The Thomas Worthington High School boys cross country team has returned four of its top six runners from last season, when it finished 15th in the Division I state meet, second at regional and won a district title.

The Thomas Worthington High School boys cross country team has returned four of its top six runners from last season, when it finished 15th in the Division I state meet, second at regional and won a district title.

Seniors Ty Banks and A.J. Morgan and juniors Arjun Jha and Andy Payne are back for third-year coach Bill Darling, whose team will compete in the Duels at DeWine Farm on Saturday, Sept. 3, in Cedarville.

"Arjun earned all-state honors last year and is a two-time state qualifier, and Andy is one of the stronger runners in central Ohio," Darling said. "He broke the school's course record last year, running 15 (minutes), 32 (seconds) at the (Les) Eisenhart Invitational.

"A.J. Morgan was all-state (last spring) in the indoor 800 (meters) and the (3,200 relay). He is looking to have his strongest season yet. Ty Banks was all-state on the indoor (3,200 relay) and was a state qualifier in cross country."

Senior Joshua Allen will join the returnees in the top seven, but the final two positions have not been solidified.

"(Allen) was all-state in the indoor (3,200 relay) and is running cross country for the first time and is looking good early," Darling said. "The other spots in the top seven are an open competition. We have a lot of younger runners and some more experienced guys who have a chance to shine this year."

The Cardinals opened Aug. 20 in the OHSAA Early Season Invitational at National Trail Raceway, finishing second (70 points) of 26 teams, behind Louisville (65). Jha finished first (15:42.1), Payne placed fourth (16:07.8), Banks was 12th (16:29.9), Morgan was 24th (17:05.6) and Allen was 29th (17:13.1) in a field of 243 runners.

The girls team will have plenty of experience in its lineup, as it lost just one of its top seven runners from last year to graduation.

Last season, the Cardinals finished third at district and ninth at regional and did not have any Division I state qualifiers.

Returning from the postseason lineup are seniors Marcella Chavez, Hannah Moulton and Christina Nash, junior Anna Lisa and sophomores Tori Banks and Gia Napoleon.

Rounding out the roster are junior Haddie Lawler and freshmen Lydia Miller, Abby Moulton and Cassidy Shaver.

"Christina, Hannah and Gia make each other better," 20th-year coach Andy Cox said. "That can be contagious for the team when they see those three challenging each other to be the very best they can be. ... Christina and Hannah bring experience. Both are on the top-10 fastest cross country list at Thomas. Gia brings pure speed and power to the table."

Nash is a two-time state qualifier and Moulton also has been to state.

"Our goal is to get back to state as a team and we also want to have all of our competitors -- from top to bottom -- 60 seconds apart at the finish," Cox said.

In the OHSAA Early Season Invitational, the Cardinals finished sixth (141) of 22 teams, behind champion Centerville (45). Nash placed ninth (19:46.46) of 198 runners to lead Thomas, followed by Hannah Moulton (13th, 20:02.2) and Napoleon (15th, 20:09.8). Also scoring were Abby Moulton (41st, 20:59.8) and Shaver (68th, 21:36.1).

Volleyball team has new coach, experience

The girls volleyball team has returned six letterwinners for first-year coach Emily Oren, who has hopes of improving on last year's 6-17 overall record.

The Cardinals have three seniors on the roster, including returnees Aarthi Kaviyarasu (opposite hitter) and Carsen Komminsk (setter). Also back are juniors Megan Freeman (libero), Regan Morgan (outside hitter) and sophomores Layne Keegan (setter) and Gabrielle Ramsay (middle blocker).

Kaviyarasu was honorable mention all-OCC-Central last year.

Completing the roster are junior Sydney Summey (outside hitter) and sophomores Rebecca Gerlach-Hobbs (outside hitter) and Brie Wright (middle blocker).

"All of our players worked very hard in the offseason to get stronger, faster and more disciplined in their position," said Oren, who replaced Anthony Chappel after his one season guiding the program. "Our hitters are hitting harder than they have in the past, our setters are moving faster to the ball and our defense is getting a lot of touches on defensive balls and serve receive."

Thomas was 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Delaware on Aug. 30. The Cardinals beat Marion Harding 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-14 in their season opener Aug. 20 and rallied to beat Hilliard Bradley 19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 15-9 in their league opener Aug. 23 before losing to Dublin Jerome 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 in league play Aug. 25.

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Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 20 -- OHSAA Early Season Invitational at National Trail Raceway

Sept. 3 -- Duels at DeWine Farm in Cedarville

Sept. 10 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 17 -- Louisville (Ky.) Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational

Sept. 24 -- Saturday Night Lights at Centerville

Oct. 8 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at home

Oct. 15 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Hilliard Bradley

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 20 -- at Marion Harding

*Aug. 23 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*Aug. 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

*Aug. 30 -- at Delaware

Sept. 3 -- at Hamilton Township

*Sept. 6 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

*Sept. 8 -- at Hilliard Darby

*Sept. 13 -- at Kilbourne

*Sept. 15 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*Sept. 20 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Sept. 21 -- vs. Delaware

Sept. 24 -- Sherril Appelfeller Classic at Marion Elgin

Sept. 26 -- vs. Centennial

*Sept. 29 -- at Dublin Scioto

Oct. 1 -- vs. Logan

Oct. 4 -- vs. Newark

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

Oct. 10 -- vs. Canal Winchester

Oct. 11 -- at Reynoldsburg

*Oct. 13 -- vs. Kilbourne

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball, boys water polo and girls water polo teams:

FIELD HOCKEY

Sept. 2 -- At Toledo St. Ursula Academy

*Sept. 7 -- At Olentangy Orange

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 7 -- Olentangy Liberty at Kinsale

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 6 -- Olentangy Orange at Mentel Memorial

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 1 -- At Westerville North

*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 1 -- Home vs. Olentangy

*Sept. 6 -- At Dublin Jerome

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 1 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

*Sept. 6 -- At Hilliard Darby

BOYS WATER POLO

Sept. 2-3 -- Erie (Pa.) McDowell Cup

GIRLS WATER POLO

Sept. 2-3 -- Erie (Pa.) McDowell Cup

*League contest