Olentangy High School boys cross country coach Ken Whalen called the Division I, district 1 race "the district of death," considering it featured four of the top 10 teams in second-seeded Orange, fourth-seeded Gahanna, ninth-seeded Thomas Worthington and 10th-seeded Dublin Jerome.
That the Braves edged one of those teams for their first regional berth since 2015 made the day even sweeter Oct. 20 at Hilliard Darby.
Sam Holt finished eighth in 16 minutes, 12.2 seconds and Carter Schaefer was 12th in 16:38.0, leading Olentangy to 115 points and fifth place behind champion Gahanna (63) as 13 teams scored. The top five teams advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North, and the Braves finished 11 points ahead of sixth-place Jerome.
"There were a lot of strong teams and a lot of strong runners in this race so it's a great achievement for us to make it out," Holt said. "It was pretty exciting to have such a competitive race. If we could get up there, we knew the times would come."
Also scoring for Olentangy were Mikey Worboy (19th, 16:54.4), Chandler Moyer (32nd, 17:29.9) and Luke Galloway (44th, 17:55.0).
Schaefer was the Braves' fourth runner at regional in 2015, when they finished last of 16 teams.
"It's exciting to go back to the regional again," he said. "I had a good freshman year and I feel like I've really developed more this year than I have since then. I've been doing more high-mileage weeks."
The boys team will be joined at regional by girls runners Lex Brookshire and Alice Pozzi.
Brookshire finished second (18:43.0) in district 3 and Pozzi was 19th (19:51.7) as the Braves finished seventh (180) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (25) as 15 teams scored. The top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to regional.
Also scoring were Ashleigh Niklaus (46th, 21:01.7), Hannah Moore (56th, 21:21.4) and Gracie James (57th, 21:21.6).
At regional, the top five runners and top 20 individuals advance to the state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
Boys soccer team rolls in tourney wins
The boys soccer team did not allow a goal in its first two Division I district tournament games, beating visiting and 43rd-seeded Big Walnut 5-0 on Oct. 17 before a 6-0 home win over 48th-seeded Marion Harding on Oct. 20.
Sixth-seeded Olentangy was 12-4-2 before playing host to 21st-seeded Thomas in a district semifinal Oct. 24.
The winner will play fourth-seeded Pickerington North or 19th-seeded Grove City in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, at a neutral site to be determined. The district champion will play Darby, Hilliard Bradley, Liberty or Westerville Central in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 31, at a neutral site.
Of those teams, the Braves defeated Grove City 4-1 on Sept. 1 and Bradley 4-1 on Oct. 11, lost to Central 2-1 on Sept. 24 and Liberty 3-0 on Oct. 9 and played Darby to a scoreless tie Sept. 11.
Girls soccer team wins tourney opener
The girls soccer team got out to a fast start as it sought its first Division I district championship since 2015, beating visiting and 42nd-seeded Briggs 6-0 in the second round Oct. 18.
Olivia Johnston scored two goals to lead fifth-seeded Olentangy, which improved to 12-3-2 and played host to sixth-seeded Davidson in a district semifinal Oct. 23.
The winner will play fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman or 10th-seeded Orange in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, at a neutral site. The district champion will play New Albany, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North or Westerville Central in a regional semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 30, at a neutral site.
Of those teams, the Braves defeated Orange 2-1 on Oct. 13 to win the outright OCC-Buckeye Division championship, beat Westerville Central 6-0 on Sept. 25 and lost to North 2-0 on Oct. 4.
Volleyball team advances in tourney
The girls volleyball team tried to draw closer to its first district championship since 2008 when it played 12th-seeded Jerome in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23.
The winner will play sixth-seeded Pickerington Central or eighth-seeded Watterson in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, at Whitehall. The district champion will advance to a regional semifinal Nov. 1.
Third-seeded Olentangy was 18-5 before playing Jerome. The Braves opened the postseason with a 25-27, 25-12, 25-14, 25-16 win over visiting and 27th-seeded Lancaster in a second-round match Oct. 17.
Field hockey team wraps up season
With her team's top two scorers and both goalkeepers expected to return, field hockey coach Biz Brehm is optimistic that the Braves can return to recent form despite going just 5-10-1 overall and 3-5 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West this season.
Junior forwards Ciara Szerencsits and Anna Barstow had six and four goals, respectively, and senior midfielder Grace Cory added three goals. Olentangy was seeded 13th in the 18-team district tournament but lost its only postseason game, 3-0 at eighth-seeded New Albany in the second round Oct. 16.
"Our record was not as good as it has been the last couple of years, (but) that just means we have to set our sights higher for next year," Brehm said. "I am optimistic moving into next season with another great group of leaders coming back and some pretty awesome talent coming in. The seniors from this year will be dearly missed. They have left quite a legacy."
Brehm used two goalies, junior Maddi Martin and sophomore Dani Beidelman.
The Braves won consecutive games in late September, defeating Hartley 2-1 on Sept. 26 and Jerome 4-2 the next day.
"That was the best game that we played the entire season," Brehm said of the win over Jerome. "The kids played hard and they played as a unit."