Grove City senior Brayden Smith didn't become one of the boys cross country team's top performers overnight.
He credits his decision to refocus on his training during the offseason.
"This is by far my best season," Smith said. "I put in a lot of work over the summer and my teammates have pushed me to do better. It's running over the summer and I also changed my diet a little bit, which helped a lot. I want to do better for my senior season and go all out."
Smith considers the Canal Winchester Invitational on Aug. 28 as his breakout performance, as he finished 19th in 17 minutes, 36.6 seconds.
"I didn't think I had it in me," he said.
He followed that up by turning in a career-best 17:31.2 while finishing 52nd in the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 7 at Watkins Memorial.
Smith was 16th (18:05.6) of 148 runners in the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic on Sept. 28 at London Country Club, helping Grove City finish 11th (243) of 21 teams behind champion Olentangy (55).
Zach Elliott was 39th (19:01.9), followed by Bryan Ransburgh (48th, 19:12), Devin Dawson (73rd, 19:48.1), Dylan Boso (75th, 19:54.7), Tyler Fulk (83rd, 20:23.1) and Trey Harkins (98th, 21:13.8).
Smith has a goal of making the program's top-10 leaderboard. Paul Chapman, a 1993 graduate, is 10th (16:51).
"I'm not on the list yet," Smith said. "I hope to be by the end of the season. It's been a goal forever."
Coach Joe Dollins believes Smith has the potential to reach his goals.
"He's trying to get on the top 10 all-time list for school records, he wants to finish No. 1 on our team (for the season), run well at the district championship and then hopefully qualify for the regional," Dollins said.
Smith and his teammates will prepare for the postseason by competing in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 12 at Lancaster.
"The league meet is kind of scary, but it's good competition, though," Smith said.
The Greyhounds then will run in the Division I district meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby.
Last season, Smith finished 121st (19:21) at district. He has aspirations of contending for a spot at regional, which will be held Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
"I would love to compete at regional," he said.
Smith also competes for the boys tennis team. He is expected to play first singles this spring after playing second singles behind 2019 graduate Tyler Sander.
"The mental part of tennis has helped me in my 5Ks," Smith said. "Running is half skill and half mental, and the mental toughness from tennis definitely carries over to cross country."
Lindsay Donaldson and Laney Hoyt continue to lead the girls team.
Donaldson was 34th (22:59.2) and Hoyt was 59th (24:07.4) of 104 runners at London, where Grove City finished 11th (313) of 14 teams behind champion Gahanna (34).
Laura Cruz was 74th (25:12.5), Allison Walker was 79th (25:39), Gwen Wieging was 84th (26:20.4) and Lauren Glass was 92nd (27:47.5).
Donaldson is ninth on the all-time girls list at 20:52.
"The teams are running well," Dollins said. "We're reaching our peak as the second half of the season is winding down and we're approaching the OCC championships. I appreciate the hard work, the effort from both the boys and the girls teams."
Football team to open league play
The football team will kick off its OCC-Ohio schedule when it visits Lancaster on Friday, Oct. 4.
Grove City is looking to end a 17-game losing streak in league play. Its last league win was a 10-7 victory over Gahanna on Oct. 16, 2015.
The Dawgs will attempt to end a two-game losing streak after falling to 1-4 with a 38-7 loss at Canal Winchester on Sept. 27.
Zach Nelson rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and Jared Knight completed six of 14 passes for 55 yards. Grove City was outgained 486-194.
Lancaster dropped to 1-3 with a 31-21 loss to visiting Upper Arlington on Sept. 27. Max Hamilton rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, Brock Thomas ran for 64 yards on eight carries and Titan Johnson completed six of 10 passes for 80 yards.
Boys soccer team to close league play
The boys soccer team will close OCC-Ohio play with games against Pickerington Central on Thursday, Oct. 3, and Pickerington North on Oct. 10.
Grove City was 8-4-1 overall before playing Bexley on Oct. 1. It is 1-2 in the league.
The Greyhounds defeated Darby 3-1 on Sept. 26 as Nick Isaac scored two goals and AB Abdullahi added one. Goalkeeper Casey Thompson had four saves.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys golf, girls golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Darby Creek. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
*Oct. 3 -- At Pickerington Central
Oct. 3, 5 -- Division I sectional at Hilliard Bradley. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 10 and 12 at Reynoldsburg.
*Oct. 3 -- At Central. The Greyhounds defeated the Tigers 25-18, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21 on Sept. 12.
Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington