The Hilliard Darby boys cross country team is seeking a third consecutive trip to the Division I regional meet.
The Panthers finished 13th at regional last season after placing 15th in 2017.
"We've been to the regional meet the last couple of years, but we haven't quite gotten back to state," third-year coach Matthew Fox said. "It's been a couple of years since we've been to state. We're always working to try to get back over that in central Ohio."
Darby is led by junior Sean Carney, who opened the season by winning the New Albany Invitational on Aug. 19 in 16 minutes, 49.8 seconds.
Senior Isaac Becker was eighth (17:43.5), followed by senior Balaji Kurapati (10th, 18:02.3), sophomore Jake Long (11th, 18:11.6), junior Caleb Nelles (14th, 18:19.8), senior Tyler Hessenauer (23rd, 18:46.2) and sophomores Ryan Bugg (45th, 20:00.8) and Isaiah McCottry (51st, 20:22.8).
Darby finished second (44 points) in the 10-team meet behind New Albany (35).
"(Carney) was one of the top-rated sophomores in the state last (season)," Fox said.
Carney also led the Panthers at the Hot Summer Bash on Aug. 31 at Davidson, finishing second of 94 runners in 15.44.3. Darby finished seventh (189) of 11 teams behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (58).
Senior Jackson DeWolfe and junior Avery Lyle also are looking to contribute.
"I was worried that we weren't going to have depth coming into this year," Fox said. "We lost a series of seniors, but a lot of these guys put in great summers and we have more depth than we expected, especially with the three seniors leading the way."
Carney led Darby at regional last season, finishing 40th of 132 runners in 17:09.9. Becker, Kurapati and Long also competed at regional.
"We're looking really good," Kurapati said. "... The team is really coming together and we're going to have a good year."
Back to lead the girls team is senior Daniella Santos, a two-time state qualifier.
Last season, Santos finished 18th (18:56.8) of 176 runners at state to earn all-state honors. As a sophomore, she finished 28th (18:36.4).
"Daniella obviously is pretty good, so having an all-state runner on our team is something I always look forward to," third-year coach Jon Agriesti said. "She's won a lot of races, so that helps the team score. She expects to be all-state."
Santos opened the season by finishing first at New Albany in 18:39.8.
Sophomore Alivia Cannon, who competed at regional last season, finished 18th (21:50.5), followed by juniors Krystal Singh (25th, 22:22.5) and Madison Brokaw (32nd, 23:06.9), freshman Kara Martin (34th, 23:17.1), sophomores Jessica Govine (39th, 23:29.8) and Sydney Biedenharn (45th, 24:07) and senior Jane Vulic (46th, 24:08.1).
The Panthers finished third (90) of seven teams in the meet behind champion Bexley (21).
Santos then placed third (18:16.5) of 73 runners at the Hot Summer Bash, where the Panthers finished fifth (132) of nine teams behind champion Davidson (35).
"Alivia and Krystal are pretty good runners as well," Agriesti said. "They're going to score well. We're rebuilding. After the top three girls, we're trying to find two more, so there are several girls that are fitting in that category. We're encouraging different girls to get in those positions and do more. We're holding them accountable to challenge each other and work for those spots."
Golfers winding down league tourneys
The golf teams competed in the third round of their respective four-round OCC-Cardinal Division tournaments last week.
The boys finished fifth (331) on Aug. 28 at Darby Creek behind first-place Olentangy Berlin (303). Adam Tivin led Darby with a 78, followed by Jared Wells (82), Zach Brandewie (84) and Marcus Hunter (87).
The Panthers are fifth (9-12) in the league standings behind first-place Dublin Jerome (20-1) heading into the final round Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Denison Golf Club.
The girls finished third (399) in the third round Aug. 28 at Royal American behind first-place Jerome (330). Maria Hayes led the Panthers with a 91, followed by Zaria Hampton (97) and Aimee Hayes (99).
Darby was third (14-5) in the league behind first-place Jerome (15-0) entering the final round Sept. 4 at New Albany Links.
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Cardinal at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 5 -- Westerville North at Royal American
Sept. 9 -- North at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 10 -- Bradley at Mentel Memorial
*Sept. 10 -- At Dublin Scioto
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Scioto
Sept. 12 -- At Pickerington North
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Bradley
Sept. 10 -- At Davidson
*Sept. 5 -- At Thomas Worthington