The Hilliard Darby High School girls tennis team defeated DeSales 4-1 on Sept. 28 for its seventh victory in its last nine matches.

The Panthers are 10-6 overall and finished 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

But now it's time to see if the strong finish will help the Panthers individually, as they will compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 7, at Bradley.

"Our record has improved greatly in the last few weeks as (senior) Vidhi Patel has rejoined," coach Erika Little said. "She was out for a month and a half taking ACT courses after school until 6:30 every night. We have been strong at doubles all year and adding Vidhi to the singles lineup has helped seal that third court and give us a few more wins."

Patel was 7-0 at third singles and senior Paige Taylor went 13-2 at second doubles.

At sectional, Patel and juniors Kelsie Huss and Sascha Smoot will play singles.

"It's a pretty good draw, but not a great one," said Patel, who will face Dublin Coffman's Lena Caruso in the first round. "My goal is to just go out there and play my best and see where that leads me."

Taylor and senior Grace Alexander will form one doubles team at sectional, while junior Sydney Davis and sophomore Nidhi Patel will comprise the other.

"I'm really excited to play with Grace like we did last year in doubles," Taylor said. "We're best friends and we have great chemistry. But she played singles (in the regular season) this year. I think we can win two or three matches to get into a district-qualifying match. Then we need to put all of our effort into that match no matter how tired we are or how hot it is."

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 12 at Bradley and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.

"I really think that Kelsie and Vidhi have a good chance to win a few matches in singles," Little said. "I think Paige and Grace could challenge to qualify for districts.

"I am hoping that all of the girls will be focused and finish matches strong to enjoy the tournament experience. They just need to go into the sectionals using what we've worked on all season, which is continued improvement and trying to perfect their skills and their tactics."

Santos sets record
for girls runners

Sophomore Daniella Santos set the program record for the girls cross country team when she won the Celtic Clash on Sept. 23 at Dublin Jerome in 17 minutes, 45.98 seconds.

Santos broke the previous mark of 17:58, set by Erika Alpeter in 2007.

"I wasn't expecting to break the record, but when I crossed the line, I could see my time and knew I did it," said Santos, who helped the Panthers finish first (32 points) ahead of runner-up Jerome (39) as only four teams scored. "I was pretty excited because it's a big accomplishment."

Anita Perie placed third (19:50.63) of 33 runners, followed by Abby Cannon (fourth, 19:26.08), Madison Murphy (11th, 20:47.68) and Erin Cowen (13th, 21:09.78).

Santos nearly topped her own record Sept. 30 in the home Midwest Meet of Champions, as she finished in 17:46.46 to place fifth of 186 runners. The Panthers placed 14th (328) in a 26-team field, behind champion Beavercreek (134).

"It was a bigger meet with a lot more fast girls, so I was a little nervous going into it," Santos said. "But I felt real good about it because it was such a strong meet."

Also scoring for Darby were Cannon (33rd, 19:15.56), Perie (40th, 19:23.97), Cowen (125th, 20:54.41) and Murphy (135th, 21:00.77).

The boys team placed second (37) in a five-team field in the Celtic Clash, behind Jerome (22), and was led by Dylan Newport (third, 16:10.8) and Owen Martin (sixth, 16:31.47). Sean Carney was eighth (16:46.45) of 43 runners, followed by Balaji Kurapati (ninth, 16:47.94) and Tyler Hessenauer (11th, 17:08.49).

In the Midwest Meet of Champions, Darby placed 19th (462) of 28 teams, behind champion Perrysburg (153). Newport was 27th (16:13.23) of 194 runners, followed by Martin (57th, 16:41.96), Eric Lowery (78th, 16:54.45), Josh Baldridge (139th, 17:32.88) and Spencer Torok (161st, 17:57.48).

Boys soccer team
handed first loss

The boys soccer team was beaten for the first time this season Sept. 26, falling to Watkins Memorial 3-1.

Trevor Burke scored, Nick Hermosilla made six saves and Brian Watkins made two saves for the Panthers, who rebounded to defeat Grove City 4-2 on Sept. 28.

Darby was 6-1-5 overall and 2-0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Thomas Worthington on Oct. 3.

Against Grove City, Josh Govine, Daniel Djelmis, Zach Jasper and Ty Spangler scored and Hermosilla made five saves.

The Panthers are ranked seventh in the Division I district poll.

Girls soccer team
winding down season

The girls soccer team defeated Watkins Memorial 7-1 on Sept. 26 and beat Grove City 2-0 on Sept. 28.

The Panthers, who entered the week with four games left in the regular season, were 7-2-3 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Thomas Worthington on Oct. 3.

Blair Cowan and Aaliyah Brletic both scored two goals against Watkins Memorial, while Natalie Brown, Naomi Walters and Carli Rigel each scored one. Cowan scored both goals against Grove City.

Darby is ranked seventh in the Division I district poll.

Postseason begins
for golf teams

The boys and girls golf teams began the postseason Oct. 3 in Division I sectionals.

The boys competed in a sectional at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Apple Valley.

The girls were in a sectional at Westchester, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.

From both district tournaments, the top two teams and two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to their respective state tournaments Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Darby cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Oct. 7 -- Darby Dash at home

BOYS SOCCER

Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Granville

*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Bradley

GIRLS SOCCER

Oct. 5 -- At Olentangy Liberty

*Oct. 10 -- At Bradley

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington. The Panthers beat the Cardinals 25-11, 25-15, 25-18 on Sept. 7.

*Oct. 10 -- At Bradley. The Panthers beat the Jaguars 25-18, 26-24, 17-25, 25-15 on Sept. 12.

*League contest