The Thomas Worthington High School boys cross country team will compete in the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 5, at National Trail Raceway.

The Thomas Worthington High School boys cross country team will compete in the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 5, at National Trail Raceway.

That isn't much of a surprise given the Cardinals returned four of their top six runners from last season when they finished 15th at state.

But running away with the regional championship Oct. 29 at Pickerington North was a little surprising, according to coach Bill Darling.

"We qualify for state often, but we hadn't won a regional championship in 25 years," Darling said after the Cardinals scored 71 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Hilliard Davidson (146) as 15 teams scored. "It was fantastic. The boys worked hard all year to learn how to run these races. I'm very happy for them and proud of them.

"But we've got to carry the same strategy and effort into state because it's not an easy race to run. We can't let others dictate our race strategy."

Thomas was led at regional by Arjun Jha, who placed second (15 minutes, 31.49 seconds) of 117 runners, behind Olentangy Orange's Hunter Moore (15:28.48). Also placing in the top 10 were Andy Payne (fifth, 15:50.13) and Ty Banks (10th, 16:20.17).

Also competing for the Cardinals were Andrew Morgan (22nd, 16:41.14), Joshua Allen (41st, 17:09.18), Ian Cook (42nd, 17:09.7) and Ryan Gimeson (94th, 18:19.7).

The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state.

The girls team also advanced to state, as it was regional runner-up (121) to Gahanna (97) in a 16-team field.

Gia Napoleon finished 12th (19:52.69) of 117 runners and Hannah Moulton was 14th (19:53.36) to lead the Cardinals.

Also competing were Chris-tina Nash (26th, 20:25.46), Tori Banks (31st, 20:40.57), Lydia Miller (50th, 20:56.02), Cassidy Shaver (77th, 21:54.81) and Marcella Chavez (85th, 22:07.05).

Field hockey team returning to state

The field hockey team is another step closer to defending its state title.

The fourth-seeded Cardinals defeated top-seeded Columbus Academy 3-1 in a district final Oct. 29 at Olentangy Liberty to improve to 16-3 and advance to the state tournament.

Thomas will play Cincinnati Ursuline Academy in a state semifinal at noon Friday, Nov. 4, at Upper Arlington. The winner plays Liberty or Shaker Heights in the final at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at UA.

Thomas defeated Ursuline Academy 2-0 on Oct. 5 and beat the Lions 3-0 in a state semifinal last year. The Cardinals beat Liberty 2-1 on Oct. 15 and defeated Shaker Heights 3-0 on Sept 24.

"It's hard (to get to state)," coach Terri Simonetti Frost said. "Anybody who tells you it's not hard, they're lying and they've never coached before. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, especially losing six starters and having the majority of my team sophomores."

Maya McDaniel scored two goals and Rachel Rinaldi scored one against Academy.

"Columbus Academy is a very talented team and they have an excellent goalie and defense," Simonetti Frost said. "(Academy has) a defense this year that is stellar, so I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. ... I'm just really proud. This team is peaking at the right time. We're doing the things that we need to be doing at this time of year to advance to the next game."

Cardinals goalkeeper Isa-belle Perese had 11 saves against Academy, including a stop against Bailee Mueller on a penalty stroke with 1:19 remaining.

"Isabelle Perese is the difference-maker," Simonetti Frost said.

Boys water polo team places third at state

The boys water polo team finished third in the state tournament held Oct. 28 and 29 at Cincinnati Princeton and Mason.

The third-seeded Cardinals went 2-1 at state to finish 20-10. They defeated sixth-seeded Toledo St. Francis 11-9, lost to seventh-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier 17-8 and defeated fourth-seeded Dayton Oakwood 9-3 in the third-place game.

St. Xavier went on to win the title by beating top-seeded St. Charles 13-11 in the championship game.

"Brendon Zurovchak had a strong tournament and led us in scoring," coach Rick Yurich said. "Our goalie, Owen Roesch, blocked 65 percent of shots on goal, and Jack King led the team in steals and shut down our opponents' top scorers.

"Our goal entering the tournament was to finish third and we achieved that thanks to everyone's hard work."

The Cardinals are losing three senior starters in Daniel Maxwell, Alec Roderer and Reid Wollett. Among the expected returnees are five starters in juniors Parker Jones, Taylor Weinsz, King, Roesh and Zurovchak.

Girls soccer team falls in district final

The fifth-seeded girls soccer team lost to top-seeded Gahanna 2-0 in a Division I district final Oct. 29 at Westerville North to finish 13-5-1 overall.

Gahanna scored in the first two minutes of the game and the Cardinals never recovered.

Freshman goalie Michayla Gussler made six saves for Thomas, which lost in a district final for the third year in a row. The Cardinals fell 3-2 in overtime to Liberty in 2015 after losing to Dublin Coffman 5-4 in 2014.

Thomas, which had a first-round bye, defeated 38th-seeded Briggs 14-0 in the second round Oct. 20 and beat 14th-seeded Marysville 2-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 25. Both were home games.

Against Marysville, senior midfielder Grace DeLuca and senior defender Brianna Nauman both scored and Gussler made three saves.

Thomas went 3-2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place third, behind Dublin Jerome (6-0) and Hilliard Darby (4-1-1) and ahead of Delaware and Hilliard Bradley (both 2-4) and Dublin Scioto and Kilbourne (both 1-4-1).

The Cardinals are losing 13 seniors, including DeLuca, Nauman, midfielders Annie Howell and Elizabeth Cockerham, forward Rian Reid and defenders Callihan Clayton, Avery Filicky and Rachel Traxler.

DeLuca was named OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year. Howell also was named first-team all-league, while Clayton and Reid both were second-team all-league, Nauman was special mention all-league and Filicky was honorable mention all-league.

Among the expected return-ees are Gussler, juniors Lauren Hitt (midfielder) and Mary Beth Dreuntz (forward) and sophomores Breanne Beatty (midfielder) and Mackenzie Peeke (midfielder).

Boys soccer team ousted by Pioneers

The 22nd-seeded boys soccer team lost to 13th-seeded Orange 2-1 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 26 to finish 8-9-2 overall.

Senior midfielder Jaxson Szabo scored and senior goalie Jason Hamzee made five saves for Thomas, which had defeated the Pioneers 3-2 on Oct. 11.

The Cardinals played all three of its tournament games on the road. They defeated 20th-seeded Delaware 2-1 in the first round Oct. 19 and 10th-seeded Olentangy 4-3 in the second round Oct. 22.

Thomas went 2-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal to place sixth, behind Jerome (5-1), Delaware, Bradley and Darby (all 3-2-1) and Kilbourne (2-2-2) and ahead of Scioto (0-6).

The Cardinals are losing eight seniors, including Szabo, Hamzee, forward Kainnan Ramsey, midfielder Torin Rittenhouse and defenders Beelal Hasan and Jack Phallen.

Szabo made first-team all-league, Hasan was second-team all-league, Ramsey was special mention all-league and Hamzee was honorable mention all-league.

Among the expected returnees are juniors Mitch Ament (midfielder) and John Kennedy (midfielder) and sophomores Kyler Bock (defender) and Jon Tchounguen (forward).

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek