As the Grove City High School cross country program prepared for the season, sixth-year coach Joe Dollins asked his top athletes to help set an example for the less experienced runners.
"I have a good group of kids again this year, a bigger team than last year," Dollins said. "I have another great senior class that is helping with the practices and keeping the younger students motivated and teaching them different race strategies. They're working hard, practicing hard and doing everything that I ask."
Grove City has 55 boys and girls in the program compared to 44 last season and 35 in 2016.
The top returnee for the girls is junior Lindsay Donaldson. She led the Greyhounds in the Division I, district 3 meet last season, finishing 48th (20 minutes, 59.26 seconds) of 125 runners, and is hoping to advance to her first regional.
Senior newcomer Madeline Zezuto has been competing with Donaldson for the top spot. Zezuto previously played on the girls soccer team.
"Maddie really pushes me," Donaldson said. "We really work well together. We push each other during the races. I (give) her tips on how to run the race and what the best strategies (are)."
Sophomore returnee Laney Hoyt has been competing in the third spot and sophomore Ella Moscinski has been the No. 4 runner, followed by junior Laura Cruz and senior Alyssa Fuchs.
Also back is senior Sumer McWilliams, who finished 68th (21:38.47) at district last season and is expected to be in the team's top seven.
The Greyhounds finished seventh (93 points) of 16 teams in the Canal Winchester Invitational on Aug. 29 behind champion Bexley (40). Zezuto was 16th (21:44.5) and Donaldson was 19th (22:02.7) of 93 runners.
Grove City was 17th (411) of 27 teams in the Bengal Division of the Pickerington Classic on Aug. 25 at Pickerington North behind champion Olentangy Berlin (102). Donaldson was 43rd (22:15.12) of 342 runners.
The top returnees for the boys team are senior Adam Meister and junior Zach Elliott, who have been competing for the No. 1 spot. Last season, Meister was 47th (17:17.2) and Elliott was 93rd (18:56.12) in the district 3 meet.
Senior Johnny Gilbert, juniors Spencer Markham, Ben Rutledge and Brayden Smith and freshman Bryan Ransburgh have been competing for the third spot. Markham also plays for the boys soccer team.
Seniors Nick Bruce and Andrew Paduchik, junior Trey Harkins and sophomore Gregory Kingsbury also are looking to contribute.
The Greyhounds finished seventh (180) of 16 teams in the Canal Winchester Invitational behind champion New Albany (69). Elliott was eighth (17:59.7) and Markham was 21st (18:32.9) of 135 runners.
Grove City finished 11th (330) of 24 teams in the Bengal Division at North behind champion Mount Gilead (25) as Elliott was 17th (17:50.08) of 346 runners.
The Greyhounds must replace 2018 graduate Evan Whitaker, who finished 52nd (17:01) in his first regional meet last season and is running at Wilmington.
"Zach and Adam are probably our top two Greyhounds who have replaced Evan," Dollins said. "Evan was a heck of a runner. ... They have been running strong and running really well. It's a good, friendly competition. They're great friends on the team and in the classroom and they push one another and work hard."
Last season, the boys finished fifth (151) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet behind champion North (36) and the girls were sixth (149) behind champion Gahanna (26).
"The OCC-Ohio is one of the most competitive divisions in the state of Ohio," Dollins said. "It's some of the best talent in the state and my boys and girls are going to compete and give it our best and try to finish in the top half of the OCC come October."
Boys golf team vies in league play
The boys golf team competed in the third round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 28 at Denison Golf Club, finishing fourth (329) behind first-place Gahanna (320).
Jeremiah Bane led Grove City with a 79, followed by Ian Johnston (82), Nathan Eberle (83), Nash Linder (85) and Connor Estep (94).
The fourth and final round is Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Turnberry.
Sauer leads girls golf team
Lizzie Sauer led the girls golf team in the third round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 28 at Westchester, shooting a 76.
Abby Jones had an 82 and Katie Thrun had a 93 as the Greyhounds finished third (353) behind first-place Pickerington North (328).
The fourth and final round is Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Royal American.
Aug. 20 -- New Albany Classic
Aug. 25 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North
Aug. 29 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Sept. 1 -- Best of the South-West Invitational at Westland
Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 22 -- Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 29 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 3 -- Hilliard Darby Dash
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Lancaster
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys golf, girls golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 8 -- Hickory Hills Invitational at Hickory Hills
Sept. 10 -- OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Ohio at Turnberry
Sept. 6 -- Westerville Central at Oakhurst
Sept. 11 -- Westerville South at Pinnacle
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Ohio at Royal American
Sept. 11 -- At Watkins Memorial
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Ready
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Sept. 11 -- At Ready