th, 21:11.21), junior Alison Gilbert (17th, 21:27.69) and Sarah Hobbs (19th, 21:36.81). The seventh runner, senior Hannah Craig, was 28th (21:58.33).

"I really like the mud here at Watkins (Memorial)," Magee said. "Everyone seems to kind of freak out when they see the mud, but this is my kind of cross country race."

The Golden Bears used a pack mentality on the muddy course to overtake the competition. The same strategy might be the key to success at Pickerington North, where the top four teams and the top 16 individuals in each division advance to state Nov. 7 at Scioto Downs.

"Winning like this really gives us a lot more confidence going into regional," Magee said. "Everyone's talking about the tough teams that are going to be there like Dublin Scioto. We haven't raced against Scioto in a while and we want to see how we match up."

Yunker was glad to have a familiar face at the front of the pack.

"I think we did well especially because Allison was there pushing me," she said. "I think it really picked both of us up. Plus we had so many in the top (19), so that has to be good for regional."

Last year at regional, UA qualified for state by placing third (79) behind Cincinnati Oak Hills (61), Kings Mills Kings (72).

•The boys team finished third (87) of 12 teams in the Division I district 2 meet behind Westerville North (68) and Dublin Coffman (73), and ahead of the final two regional-qualifiers Westerville South (97) and Teays Valley (113).

"I told them just to count on it being wet at Watkins (Memorial) because we normally get rain this time of year and we get it a day or two before the race," said coach Dale Hartney, who coaches both the boys and girls teams. "But in the postseason, it's more about place than time anyway. You can have muddy courses, but where you finish is more important than the time."

UA senior Brendan Long was 10th (17:29.76) behind champion Jeff Hannaford (16:39.97) of Westerville North. Senior Andrew Giljahn was 11th (17:31.97) was next for the Golden Bears followed by junior Wes Ewing (17th, 17:49.46), sophomore Victor Pataky (23rd, 18:05.82), senior Spencer Gardner (26th, 18:12.99), senior Chris Navarre (40th, 18:42.78) and senior Joey Mikac (46th, 18:54.86).

"Only four teams go on from regional," Hartney said. "That's where you have to run well, or you're done."

Last year at regional, the Golden Bears were 14th (315) of 16 teams behind state-qualifiers Davidson (76), Hilliard Darby (87), Reynoldsburg (99) and Lexington (135).