Dublin Jerome girls tennis coach Ken Berlin doesn't expect his team to struggle to find its focus when it begins the postseason Thursday, Oct. 3, with a Division I sectional at Upper Arlington.

After winning their first 17 matches, the Celtics lost to the host Golden Bears 3-2 on Sept. 26 in a district semifinal of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament.

The Celtics, who were 17-1 before playing Columbus Academy on Oct. 2, have two seeded doubles teams and one seeded singles player for the sectional, but none of them are seeded first or second.

"Hopefully, that gives us a little bit of motivation," Berlin said.

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

Senior Reagan Resor and juniors Lalasa Nagireddy and Katherine Wang each made it to state last season in singles, but all three are playing doubles this postseason.

Nagireddy, who played first singles much of the season, and junior Arya Dudipala are the third seed, while Wang and Resor are seeded fourth.

In singles, senior Kavya Alagappan is the third seed. Also playing singles are freshman Ella Oleson and junior Sudi Pelluru.

"The sectional draws kind of went how we anticipated," Berlin said. "We have tough matches (in doubles), but when you get to the postseason, you have to win tough matches."

Jerome beat UA 3-2 on Sept. 12 before the Bears reversed the result in the OTCA match.

In the rematch, Dudipala won at second singles and Resor and Wang won at first doubles, but Nagireddy lost at first singles, Alagappan lost at third singles and Oleson and Pelluru lost at second doubles.

Young runners step up for boys squad

The boys cross country team doesn't compete this weekend as it prepares for the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Oct. 12 at Hilliard Davidson.

Senior Elliott Cook has been leading the way for the Celtics, who have seen a group of young runners emerge.

On Sept. 28 in the nine-team Bear Den Dash at Olentangy Berlin, Jerome finished third (72 points) behind Upper Arlington (55) and Lancaster (66) as Cook captured the title in 15 minutes, 50.5 seconds.

Senior Arjun Dhankani finished 13th (17:06.5), followed by sophomore Carson Smith (17th, 17:09.2), freshman Joshua Razor (20th, 17:17.7), sophomore Rishikesh Makineni (21st, 17:26.6), junior Andrew Bartsch (22nd, 17:28) and sophomore David Hartman (23rd, 17:31.4).

On Sept. 21 in the Celtic Clash at home, Jerome finished fourth (140) of 24 teams, behind champion Chillicothe Unioto (44). Cook was first (15:52.5), followed by Smith (25th, 17:17.8), Razor (28th, 17:21.5), Makineni (39th, 17:33.2), Dhankani (52nd, 17:45.7), junior Gunnar Grass (60th, 17:52.1) and Bartsch (61st, 17:53.1).

"It's been a testing season to this point considering we lost two of our top five in the summer," coach Dave Wadenstierna said. "One of those athletes, Arjun Dhankani, is just now making his comeback. The positive side of this is that lots of young runners have emerged, namely freshman Josh Razor and sophomore Carson Smith. There's a solid group of juniors right behind them. Furthermore, our top runner, senior Elliott Cook, has been very impressive as expected."

Girls runners forming tight pack

The girls cross country team also is off until the OCC-Cardinal meet, where it will look to improve on a third-place finish a season ago.

In the Bear Den Dash, the Celtics finished fourth (75) of six teams, behind champion Lancaster (46).

The biggest positive from that meet was that Jerome's top five runners were separated by just 37 seconds. Junior Lauren Metzger led the Celtics (14th, 20:58), followed by senior Madison Weigle (15th, 21:17.6), sophomore Audrey Cook (16th, 21:18), freshman Cecilia Martyna (17th, 21:24) and senior Emily Oiler (23rd, 21:35.9).

Freshman Kendall Metzger (33rd, 22:31.6) and sophomore Gwyn Lai (34th, 22:35.8) rounded out the team's top seven.

In the Celtic Clash, Jerome finished fourth (137) of 22 teams, behind champion Buckeye Valley (98), as Cook was 13th (20:02.5), followed by Metzger (23rd, 20:34.8), sophomore Ava DiMasi (27th, 20:40.7), Weigle (31st, 20:47.4), senior Manaka Yamauchi (43rd, 21:14.2) and Martyna (48th, 21:23.9).

"We've been seeing marked improvements as a whole group this season," coach Kaitlyn Willette said. "All across the board, we've had ladies accomplishing both qualitative and quantitative goals and each week we've had something to celebrate. It makes Monday race reviews a very fun time as a team.

"They're an interesting mix of joy for the sport and drive to improve. They push each other in practice, that's for sure, and I'm excited to see how they continue to excel as the season progresses."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

FIELD HOCKEY

*Oct. 9 -- At Olentangy Berlin

BOYS GOLF

Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Denison Golf Club. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.

Oct. 5 -- Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Muirfield Village Golf Club

GIRLS GOLF

Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Royal American. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.

Oct. 5 -- Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Muirfield Village Golf Club

BOYS SOCCER

*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Delaware

Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange

GIRLS SOCCER

*Oct. 3 -- At Delaware

Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Oct. 3 -- At Delaware. The Celtics beat the Pacers 25-9, 25-21, 26-24 on Sept. 5.

Oct. 8 -- At Westerville South

*League contest