Canal Winchester girls cross country runner Alyssa Weller hopes she can cut another minute off her season-best time in the next nine days before the OCC-Capital Division meet.

Weller, a freshman whose best time this season is 21 minutes, 5.7 seconds, set Sept. 21 during the Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome, wants to break 20 minutes -- if not by the league meet Oct. 12 at Lancaster, then by the Division I district meet seven days later.

Weller is not afraid to set lofty goals, especially considering how much she and a handful of other freshmen already have surprised themselves by the impact they made on the Indians' season.

"We didn't expect this," Weller said. "It's been a change (from middle school to high school). You increase your mileage in practice and increase the workouts speed-wise, but we're still all excited and proud. We're always encouraging each other and hoping for the best for everyone."

Weller has finished third on the team in each of the Indians' six races this season behind junior Allena Klamorick and senior Bonnie Butler, in that order. Classmates Marissa Klamorick and Brooklyne Redmon have placed in the team's top seven at every meet, with Redmon being the team's fourth finisher five times and Marissa Klamorick finishing anywhere from fourth to seventh on the team.

"The team has to depend on the fabulous freshmen," coach Michelle Klamorick said. "We realize that when you do what is right and not what is easiest, good things happen. Over 90 percent of our runners have PR'd this season and we expect that. However, when your times are dropping by a minute or more, that's impressive. We've had 17 guys and girls that have dropped nearly a minute or more off their lifetime best."

Allena Klamorick's win (20:12.5) in the Panther Invitational on Sept. 28 at Pickerington North led the Indians to 78 points and third place out of 10 teams as the host Panthers won (46). Also scoring were Butler (second, 21:09.2), Weller (eighth, 22:13.1), Redmon (23rd, 23:11.7) and Merideth McFarland (49th, 25:04).

"I think the heat got to me and it was really hard to push myself up to the front. It was a mental thing I had to get over," Allena Klamorick said. "We have some tough competitors coming in with the freshmen. Bonnie and I are the lead girls. We push each other to go to our best potential, but those incoming freshmen are really fighting for their spots, too. They're pushing us to keep going."

Led by Drew Kotwis' sixth-place finish (18:03.3), the boys team finished sixth (114) of 10 teams in the Panther Invitational, behind champion Athens (66). Kotwis was followed by Michael McKeon (14th, 18:42.7), Ian Lewis (23rd, 18:58.4), Elike Heh (33rd, 19:32.1) and Will Keiser (38th, 19:39.1).

McKeon, who has been the Indians' second, third or fourth runner in almost every meet this season, credited the team's success to assistant coach Ron Martin.

Martin will be honored Saturday, Oct. 5, during the Legends Cross Country Meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds for his achievements as coach at Caldwell in the 1970s and 1980s. His teams won Class A state championships in 1985 and 1986 and the latter team went 137-0.

Martin later coached at Attica Seneca East and Tiffin Columbian as well as at Heidelberg and Tiffin universities.

"He's helped us drop a lot of time. Most people have dropped at least a minute, if not more, compared to last season," McKeon said. "He's tough on us. I think that's really the main thing. He's tougher than any coach I've ever had for any sport I've done. He never lets up, which is what I think is making us so much better."

Girls tennis team ready for sectional

Girls tennis coach Jason Snider's strategy during the Division I sectional tournament draw was straightforward and, he hopes, beneficial to his players as they open the postseason Thursday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 5, at Upper Arlington.

The Indians' postseason lineup will resemble their regular-season lineup. Gabbi Barringer, Erin Duckworth and Ellie Stedman will play singles, while Layla Fox and Lauren Snider will make up one doubles team and Aliana Runyon and Grace Terflinger will comprise the other.

"I was a first-time coach going into the draw and I just figured if a girl has played first singles all year, she should play first singles, and if they've played second doubles, I'll keep them at second doubles," Snider said. "Other coaches do it differently. It caught me off guard at first, but if a girl plays in one spot all year and that's where she's best, that's where I'll keep her. I don't want to switch that up."

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 10 and 12 at Reynoldsburg.

Canal Winchester has not had any district qualifiers in program history.

A handful of the area's top teams, including Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Orange, also are at the UA sectional.

"Three of the top four teams in the area are there, but other than that, everybody else is pretty comparable," Snider said. "Looking at the bracket, I think if the girls win their first match, they have a pretty good chance to win their second."

The Indians finished the regular season at 6-12 overall after a 4-1 loss to Grandview on Sept. 30 at McKinley Park.

Canal Winchester went 1-1 last week, losing to Reynoldsburg 4-1 at home on Sept. 24 before beating visiting Whitehall 5-0 the next day.

Boys soccer team facing big game

Despite struggling to a 3-7-1 record this season, the boys soccer team has a chance to earn an important OCC-Capital win Thursday, Oct. 3, when it plays host to New Albany.

Canal Winchester is 2-1 in the league. Groveport and New Albany, which is seeking its fourth consecutive OCC-Capital championship, both were 2-0 in the league before they played each other Oct. 1.

The Cruisers handed the Indians their only league loss, 1-0 on Sept. 17.

The Indians split two home games last week, defeating Franklin Heights 6-1 on Sept. 24 behind three goals from Ian Monesmith and two from Jack Jenkins before losing to Westerville North 4-0 two nights later.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

Oct. 2 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.

GIRLS GOLF

Oct. 2 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Blacklick Woods. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.

BOYS SOCCER

*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. New Albany

Oct. 5 -- At Chillicothe

Oct. 8 -- At Johnstown

GIRLS SOCCER

*Oct. 3 -- At New Albany

Oct. 5 -- At Granville

Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Westerville North

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Oct. 3 -- At New Albany. The Indians defeated the Eagles 25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18 on Sept. 12.

Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Williamsport Westfall

*League contest