Westerville South cross country coach Jimmy Gaul senses his teams are gearing up for what could be strong postseason runs.
South will have a key tune-up in the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic on Saturday, Sept. 28, at London Country Club.
"You're running around the holes and you get great footing off the edges of the fairway," Gaul said. "In the last 1,000 meters, they weave you up and down hills. It poses a big challenge, so you get to see what you're made of mentally."
The Wildcats then will prepare for the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Oct. 12 at Hilliard Davidson, followed by the Division I district meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby.
"When we put all these things together, we'll hopefully run our best races at the league and district meets like we always want to do," Gaul said.
Both teams turned in strong efforts in the Pickerington Central Invitational on Sept. 21.
The boys have been led by senior Donovan Slattery, who Gaul believes will contend for a regional berth.
Slattery bettered his personal-best time by 17 seconds at Central, finishing 14th of 78 runners in 17 minutes, 1.6 seconds.
"Donovan has taken ownership of his role as our lead guy," Gaul said. "Not only is he a two-year captain, but he's taken on that mantle of being our No. 1 guy. He's just delivering gritty performances every Saturday. He's delivered some really good, consistent races. ... I could see him as someone who has a legitimate chance of qualifying for regional as an individual if our team can't reach that goal."
The boys finished seventh (152) of nine teams at Central behind champion Gahanna (41). Liam Allbritton was 30th (18:03.5), followed by Andrew McCracken (31st, 18:05.3), Isaac Combs (34th, 18:10.6), Jaxen Swank (45th, 18:28.1), Chase Jackson (47th, 18:32.2) and Anthony Vilardo (51st, 18:52.3).
"I can't complain about these guys," Gaul said. "They get along great. They have fun together. They work really hard during the week. We talk about knowing what the goal of each day is. They're getting better. They're working on our goals for each week and they race really hard."
Emily Ellsworth led the girls by finishing ninth of 63 runners in 20:36.1. Taylor Hughes was 14th (21:03.8), followed by Emma Henderson (25th, 21:57.6), Karina Deere (26th, 22:00.4), Annalyssa Earl (36th, 22:40.4), Elise Bennett (38th, 22:47.3) and Jillian Pride (39th, 22:57.1).
The girls finished fourth (106) of seven teams behind champion Gahanna (46).
"The girls are having an exciting season given in the past six or seven years some of the struggles they've had as a varsity team to get a strong group together," Gaul said. "We have a really nice group in front. ... They're starting to believe. They're starting to feel confident. They're pushing themselves in training."
Girls soccer team earns first win
The girls soccer team earned its first win of the season, beating Licking Heights 2-1 on Sept. 21.
Ellise Riggs and Emma Seacrest scored the Wildcats' first goals of the season.
South was 1-8 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Olentangy Orange on Sept. 24.
Boys soccer team looks for turnaround
The boys soccer team was 2-6-3 overall and 0-1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Orange on Sept. 24.
South was looking to end an eight-game winless streak.
Vilardo, Nick Lovell and Eugene Ofosu all scored in a 3-all tie against Columbus Academy on Sept. 19.
Below are the coming schedules for the South cross country, boys golf, girls golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 28 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Sept. 26 -- Westerville Central and Westerville North at Medallion
Sept. 30 -- Worthington Kilbourne and North at Worthington Hills
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Sept. 26 -- Licking Heights at Royal American
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
Sept. 26 -- At Reynoldsburg
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Thomas Worth-ington
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Whetstone
Oct. 1 -- At Newark
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange. The Wildcats lost to the Pioneers 25-8, 25-13, 25-11 on Sept. 10.
*Oct. 1 -- At North. The Wildcats lost to the Warriors 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 on Sept. 12.