After not having a Division I regional qualifier last season, Grove City cross country coach Joe Dollins believes his athletes have the potential to reach that level this fall.
The Greyhounds return several runners who gained experience at district last season while also adding several competitors to provide more depth. There are 31 boys and 25 girls in the program, including 19 new runners.
"It's good competition during practice and also on race days," Dollins said. "Our numbers are strong for the boys and girls teams. The new runners put in a lot of hard work in June and July. We're working hard and practicing hard and hopefully it will pay off come October (in the OCC-Ohio Division) and district (meets)."
For the boys, Dollins said a competition has developed for the No. 1 spot.
Senior Spencer Markham has missed the early season with stress fractures in his shins, but Dollins expects him to eventually compete for the top spot.
"Spencer was putting up stellar times in August," said Dollins, who is in his seventh season. "I'm confident if he's healthy, he can qualify for regional. We have high hopes for Spencer."
Senior Zach Elliott also is competing for the No. 1 position.
Seniors Brayden Smith and Ben Rutledge, junior Dylan Boso and sophomores Devin Dawson and Bryan Ransburgh also have been part of the top five.
Senior Tyler Fulk and sophomore Danny Regan have been competing for the seventh spot, according to Dollins.
The teams opened Aug. 19 in the New Albany Invitational. Rutledge led the boys, finishing 36th (19:28.6) of 203 runners, followed by Smith (40th, 19:48.4), Ransburgh (48th, 20:12.4), Boso (58th, 20:46.6), Fulk (68th, 20:58.5), Dawson (70th, 21:00.6) and Regan (72nd, 21:05.9).
The boys finished eighth (198) of 10 teams behind champion New Albany (35).
Elliott was 19th (17:42) and Smith was 27th (18:00.6) in the Pickerington North Classic on Aug. 24, as the Greyhounds finished 12th (271) of 20 teams behind champion McDermott Northwest (104).
The girls have been led by senior Lindsay Donaldson and junior Laney Hoyt, who have been competing for the top spot.
Donaldson was the team's top returning performer from district, having finished 44th (22:02.3) last season.
"This year I definitely plan on trying to make it to regional (for the first time)," Donaldson said. "It would mean a lot. It would mean that my hard work paid off."
Hoyt led Grove City at New Albany by finishing 40th (23:33.59), followed by Donaldson (52nd, 24:31), senior Laura Cruz (57th, 24:46.41), freshman Peyton Zelenak (61st, 25:03.87), senior Lauren Glass (79th, 26:14.16), junior Allison Walker (85th, 26:45.61) and sophomore Olivia Bartley (88th, 26:57.94).
The Greyhounds finished sixth (197) of eight teams behind champion Bexley (21).
Hoyt finished 45th (22:44.5) and Donaldson was 46th (22:48.8) at North as the Greyhounds were 13th (395) of 24 teams behind champion New Albany (79).
Juniors Ella Moscinski and Gwen Wieging also should contribute.
"We have a lot of new runners, so it's definitely a learning experience for them," Donaldson said. "As they get more experience under their belts, they can turn out to be good, accomplished runners."
Evan Whitaker was the school's last regional qualifier, finishing 52nd (17:01.1) of 129 runners in 2017. He is now running at Wilmington College.
Saur earns medalist honors for second time
Led by Lizzie Saur, the girls golf team was in first place heading into the final round of the four-round OCC-Ohio Division tournament Sept. 4 at Mentel Memorial.
Saur earned medalist honors for the second time this season with a 75 in the third round Aug. 28 at New Albany Links.
Abby Jones shot an 84 for the Greyhounds.
Grove City finished second (364) behind North (360) and was 13-2 through three rounds, ahead of the second-place Panthers (12-3).
"I am very proud of the team this season," coach Megan Blaney. "We are first in the (OCC-Ohio), which is a first for us, and the girls are really excited and hopeful for the remaining season."
Boys golf coach seeks further progress
Boys golf coach Eric Joreski was pleased with his team's improvement through three rounds of the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament, but said it had yet to reach its potential.
The Greyhounds finished second (327) in the third round Aug. 27 at Denison Golf Club behind Gahanna (321).
Ian Johnston finished third (77) to lead Grove City. Jeremiah Bane and Trent Ruffing each shot 83, followed by Nash Linder (84) and Jackson Ware (90).
Grove City is fourth (9-6) entering the final round Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Turnberry behind first-place Pickerington Central (12-3).
"Our OCC play has been solid, but we have not played to our potential," Joreski said. "We are 9-6 in the league, so that is a positive, but we need to keep working to play to our potential. We have had some great team scores in tournaments outside of league play and need to carry that over to league play. We have had several great individual rounds in OCCs, but not collectively as a team."
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City cross country, boys golf, girls golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 7 -- Grove City Invitational at Hickory Hills
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Ohio at Turnberry
Sept. 5 -- Marysville and Westerville Central at Pinnacle
Sept. 10 -- Newark Catholic and Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Sept. 5 -- At Whitehall
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 5 -- At Bexley
*Sept. 10 -- At Lancaster
*Sept. 5 -- At Pickerington North
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
*Sept. 5 -- At Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 10 -- At Gahanna