Improving by one win over the previous season was among the successes of the Dublin Jerome field hockey team last season.
Setting a foundation for future accomplishments under a new coach was perhaps an even bigger one.
Now in their second season under coach Cara Wolfgram Evans, the Celtics are aiming for a winning record overall and in the COFHL-West Division after finishing 7-10 overall and 3-5 in the league last season.
"We have a lot of returning players as we only lost three varsity seniors last year," Wolfgram Evans said. "This past winter was the first time in program history there were open gym hours in the offseason so players could get extra stick time. I know this will help our team build off of our current skillset."
A year after setting the program record for wins in a season, Jerome was 2-3 overall before facing Granville on Sept. 4 and is 1-2 in the league.
Seniors Audrey Evans (defender), Jane Goodstein (forward), Riley Morgan (forward) and Yuna Takahashi (forward) and juniors Olivia Brooks (defensive midfielder) and Katelyn Root (midfielder) are among the top returnees. Last season, Root was the team's third-leading scorer with five goals behind 2019 graduates Jaqueline McCully (12) and Brynna Pope (6). Evans led in defensive saves with six.
Junior Lauren Finley returns at goalkeeper and has been sharing time at that position with senior Ashtha Singh.
Rounding out the team are seniors Deena Ayshi (defender), Iman Metzger (forward) and Lauren Murray (midfielder), juniors Catie Berniger (midfielder), Janelle Emmett (defender), Maeve Gallagher (defender), Keely McClure (midfielder), Vanessa Ruck (midfielder) and Hailey Watson (forward) and sophomore Meryl LaRue (forward).
"This year will be a very good year for Jerome field hockey," Wolfgram Evans said. "My hope for this year is to have a winning season. The players on the field hockey team work very hard together to create a positive culture that continues to build off of the previous seasons."
Boys runners are building behind Cook
A year after falling one spot short of advancing to the Division I regional meet, the boys cross country team is emphasizing the importance of depth.
The Celtics know they have a strong frontrunner in senior Elliott Cook, a three-time state qualifier who finished 11th in 16 minutes, 20.5 seconds at last year's state meet. He also was champion at the district 1 meet (15:57.4) and placed second at regional (16:02) last season and began this fall by winning the OHSAA Early Season Invitational on Aug. 17 at National Trail Raceway in 15:57.6.
Jerome scored 402 points at the OHSAA Early Season Invitational -- held at the same site as the state meet -- to finish 12th of 32 teams in Section B behind champion Solon (73) and fifth among 11 central Ohio teams.
"Our focus is simply to get a little better every day," eighth-year coach Dave Wadenstierna said. "I'd love to see Elliott compete for the state title, but even more so, I'd love to see the group behind Elliott develop and place us into the state-meet conversation."
Freshman Joshua Razor and sophomore Carson Smith have emerged as the next runners after Cook. Senior Arjun Dhankani, who has been battling an injury, was a regional qualifier last season.
Senior Jack Rozich and juniors Andrew Bartsch, Gunnar Grass and Kyle Von Cannon are other top returnees.
Seniors Will Tarrant and Nik Wagner, junior Austin Wagner, sophomores Rishikesh Makineni and David Hartman and freshmen Samuel Boggess and Ryan Cline are others looking to contribute.
"The fall is going well so far," Wadenstierna said. "Some of our key returners are nursing injuries, so the goal right now is getting them back healthy as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the focus is developing some of our emerging young athletes who have shown great promise this summer."
New coach excited about girls runners
During her time competing for the girls track and field team, 2013 Jerome graduate Kaitlyn Willette set the program record in the 3,200 meters as a junior and placed fourth in the 800 in the state meet as a senior.
As a junior for the girls cross country team, she ran what was then a program-record 18:37.3 during a regular-season meet and placed 20th at the state meet.
Willette has taken over as coach for the Celtics this season, replacing Megan Brar, who stepped down after two seasons.
"Overall, I'm hopeful and positive and, honestly, just very excited for the season," Willette said. "I (was) part of the Jerome team in high school and am so thankful and humbled to be back and part of it again. I love this team and think they are an uncommon group of people with the potential to go to heights they might not even yet realize. I'm excited to be part of what I believe they can do this year."
Jerome returns nearly all of its key runners from last season when it placed fourth in the Division I, district 3 meet and 17th at regional.
On Aug. 24 in the Panther Division race of the Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North, the Celtics finished seventh (154) of 12 teams behind champion Thomas Worthington (83) as sophomores Ava DiMasi (15th, 20:16.6) and Audrey Cook (19th, 20:39.5) led the way.
Seniors Sydney Berberick, Madison Weigle and Manaka Yamauchi, juniors Irene Kim, Kelly McLoughlin and Lauren Metzger and sophomore Gwyn Lai also are key returnees.
Freshmen Cecilia Martyna and Kendall Metzger both were among the team's top seven at the Pickerington Classic.
"Things are going pretty well this fall," Willette said. "There is a good energy on the team. I feel like we have a good mix of passion for running, support of each other and intensity for cross country that could really push us."
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome cross country, field hockey, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 5 -- At Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Sept. 11 -- At Olentangy Orange
Sept. 7 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 8-9 -- Kiley Cup at Canterbury
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Cardinal at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 10 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 5 -- At Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Berlin
*Sept. 5 -- At Scioto
Sept. 10 -- At Olentangy
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Delaware
*Sept. 10 -- At Scioto