Before relocating to central Ohio about two decades ago, Jim McKay gained coaching experience in cross country at a high school in Seattle a couple hours away from where he grew up.
He's added more than a decade of coaching since that time, including six seasons with the New World Track Club in Columbus and nine seasons with St. Matthew School, an area Catholic feeder school.
This fall, McKay is back at the prep level, leading the Hartley boys and girls teams after Reggie Osborne headed the program the past five seasons. The transition has included strong starts for the both teams.
"As a group, the team put in far more summer miles than they have in the past and have embraced a new system," McKay said.
On Aug. 24 in the Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion, the girls team finished fourth (114 points) of 16 teams behind champion Fairfield Union (69) and the boys were fifth (145) of 20 teams behind champion Fredericktown (112).
Sophomore Rebecca Tepper, who finished 60th (22 minutes, 5.4 seconds) at the Division III regional meet last season for Columbus School for Girls, has joined the girls team and placed 12th (21:19.3) at the Newark Catholic Invitational to lead the Hawks.
Senior Katelyn Sheely, juniors Pailyn Groene, Ellie Kitsmiller, Megan Luallen and Anna Woods, sophomore Jarah Orndoff and freshmen Delaney McKay, Jackie Radous and Annie Trainer also have been among the team's top runners early on.
Others looking to contribute include freshmen Mary Kate Kitsmiller, Eva Tedrick and Anna Torrell.
Senior Chase Orndoff finished ninth (17:29.6) and junior Luke Vautour was 10th (17:34.2) to lead the boys team at the Newark Catholic Invitational.
Seniors Adam Dinovo, Cameron Johnson and Michael Petrella, juniors Luke Brandewie and Eayual Gebrtsadik and sophomore Simon Sybert also are key runners.
Juniors Zach Adams and Austin Bungard are others looking to contribute.
"With the work ethic and passion the kids have displayed thus far this season, we expect to contend for the CCL championship in both boys and girls," coach McKay said. "Additionally, we expect to be on the team vying for a state berth in boys and girls as well."
Field hockey team seeking progression
Following a 6-1 loss to Watterson on Aug. 21, members of the field hockey team smiled and cheered during their postgame talk.
The Hawks scored late in the game, showing a 'never quit' mindset that the team is embracing this fall.
Hartley, which went 3-14-1 overall and 1-7 in the COFHL-East Division last season, has several underclassmen playing key roles in addition to a large senior class.
"We were trying to fight and just gain momentum moving into games the rest of the season," third-year coach Bridget Ebenhack said. "We're getting more and more possession as time has gone on, but it hasn't resulted in more goals. We're waiting for that unlock to happen."
Leading the way are senior Audrey Ryan (forward), who was second-team all-league last season, and classmates Tori Garey (defender), Samantha Hanson (midfielder/forward) and Mia Innes (defender).
Junior Caitlin Abel (midfielder/forward) scored against Watterson.
Other key seniors include Amelia Chen (forward), Kylie Clark (forward), Isabella Hoffman (defender/midfielder/forward), Aidean Poliseno (goalkeeper) and Ava Roehrenbeck (forward).
Jenna Ryan (midfielder) also is starting despite being a freshman.
Others looking to contribute include seniors Asya Ector-Salaem (midfielder), Kennedy Porter (defender), Emma Ramsey (goalie) and Emma Steele (forward), juniors Alyssa Carfagna (midfielder/forward), Annie Hofherr (midfielder/forward), Sophia Kanowsky (midfielder/forward) and Grace Wolfinger (defender) and freshmen Brooke Burchfield (goalie) and Marie Burkhart (forward).
The Hawks were 1-3 overall before facing Olentangy Berlin on Sept. 4 and are 1-2 in the COFHL-East. They beat Bexley 2-1 in a league game Aug. 26.
"We're hoping to just keep building," Ebenhack said. "We still have some inconsistencies and are just waiting for it all to connect. We think we're capable of doing some good things this year if we can just bring it all together."
Football team preps for Pirates
After introducing senior running backs KiRon Anderson and Jalan January and senior quarterback Miles Fleming as some of his key players during CCL media day in mid-August, football coach Brad Burchfield joked that he liked junior Marcelis Parker "more than any of these guys."
Burchfield then remarked that the coaching staff also thinks highly of sophomore wide receiver Richard Kenny.
The point of the exchange is that Burchfield believes he's got a plethora of options offensively this fall.
"We'd be foolish not to use all of our people," Burchfield said. "I don't know what (opposing) coaches are saying, maybe that they've got to stop Miles or (running back) Mason (Sawyer)."
Hartley got its first chance to unleash that group of skill position players Aug. 30 when it opened at home against Erial (New Jersey) Timber Creek, which represented an opportunity to earn Division II computer points.
The Hawks will look to continue their run of success against Wheelersburg when they visit the Pirates on Friday, Sept. 6.
Wheelersburg was a Division V state semifinalist last season but endured its only regular-season loss to Hartley, 51-20 in Week 2.
The Hawks also beat the Pirates 42-20 in the Region 17 final on their way to a Division V state runner-up finish in 2013 and 45-38 in overtime in the Region 17 title game in 2014 before losing in a state semifinal.
Hartley has moved up two divisions since then and is in Region 11 while the Pirates now reside in Division V, Region 19.
Wheelersburg lost most of its key skill position players from last season but returns senior Makya Matthews, a first-team all-state honoree at wide receiver last fall who also could see time at running back. Matthews scored both of the Pirates' touchdowns in the game against Hartley last season.
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- Dover Invitational and McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 7 -- At Oxford Talawanda with Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
*Sept. 9 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 11 -- Home vs. New Albany
Sept. 7 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 10 -- DeSales at Champions
Sept. 10 -- Bexley at Turnberry
Sept. 5 -- At Columbus Academy
Sept. 9 -- At Wellington
Sept. 10 -- At Columbus Academy
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Watterson
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Watterson
*Sept. 10 -- At DeSales