Led by all-regional runners Gia Napoleon, Carina Napoleon and Lydia Miller, the Thomas Worthington High School girls cross country team is headed to the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
The Cardinals finished third (101 points) in the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North behind Hilliard Davidson (38) and Granville (68), as the top five teams and top 20 individuals qualified for state.
“We’ll be looking to go out on a high note, for sure,” coach Andy Cox said. “We’ve got two seniors (Gia Napoleon and Tori Banks) who want to go out with their best race and all of them want to go into the offseason or into the track season with momentum.
“The OHSAA changed the (state) course this year, so we’ll be going over there to look things over the day before. But we’re all excited and ready to go.”
At regional, Gia Napoleon placed 11th of 133 runners in 19 minutes, 13.3 seconds. Carina Napoleon finished 18th (19:38.2) and Miller was 20th (19:41.3).
Also competing were Morgan Edwards (35th, 20:21.1), Banks (39th, 20:27.4), Michelina Guerra (44th, 20:40.1) and Abby Moulton (84th, 21:30.2).
“I thought Morgan and Tori both stepped up big,” Cox said. “They passed a lot of runners in the last 800 meters and they were competing for every spot. You never know how things will turn out in the regional and you have to anticipate that every spot matters.”
Before the meet, Cox thought the team was ready to go, thanks to the leadership of Gia Napoleon.
“She kept everyone calm before the race and she stayed calm early when she got spiked in the first 800 meters,” Cox said. “She had a bloody leg, but gutted it out and never blinked. She’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached and she’s very humble. She’s a terrific leader.”
Juniors Nate Johnson and Zubin Jha will represent the boys team at state after advancing as individuals from the regional. Johnson placed sixth (16:18.5) of 127 runners and Jha was 17th (16:32.2).
The Cardinals just missed advancing as a team, placing sixth (176) behind champion Davidson (95). Pickerington North (165) earned the final state berth.
Also competing for the Cardinals were Noah Silliman (44th, 17:11), Andres Mira (59th, 17:19.6), Jack Caine (86th, 17:38), Victor Nash (99th, 17:56) and Wesley Horton (103rd, 17:59.3).
Field hockey team returns to state
The field hockey team is seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive state championship this week at Upper Arlington.
The Cardinals will play Hudson in a state semifinal at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, with the winner facing Columbus Academy or Cincinnati Ursuline Academy in the state final at 1 p.m. the following day.
Thomas defeated host Hudson 3-1 on Sept. 15 when senior attacker Julia Scharff, senior midfielder Rachel Rinaldi and sophomore midfielder Mollie Estepp scored and senior goalkeeper Isabelle Perese made five saves.
The Cardinals’ lone loss this season came against Columbus Academy, 4-0 on Sept. 26.
“We can’t even begin to think about the possibility of redemption against (Columbus Academy) because we have to focus solely on a very strong Hudson team,” said coach Terri Simonetti Frost, whose team has won the last three state championships and six titles overall. “They’ve got a few outstanding players in (midfielder) Reese Stiller and (forward) Grace Hildebrand and a first-year head coach (Louis Knox).”
Thomas beat Hudson 3-0 in the 2015 state final. The Explorers, who are 16-3, have won three state titles.
The second-seeded Cardinals advanced to state by beating third-seeded Kilbourne 7-1 in a district final Oct. 27 at Olentangy Liberty, as Sarah Charley scored four goals.
Charley got the Cardinals on the scoreboard with 14:21 left in the first half and Anneliese Sinclair scored at the 9:04 mark before Charley added her second goal 59 seconds later to give Thomas a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Charley added two goals in the second half and Leila Boussedra and Bella Avila also scored as the Cardinals stretched their lead to 7-0 before the Wolves’ Gracie Burford scored on a penalty shot with four minutes remaining.
Boys soccer team finished strong
The 23rd-seeded boys soccer team lost to sixth-seeded Olentangy 3-2 in overtime in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24 to finish 6-11-2.
The Cardinals went 6-4-1 in their final 11 games under first-year coach David Fairchild after starting 0-7-1.
Thomas is losing 14 seniors, including forwards Andrew Gao (first-team all-OCC-Cardinal) and Jon Tchounguen (first-team all-league) and defenders Nate Baer (second-team all-league) and Tommy Swift (special mention all-league).
Among the expected returnees are junior midfielder Drew Holman (honorable mention all-league) and sophomore goalie Rye Conley.
Boys water polo team closes season
A year after winning the state championship, the boys water polo team finished 8-25-1, going 1-4 in the state tournament Oct. 26 and 27 at Mason and Cincinnati Princeton to place 13th.
The Cardinals did not have any seniors on their roster. Among the expected returnees are juniors Derek Taylor, Evers Brandy and Yashar Bakhshaeisarand and sophomore goalie Ashton Roderer.
The girls team went 3-1 and finished fifth of 10 teams at state Oct. 19 and 20 at Mason and Princeton.
The Cardinals, who finished 14-20, are losing three seniors in Bianca Crank, Maddie Holub and Julia Nelson.
Among the expected returnees are juniors Tatum Shank and Audrey Taylor and sophomore goalie Izzy Thomas.