After losing three of the top runners in program history to graduation, the Westerville Central High School girls cross country team entered the season with a new look.
McKenna Fry competed in the Division I state meet last season while Chloe Ey and Sydney Kapral competed at regional.
"You can't replace the girls that graduated the last two years," coach Ryan Borland said. "The group that we just sent off to college, all three are running there. You can't replace those kids, but we're hoping to continue to build on the successes we've had the last six seasons where we've been a good team every year and been very competitive. This is a young group."
The Warhawks return three key runners, including sophomore Ashley Hockstok, who has been battling a right leg injury. Borland is hoping Hockstok can recover from the injury and eventually emerge as a top runner.
"Right now I'm injured so (the season) isn't going as planned, but I had a good race at the beginning of the season and hopefully I can get back to where I was then," Hockstok said.
Also back are juniors Ellie Mallon and Remington Schultz, although Schultz has been battling a hip injury.
Freshman Tara Will, who also plays on the girls soccer team, has emerged as the No. 1 runner, according to Borland, and sophomore Lauryn Chapman has been the No. 2 runner.
Others looking to contribute include senior Olivia Loesch and sophomores Kennedy Callow and Allyson Okonak.
Loesch is new to the sport and should provide depth, according to Borland.
"We won't have the frontrunners that we've had, although if Ashley is healthy she is going to be decent," said Borland, who is in his 11th season.
Central opened by finishing fifth (109 points) of 10 teams in the Baron Blast on Aug. 25 at Buckeye Valley behind champion Jonathan Alder (36). Will was fifth (21 minutes, 6.67 seconds) and Chapman was 20th (22:20.31) of 132 runners.
"We were fifth without Ashley and Remington (at full strength) and both should be in our top three right now," Borland said. "Ashley had a great summer."
Fry finished 58th (19:14.3) at state last season and is running at Miami University, while Kapral is running at Xavier and Ey will compete in track and field at Ohio University.
Central finished fourth (83) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet last season behind champion Olentangy Liberty (36), and Borland doesn't see the Warhawks getting closer to the championship.
"Our OCC is tough anyway," he said. "We've been fourth the last couple of years. A great goal this year is to try to finish there again. By the end of the year, we'll have a competitive team, but we're not going to be as strong as we were the last few years."
Boys cross country team also has new look
The boys cross country team returns just two runners from last season's postseason lineup.
The Warhawks have been led by freshman Dominic Iquina, who finished 133rd (18:35.2) of 280 runners in the OHSAA Preseason Invitational on Aug. 18 at National Trail Raceway.
Central finished 27th (730) of 31 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (141).
Senior Jacob Owens, who finished 46th (17:32.93) at district last season, has been the No. 2 runner.
"We have a very strong core compared to last year," Owens said. "Last year we had a lot of people spread out (and) injured, it was very different. I think we have great atmosphere for a good year ... possibly (reaching) regional as a team."
Sophomore Haden Fulkerson has been the third runner, followed by freshman Chip Smith and junior Jeremy Gellner. Gellner was 75th (18:25.84) at district last year.
"One of our strengths this year is there are four guys who could in any given week be our No. 1 runner," said coach Jason Loughman, who is in his 16th season. "That's healthy for a team because they get competitive with each other and they're going to make each other better. They're all trying to be our No. 1 runner.
"We knew we would be young this year and last year we only had a few juniors on the team, but we were really impressed with some of the younger runners. We kind of knew what we were coming into."
Last season, Central finished fifth (115) in the OCC-Buckeye meet behind champion Liberty (31).
"The three Olentangys on paper are ahead of the three Westervilles," Loughman said. "A goal every year is obviously to try to rule the 'Ville, so we'll see how it all shakes out by the end of the season. Right now rather than worrying about beating other teams, we just need to get better individually and as a team and that will be a product of our hard work."
Boys golf team places second at league event
The boys golf team finished second (319) behind Olentangy Orange (318) in the third round of the OCC-Buckeye tournament Aug. 28 at Denison Golf Club.
Joshua Qian led the War-hawks with a 74, followed by Ryan Dollenmayer with a 79.
Central will compete in the fourth and final round Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Darby Creek.
Girls golf team to wrap up league play
The girls golf team finished third (398) behind first-place Orange (329) in the third round of OCC-Buckeye play Aug. 28 at Royal American.
Grace Welty led Central with a 98.
The Warhawks will compete in the fourth and final round Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Cooks Creek.
Aug. 18 -- Boys: OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway
Aug. 25 -- Girls: Baron Blast at Buckeye Valley
Sept. 1 -- Boys: Westerville North Classic; Girls: Granville Invitational
Sept. 15 -- Otterbein Invitational
Sept. 22 -- Boys: Malone University Invitational; Girls: Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster
Sept. 29 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley
Oct. 3 -- Backwoods 2-miler at Thornville Sheridan
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis teams and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Darby Creek
Sept. 6 -- Grove City at Oakhurst
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Cooks Creek
*Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 10 -- At North
*Sept. 6 -- At Westerville South
Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*Sept. 6 -- At Olentangy Orange
Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome