The Reynoldsburg High School boys soccer team is looking to get over the hump this season.
Following a 3-7-6 finish in 2015, the Raiders improved to 9-8-1 in 2016 and went 7-4-6 last fall, including placing fourth in the OCC-Ohio Division at 1-2-2.
Reynoldsburg is striving to move from being a middle-of-the-pack program in central Ohio after being seeded 22nd of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament last season. However, the Raiders lost 14 players to graduation and now must rely on a group of players with limited varsity experience.
"We graduated a lot," third-year coach Tony Labudovski said. "These kids are learning a lot. Almost all of these kids are from the (junior varsity) so there's an adjustment to the varsity speed of play, but you've just got to adapt really quickly because you don't have too much time with these boys. They're getting it."
Reynoldsburg was 1-1-2 overall before playing Sept. 1 at Watkins Memorial, including tying defending Division I district champion Westerville South at 1 on Aug. 28.
The Raiders opened Aug. 17 with a scoreless tie against Groveport, lost to Upper Arlington 2-1 on Aug. 23 and beat Licking Heights 2-0 on Aug. 25.
Junior forward Nick Wallace scored each of the team's first three goals this season and junior midfielder Jackson Harms scored against South.
Sophomore goalkeeper Brady Frydl had eight saves against Groveport and nine saves against South.
Other key returnees are seniors Suijit Khatiwoda (midfielder), Nishan Pokwal (midfielder) and Patrick Young (midfielder) and junior Nate Russell (defender).
Rounding out the senior class are Grant Lovelace (goalie) and Ivan Ludwig (forward/midfielder).
Also on the roster are juniors Collin Bradley (defender), Yobal Fishation (midfielder), Elijah Harris (midfielder), Aidan Hasson (defender), Gabriel McCarroll (forward), Sanjock Poudel (forward/midfielder), Pawan Rai (midfielder) and Kevonn Rayford (defender) and sophomores Moises Ayala (midfielder) and Crofton McDevitt (midfielder).
"The kids are adjusting pretty quickly," Labudovski said. "They understand what their goals are and they're coachable. That's the main thing."
Running program continuing to mature
Underclassmen comprised most of the lineup for both the boys and girls cross country teams last season.
Many of those same runners have returned this season, which has second-year coach Bill Crane feeling encouraged about the state of the program.
On Aug. 25 in the 33rd annual Dan Reid Invitational at Whitehall, the girls finished runner-up (59 points) behind Bexley (24) of five teams and the boys were fourth (93) of seven teams behind champion Canal Winchester.
The top returnee for the girls team is sophomore Avril Moyer, who finished 20th in 19 minutes, 58.98 seconds in the Division I, district 3 meet last season to qualify for the regional. She took first at the Dan Reid Invitational in 20:36.1.
Senior Natalie Castello, who finished ninth (22:45.9) at the Dan Reid Invitational, was the team's No. 3 runner at district last season.
"(The) girls team is young, but we have a decent amount of experience from last season," Crane said. "It will be interesting to see where this group of sophomores and freshmen can take the program the next few years. They've been fortunate to have a strong leader in Natalie Castello, who has really led by example. It's my hope that they see the dedication Nat has put into running and follow her lead the next few years. It's important we take another step forward this season."
Also returning for the girls team are sophomores Kasey Lichtner, Kristin Sheets and Rachel Watkins. Other key runners include freshmen Sydney Hurt, Abby Robinson and Bemnet Shewaye.
Sophomore Mars Davis is the top returnee for the boys team after leading the Raiders with a 68th-place finish (17:50.02) at last year's district 3 meet. He was 10th (18:37.6) at the Dan Reid Invitational.
Also returning are seniors Brody Swisher and Andy Young, junior Grant Boone and sophomore Dominic Sabo.
Senior Liam Bryan, junior Wendesen King, sophomores Kyle Cannon, Gavin Carr and Mekhi Dejarnette and freshman Andy Potter also are key competitors.
"The boys are young and inexperienced, for the most part," Crane said. "It will take much of the season to learn how to race and the importance of the little details. The experienced runners we have are still very young in this new system. They've adapted well and are developing. If the team can come together and really buy into what we're trying to do, they just might surprise some people. We want to learn how to compete and be competitive again, but again, it will be a process."
Boys golfers prep for final OCC round
The boys golf team will compete in the final round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Turnberry.
On Aug. 28 in the third round at Denison Golf Club, the Raiders had only three competitors and did not post a team score.
They are 0-15 in the league, with Gahanna sitting atop the standings at 15-0.
Jamison Boykins shot a 78 and Trey Alberts an 85 in the third round to lead Reynoldsburg. Boykins is tied for seventh overall in league average at 79, while Alberts is tied for 15th in the league at 83.7.
Robbie Crawford also has competed in all three rounds of the league tournament.
Aug. 25 -- Dan Reid Invitational at Whitehall
Aug. 29 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Sept. 1 -- Granville Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Sept. 4 -- Licking Heights Invitational
Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 15 -- Newark Invitational
Sept. 22 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster
Sept. 29 -- Pickerington North Invitational
Oct. 6 -- Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Lancaster
Aug. 17 -- at Groveport
Aug. 23 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Aug. 25 -- vs. Licking Heights
Aug. 28 -- at Westerville South
Sept. 1 -- at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 4 -- vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 6 -- at Hilliard Darby
Sept. 11 -- at Westland
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Gahanna
Sept. 15 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 17 -- vs. Whitehall
*Sept. 19 -- at Grove City
*Sept. 25 -- at Pickerington Central
*Oct. 2 -- at Pickerington North
Oct. 4 -- at Westerville North
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Lancaster
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 6 -- Newark at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 10 -- Hilliard Davidson at Thorn Apple
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Ohio at Turnberry
Sept. 6 -- At Delaware
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Newark
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Delaware
Sept. 8 -- At Westerville North
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Whitehall