During his fourth season as the Worthington Kilbourne boys track and field coach last spring, Josh Stegman had two of his top competitors advance to the Division I regional meet in the 3,200 meters.
He'll get to work even more extensively with one of those runners, senior Tanner Williams, as the Wolves' boys cross country coach this fall.
Stegman has taken over as head coach, with Katherine Scocozzo now serving as the girls coach after heading the boys team last fall.
Williams, who represented Kilbourne at the state cross country meet last year when he finished 96th (17 minutes, 16.2 seconds), leads a group that Stegman believes will be in the mix to defend its OCC-Cardinal Division championship.
"We have a great deal of strengths on the team, especially with our core group of leaders and varsity athletes," Stegman said. "Our focus this season is to use a pack mentality to be competitive each weekend. We have rolled out a philosophy that focuses on developing strength with work in the weight room as well as endurance and speed with the workouts the coaching staff has planned each day."
Last season, the Wolves advanced to regional for the first time since 2007, finishing 10th (235 points) of 16 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (95).
Seniors John Cuozzo and Gabe Knuth, junior Alexander Scites and sophomore Luke Miller were among Kilbourne's top seven at regional along with 2019 graduates Jack Begley and Max Shafran.
On Aug. 24 in the 18-team Panther Division race of the Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North, the Wolves finished fifth (165) behind the champion and host Panthers (59) as Williams placed third (15:47.1) and Cuozzo was 13th (16:39.4).
Junior Will Bartram and sophomore Jackson Pinschenat also are expected to be among the team's top runners.
Seniors Asa Compton, Will Franke and Michael Richardson, juniors Luke Compton, Kieran Maloney and Cole Niemantsverdriet and sophomore Chris Coppel are others who could crack the top seven at some point.
"(We have) placed an emphasis on working together as a whole team, boys and girls, with the goal of building a tight-knit team that is capable of really emphasizing the pack mentality," Stegman said.
Girls runners also out to strong start
Scocozzo is now serving as the girls cross country coach after Melanie Williams headed the program the past 27 seasons.
On Aug. 24 in the 12-team Panther Division race of the Pickerington Classic, the Wolves were fourth (117) behind champion Thomas (83) as senior Sasha Bomser finished fourth (19:30.4) and her sister, freshman Toby Bomser, was fifth (19:35).
Scocozzo also was pleased with her team's performance Aug. 17 in the OHSAA Early Season Invitational at National Trail Raceway, where the Wolves finished 10th (326) of 31 teams behind champion Liberty Township Lakota East (96).
"Our season got off to a great start," Scocozzo said. "I look forward to their continued success this season."
Sasha Bomser was a Division I regional qualifier last season, finishing 34th (20:20).
Senior Madeline Allen, junior Sylvia Long and sophomores Gwendolyn Cardimen and Riley Tate are the other top returnees. Tate finished 21st (20:43.4) and Long was 32nd (21:18.5) at the Pickerington Classic.
Freshmen Evelyn Ambler and Evelyn White also have cracked the Wolves' top seven.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Ella Brown, Devan Frye and Emma Tasse and freshman Rachael McCague.
Field hockey team has new look
The field hockey team has a new group of leaders this season after losing 11 players to graduation who helped the Wolves reach a district final for the first time in program history last fall.
Senior defender Meagan Rosenfeld and junior forward Abby Periatt are the top returnees for Kilbourne, which finished 14-3-2 overall and was runner-up in the COFHL-East Division at 7-1 behind Columbus Academy (8-0) last season.
"We are coming off a great season," fifth-year coach Alexandra Street said. "It was a big loss with having 11 seniors last year, but we've moved on and are ready to grow."
Kilbourne opened Aug. 28 with a 2-1 loss to New Albany and was 0-1 overall and in the league before facing Columbus School for Girls on Sept. 4.
Joining Periatt at forward are sophomores Grace Fronczak and Brynlee Pinschenat.
Juniors Blair Andrews and Olivia Barrie are at defender along with Rosenfeld, and junior Eva Leftridge and senior Nevaeh Spencer are the goalkeepers.
According to Street, most of the team's other players could see time at multiple positions.
Rounding out the senior class are Zoe Wood and Alice Yang.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Erika McCague, Nicole Miller, Claire Ogden, Maggie Rosenfeld and Sophie Seculov, sophomores Olivia James, Kaiti Reardon, Lauren Scott, Anais Sturges and Kendra Wharton and freshman Brynley Rung.
"This team is very different from last year's where we will be a younger squad but with a lot of depth," Street said. "We have a bigger squad than last year, so we'll be able to do a lot more interchanging and hopefully have fresh legs coming on and off the field quite a bit."
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- Tiffin Carnival
Sept. 5 -- At Hudson
*Sept. 7 -- At Olentangy Orange
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Hartley
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 7 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 9 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Zanesville Country Club
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Cardinal at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 5 -- Dublin Scioto at Raymond Memorial
Sept. 9 -- Gahanna with Thomas at Worthington Hills
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. DeSales
Sept. 7 -- At Hudson
*Sept. 10 -- At Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Bradley
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Thomas
Sept. 10 -- At Granville
Sept. 11 -- At Grandview
*Sept. 5 -- At Olentangy Berlin