Aubrey Wrona tried to look on the bright side after a right ankle injury forced her to the bench for the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team's match against Grove City on Oct. 3.
The senior outside hitter rarely has left the court since becoming a starter as a sophomore, but she got to see things from a different perspective in a 25-21, 21-25, 25-21, 25-22 loss to the Greyhounds that dropped the Lions into second place in the OCC-Ohio Division.
"It was tough, but it was nice to see the team work together," Wrona said.
The 5-foot-10 Wrona spent significant time icing her injury after landing on an opponent's foot during a recent match, but she returned for a 25-15, 25-12, 25-16 victory over Lancaster on Oct. 5.
In the match she missed, Grove City scored 67 points off Gahanna errors.
It's been a growing season for the Lions, who were Division I regional runners-up a year ago and are the seventh seed for this year's district tournament.
Gahanna is in the same bracket as second-seeded Olentangy Liberty, which it lost to 25-21, 20-25, 25-15, 25-20 on Aug. 24.
The Lions were 13-6 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Ohio before closing league play Oct. 10 against Pickerington Central.
"Even though we have a lot of new players, we shouldn't finish much different than last year," Wrona said. "We should definitely go to (a district semifinal) and I'm hoping we can go to the regional, so we want to pretty much finish close to last year."
Having a healthy Wrona could be vital to the Lions' remaining goals.
Pickerington North was 8-1 in the OCC-Ohio heading into its league finale Oct. 10 at Grove City, as it was looking to end Gahanna's two-year hold on the title.
The Lions play their regular-season finale Thursday, Oct. 12, at home against Olentangy Orange, which was 17-3 after beating DeSales 13-25, 8-25, 25-12, 25-18, 15-12 on Oct. 9.
"I definitely think (our tough schedule) will help us," Wrona said. "We're playing good competition. Every time we play Pickerington North it's a hard game, so it really prepares us for going to five sets and playing competitively.
"We have a lot of underclassmen that have stepped up and people who might not have played varsity before are doing awesome."
Heading into matches Oct. 9, Wrona was second among players in the OCC-Ohio in kills with 227. She was third on the Lions in serving aces (22) and also has been one of their top defensive players, ranking third in digs (168) behind junior libero Madison Martinez (365) and senior setter Sophia Easton (208) and second in serves received (240) behind Martinez (251).
Wrona, who has committed to Clarion University, is planning to study biology on a pre-med track and possibly psychology as a minor or double major. She participated in an internship over the summer at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
"She's worked really hard to get where she's at," coach Molly Martin said.
Football team looks to snap skid
The football team plays host to Lancaster on Friday, Oct. 13, in a matchup of teams that are 4-3 overall.
The Lions lost to Reynoldsburg 21-14 on Oct. 6 to fall to 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio while the Golden Gales lost to Pickerington Central 14-13 the same night to slip to 1-1 in the league.
Although junior quarterback Mike Lowery and junior running back Justus Harris were injured in a 45-8 loss to Central on Sept. 29, both played against the Raiders.
Lowery was 6-for-13 passing for 37 yards before senior David Miller replaced him in the second half and went 11-for-16 for 65 yards with two interceptions.
Harris rushed 17 times for 101 yards and one touchdown, and Miller rushed 10 times for 99 yards and one score.
Gahanna remains in contention for a Division I, Region 2 playoff berth while Lancaster is trying to remain in the thick of the Division I, Region 3 playoff race.
Lancaster got a pair of touchdown runs against Central by Shea Goss, including a 3-yarder with 8 minutes, 29 seconds remaining, but the Gales missed what would have been the game-tying extra point.
Goss rushed 24 times for 129 yards and D.J. Pearson had 16 carries for 43 yards to lead the Gales' wing-T offense. Quarterback Tyler Monk was 3-for-8 passing for 18 yards.
"They're a different style than what we're used to seeing (with us) going back-to-back against spread teams, and then you get a wing-T power team," coach Bruce Ward said. "We've got to try and get healthy, and we'll get better."
Doubles team makes district
Seniors Natalie Chen and Reegan Pomponio will represent the girls tennis team in the Division I district tournament Thursday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Bradley.
If they win their first two doubles matches, they'll compete Saturday, Oct. 14, at Upper Arlington. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Chen and Pomponio finished fourth in a sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at Pickerington Central and will play New Albany's Makena Romagnano and Valentina DiLorenzo, who won the Reynoldsburg sectional title, in a first-round district match.
"Making it to district is a great accomplishment," coach Chris Schwinnen said. "I couldn't be prouder of (Chen and Pomponio). They're two very deserving players."
In singles at sectional, sophomore Maddie Herrmann lost in the second round and senior Jennifer Jackson and junior Rachel Becker both lost in the first round. Jackson won a play-in match.
Also in doubles, seniors Ankita Satish and Sara McCloud lost 6-1, 6-0 to Lillia Walter and Madi Burris of Watkins Memorial in a quarterfinal.
Girls golfers make district tourney
The girls golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek, with the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
The Lions were runners-up (339) behind Dublin Jerome (314) in a 12-team sectional Oct. 3 at Mentel Memorial as the top three advanced to district.
Junior Kayla Davis was medalist with a 74 and freshman Elise Wenz tied for ninth with an 84. Also competing were senior Chelsea Regner (90) and sophomores Emma Cepek (91) and Alexis Buck (96).
"I was just hoping they would finish third," said coach Patty McQuirt, whose team edged Dublin Coffman (346) for second. "They were so excited to finish second in front of Coffman. They have a little more confidence in their game now."
The Lions didn't advance to district last season but Davis made it as an individual and placed 16th with an 82 to miss advancing to state by three strokes.
Gahanna made its only previous state team appearance in 2011.
Boys golfers qualify for district
The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley, with the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
The Lions were seeking their first state berth as a team.
In a 13-team sectional Oct. 3 at Turnberry, the Lions were runners-up (308) behind Liberty (304) as the top three teams advanced to district.
Junior Michael Hahn and freshman Mitchell Soma both shot 75 to tie for second. Senior Jake Simone tied for 13th (78), sophomore Dylan Errington was 18th (80) and junior Drew Bailey was 22nd (82).
Soma has been the team's No. 5 player.
"It's definitely been a journey," he said. "I've had to overcome obstacles like some bad 9s and I'd recover on the back 9 or the next round. The thing I like about our team is that we're all friends."
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Lancaster
Oct. 21 -- At 12th-seeded Hilliard Davidson or home vs. 22nd-seeded Reynoldsburg in second round of Division I district tournament. Gahanna is the 18th seed.
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. New Albany
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg or 31st-seeded Marion Harding in second round of Division I district tournament. Gahanna is the third seed.
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 21st-seeded Chillicothe or 44th-seeded Teays Valley in second round of Division I district tournament. Gahanna is the seventh seed.