The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls soccer team got an emotional lift heading into the Division I district tournament when it beat Pickerington Central 6-1 on Oct. 9 to gain a share of the OCC-Ohio Division championship.
The Lions finished 4-0-1 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Pickerington North for first place and win their second league title in three seasons.
Gahanna improved to 9-2-5 overall with a 1-0 win over Findlay on Oct. 13.
"I'm so proud of this team for clinching that OCC title," senior forward Mallory Beach said. "After just missing the title last year, we wanted to make sure that we didn't let it slip through our fingers again, and we didn't. … We started off a little rocky, but heading into the tournament, I know that everyone has the same mindset. We want to win and go as far as we can."
Gahanna is the seventh seed and opens the postseason with a second-round game Thursday, Oct. 18, at home against 37th-seeded Licking Heights. The winner plays 11th-seeded Canal Winchester, 20th-seeded Westerville North or 39th-seeded Groveport in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 27.
The Lions lost to Canal Winchester 1-0 on Aug. 17 in their season opener.
"It meant a lot to us to tie for the OCC championship this year," junior forward Katie Stafford said. "We've worked so hard throughout the season and even in the preseason. Every girl has done her best to prepare for these games and has been supportive and encouraging of one another. Going into the tournament, we're as prepared as we can be. Everyone is so excited about the tournament and we have a good shot of potentially claiming a district title."
Boys runners win league title
The boys cross country team won its second OCC-Ohio title in three seasons, scoring 41 points in the league meet Oct. 13 at Lancaster as Pickerington Central (54) finished second.
Riley Jackson placed fourth (16 minutes, 28.7 seconds) to lead the Lions, followed by Ben Towler (fifth, 16:30.5), Steffano Molina (seventh, 16:54.7), Ryan Mehalic (10th, 17:07.1), Mitchell Webb (15th, 17:16.2), Connor Hughes-Hemsoth (18th, 17:19.0) and Evan Pfeifer (19th, 17:26.7).
"It's a really big step," Jackson said. "Last year, we didn't have such a great time (at the league meet) because we had a couple guys injured. It's a good start to a good postseason. Ben (being) our No. 2 (finisher) was a big moment for our team. We've really gone to a lot of slow meets, so our times haven't showed our depth so far this year, but I think this meet really showed we have the possibility of putting in some good work for the postseason."
The girls scored 49 points in the league meet to finish as runner-up to Lancaster (42).
Alyssa Shope placed third (19:48.5) to lead the Lions, followed by Elise Wunderlin (eighth, 20:11.4), Riley Dickson (11th, 20:36.0), Ari Redmond (13th, 21:03.), Areli Ramos-Ochoa (14th, 21:03.5), Tara Shope (15th, 21:07.8) and Sara Buckner (16th, 21:10.9).
"They're used to success," coach Ernie Ziegler said. "We didn't run terrible, we didn't run great. We've got to renew our hunger and our drive and get back after it."
Both teams open the postseason Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Division I district meet.
The boys are competing in district 1 and the girls are in district 3. The top five teams and top 20 individuals in district 1 and the top six teams and top 24 individuals in district 3 advance to the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
Volleyball team begins tourney play
The 16th-seeded girls volleyball team opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 17 at eighth-seeded Watterson or at home against 39th-seeded Westerville South in a second-round match.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Pickerington Central, 14th-seeded Hamilton Township, 35th-seeded Whetstone or 38th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Whitehall. The district final Oct. 27 at Whitehall.
The Lions fell short in their bid to win a share of the OCC-Ohio title as they lost to Central 25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17 on Oct. 11 to finish 7-3 in the league behind co-champions Central and Grove City (both 8-2).
Gahanna was 11-10 overall after losing to Watterson 26-24, 25-10, 25-20 in its regular-season finale Oct. 13.
"Our team (has been) working on being more consistent," junior middle hitter Anna Nie said. "We're working on running a high-level offense with more tempo. At this point in the season, it's polishing up the details of what we've been working on all season. This is all possible with watching film, finding other teams' weaknesses and executing on the court."
Boys soccer team set to begin tourney
The 17th-seeded boys soccer team begins the Division I district tournament Saturday, Oct. 20, with a second-round game at 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or at home against 42nd-seeded Briggs.
The winner plays eighth-seeded Westerville Central, 44th-seeded Newark or 47th-seeded Franklin Heights in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the home of the better seed.
The district final is Oct. 27.
The Lions are 5-5-6 overall entering the postseason and closed the regular season with a 2-all tie against Pickerington Central on Oct. 9 to finish 2-1-2 in the OCC-Ohio.
Against Central, Tareeq Chambers and Josh Gates each scored and goalkeeper Payton Smith made five saves.
Davis closes stellar girls golf career
A rough back nine kept senior Kayla Davis of the girls golf team from qualifying for the Division I state tournament for the second consecutive season.
Davis shot a 35 on the front nine but just 42 on the back nine for a 77 that placed her ninth at the district tournament Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek. Upper Arlington's Emily Hummer shot a 75 to earn the second and final individual state berth.
After missing advancing to state by three strokes as a sophomore, Davis was co-medalist at last year's district tournament and placed 20th at state.
Gahanna and DeSales each shot 372 in the sectional Oct. 2 at Mentel Memorial, but the Stallions won the fifth-score tiebreaker to advance to district.
The Lions were runners-up (16-4) in the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament behind Pickerington North (20-0) as Davis was overall league medalist for the third consecutive year with a 71.8 average. Sophomore Elise Wenz was fifth in the league with an 83.3 average to also make first-team all-league, and junior Alexis Buck averaged 99.8 to earn honorable mention all-league honors.
Junior Alexis Harris and freshmen Molly Cepek and Taylor Patterson also were key contributors.
Boys golf season ends at district
The boys golf team finished fourth (317) in the 12-team Division I district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley as Dublin Jerome (293) and St. Charles (309) advanced to state and Olentangy Orange placed third (313).
Olentangy Liberty also shot a 317 but the Lions won the fifth-score tiebreaker.
Three of Gahanna's top six players are eligible to return in junior Dylan Errington, who shot a 78 at district, and sophomores Mitchell Soma and Max Hahn, who shot a 77 and an 82, respectively.
"We have three from varsity that are (coming back)," Soma said. "I feel pretty confident we can do well again next year."
Seniors Michael Hahn (80) and Drew Bailey (83) rounded out the Lions' scoring at district.
Gahanna, which still is seeking its first state berth, defended its OCC-Ohio championship by going 20-0 in the four-round league tournament as Errington was runner-up in league average (75.8) and was joined on first-team all-league by Soma (77.8) and Hahn (78.0) while Bailey (78.5) made the second team. Another key player was senior Sam Moore.