Having returned his top runners from a year ago, Dublin Scioto boys cross country coach Kevin Foley has high hopes this season.
However, the 25th-year coach believes it might take some time before the Irish are ready for the challenges of the OCC-Cardinal Division meet as well as the postseason.
"We're not ready yet and nor do we want to be," Foley said. "For the last two years, we've ended up as a top 10 team in the region, so that's an accomplishment. We're hoping to make that three in a row. We're going to have keep working toward that end."
Among the returnees is senior Sam Thomas, who competed in the Division I state meet last season, finishing 73rd (17 minutes, 3.6 seconds) of 186 runners despite running the latter stages of the race with a broken right fibula.
"He's making great progress," Foley said. "We're just bringing him along slowly and carefully."
Also back are seniors Antonio Loor and Dylan Walsh, juniors Ali Latif and Trevor Page and sophomores Spencer McClellan and Justin Ward. All six competed last year at regional, where the Irish finished ninth (224 points) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (95).
Foley expects freshmen twins Bryce Page and Reece Page to contend for top-seven spots.
"I think we're going to start off slow, but by the end of the season, I think we'll be a state contender," Trevor Page said.
Scioto opened Aug. 24 by competing in the 18-team Panther Division of the Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North.
Trevor Page finished 35th of 544 runners in 17:27.1 to lead the Irish, who finished ninth (224) behind champion North (59). McClellan was next (38th, 17:32.4), followed by Thomas (60th, 18:06.7), Reece Page (79th, 18:23.7), Walsh (128th, 19:16.5), Loor (188th, 19:58.1) and Ward (195th, 20:03).
"The goal always is to better than you did the year before," Foley said. "Our top seven are back and the two freshmen are in the mix contributing. We haven't lost anyone."
The girls team also returns several key runners, led by junior Audrey Bannister, who competed in her second state meet last fall.
Bannister finished 31st (19:15.2) of 172 runners at state after placing 37th (18:51.4) of 173 runners as a freshman.
Sophomore Mei Harter, who is new to the sport, has emerged as the Irish's No. 2 runner, according to 17th-year coach Matt Suttle.
Sophomore Avery Samms has been the No. 3 runner, followed by junior Allie Thornbloom. Both are returnees.
Freshman Megan Hartman has been the No. 5 runner in the early season.
Also back are senior Finley Paez and junior Sofia Morales.
The Irish opened Aug. 24 by finishing eighth (223) in the 15-team Hartford Twilight Invitational behind champion Granville (56).
Bannister was sixth (19:32.3) of 185 runners to lead the Irish. She was followed by Harter (39th, 21:32.2), Samms (54th, 22:06.1), Hartman (70th, 22:31.8), Thornbloom (77th, 22:45.2), Paez (87th, 23:03.1) and Morales (91st, 23:06.1).
"We had a great start," Suttle said. "It's a good start and the girls had better starts than they did last year at this point. I'm really happy with where we are right now. The girls had some good summers."
Field hockey team seeks improvement
The field hockey team is looking to improve on a 2-13-1 record from a season ago.
Scioto is 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division, but is coming off its most competitive game of the season, a 2-1 loss to Columbus School for Girls on Aug. 28.
Senior defender Michelle Zavala scored off assists from senior midfielder Adriana Pablo-Martinez and sophomore forward Holland Bell. All three are returnees.
Another returnee, junior goalkeeper Christina Redfox, had eight saves.
"I know this is going to be a rebuilding year," third-year coach Megan Kinnison said. "We have 11 returners and everybody else is brand new. I believe going forward that next year as kids get more experience, we'll definitely build upon that."
Other returnees are senior Deola Olobatuyi (forward), juniors Kayanaat Chaudhry (forward), Irshad Molla (defender) and Vivian Starcheus (midfielder) and sophomores Stephanie Speidel (defender), Latai Tonga (defender/midfielder/forward) and Kendal Williams (midfielder).
Also on the team are juniors Fizza Khalid (defender) and Mariam Nagaty (forward), sophomore Mafaz Fazzari (defender) and freshmen Sylvie Churchill (forward), Michelle Hernandez (goalie), Rafiah Minna (forward) and Diana Pablo-Martinez (forward).
"We have 27 kids this year, so we actually have a j.v. team," Kinnison said. "That's really exciting."
Golfers compete in league events
The boys golf team will compete in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Denison Golf Club.
The Irish finished eighth (367) in the third round Aug. 28 at Darby Creek behind first-place Olentangy Berlin (303). Jack Gawronski carded an 82 to lead Scioto, which is eighth (0-21) in the league behind first-place Jerome (20-1) entering the final round.
The girls team finished fifth (424) in the third round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 28 at Royal American behind first-place Jerome (330).
Nicole Santoso shot a 103 and Alex Kopelcheck carded a 104 for the Irish, who were fifth (7-12) in the league behind first-place Jerome (19-0) entering the fourth and final round Sept. 4 at New Albany Links.
Below are the coming schedules for the Scioto cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- Boys: McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial; Girls: Mason Invitational
Sept. 5 -- Westerville North at Darby Creek
Sept. 7 -- Grove City Invitational at Hickory Hills
Sept. 9 -- North at Royal American
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Cardinal at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 5 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Raymond
Sept. 9 -- Olentangy Berlin at Bent Tree
Sept. 5 -- At Olentangy
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
Sept. 7 -- At Olentangy
*Sept. 10 -- At Darby
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Jerome
Sept. 9 -- At Gahanna
Sept. 10 -- At Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 5 -- At Hilliard Bradley