For Colbi Borland of the Big Walnut girls cross country team, the workouts have been more intense and the preparation has been more thorough.
The senior and three-time OCC-Capital Division champion knows this is it -- it's time to chase another league title and a berth in the Division I state meet for the third consecutive season.
"With this being my last year, I just want to make sure I get the most out of myself and push myself in every race," Borland said. "I just hope I leave a good legacy behind so ... the culture continues to build after I leave."
Both the girls and boys teams will compete in the OCC-Capital meet Saturday, Oct. 12, at Lancaster.
The girls team has been runner-up to New Albany the past three seasons, including finishing with 46 points last year to 26 for the Eagles, while the boys team was fifth (124) last season behind champion New Albany (44).
"Colbi is running really strong, and if we keep her healthy, she should win her fourth OCC championship," said coach Kevin Lewis, whose teams competed in the Backwoods Festival on Oct. 2 at Thornville Sheridan.
Borland had a strong finish in the Celtic Clash on Sept. 21 at Dublin Jerome, where she finished second (18 minutes, 49.6 seconds) to Buckeye Valley's Chloe Dawson (18:38.8).
The Golden Eagles finished 10th (274) in the 22-team event behind champion Buckeye Valley (98) and ahead of OCC-Capital rival Canal Winchester (11th, 283).
Alina Pecci (21st, 20:31.6), Grace Grunewald (52nd, 21:29.8), Gianna Rose (115th, 23:09) and Maci Ames (116th, 23:11) finished behind Borland, whose times have been consistently lower this season.
A year ago, she placed 48th (19:39.9) of 176 runners at state. She won the OCC-Capital by crossing the finish line in exactly 20 minutes.
"I'm hoping to run controlled at OCCs and just stay mentally tough, because it's a really hard course," Borland said. "I want to defend my title, and four would be really cool."
The boys team enters the league meet dealing with multiple injuries.
Christopher Lee, the team's No. 2 runner, is out for the season with a stress fracture, and No. 3 runner Jordan Monebrake rolled his ankle but may compete in the league meet, Lewis said.
Senior Jordan Krous has been the leader all season.
"He was our top runner last year, and he's running almost a minute faster this season," Lewis said. "I would say he's got an outside chance at winning a league title. He's run a 16:40 and if he can get that down in the 16:20s, he should have a shot."
Krous led the Golden Eagles in the Celtic Clash, finishing 48th (17:42.2), ahead of Lee (55th, 17:49.1), Monebrake (86th, 18:10.9), Ryan Cummins (114th, 18:46) and Grady Hemingway (128th, 18:56.7).
Big Walnut placed 14th (396) of 24 teams behind champion Chillicothe Unioto (44).
Football team preps for Franklin Heights
The football team will be looking for its third consecutive victory over Franklin Heights when it plays host to the Falcons on Friday, Oct. 11.
Franklin Heights was 3-2 before opening OCC-Capital Division play against Groveport on Oct. 4, while Big Walnut was 2-3 before playing Newark in its league opener Oct. 4.
The Golden Eagles suffered their second consecutive defeat in a 38-10 setback at Marysville on Sept. 27.
The Monarchs led 24-0 before Landen Rutkowski made a 31-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Tyler Crotinger scored Big Walnut's only touchdown, a 7-yard run with 4:14 left in the game.
Westerville North got its first win of the season by defeating Franklin Heights 28-20 on Sept. 27. Quarterback Jeffrey Beverly completed 18 of 28 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Falcons, and wide receiver Ray McDonald caught six passes for 106 yards and a score.
Before playing Groveport, Franklin Heights' victories had come against teams that were a combined 3-12.
Golf teams end season at sectional
Boys golf coach Charlie Brodhead knew his team's scorecard in a Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Darby Creek would need to have more 70s than 80s, but only senior Kyle Williams managed to do so, carding a 78.
Big Walnut closed the season with an eighth-place finish (330) in the 15-team sectional as champion Dublin Coffman (299), Olentangy Liberty (303), Olentangy Orange (303) and Hilliard Darby (311) advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Apple Valley.
Senior Blake Shade (82), senior Kolin McKee (83), junior Austen Bennett (87) and senior Kenny Schneider (87) also competed for the Golden Eagles. Williams' score was three strokes behind the fourth and final individual district qualifier.
The girls team finished eighth (428) in an 11-team Division I sectional Oct. 2 at Blacklick Woods as champion New Albany (286), Coffman (324) and Westerville Central (343) qualified for district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
Sophomore Emma Doty shot a 98 to lead Big Walnut, followed by senior Emily Kuederle (105), senior Jenna Allen (110), sophomore Samantha Sellers (115) and junior Audrey Hofer (121).
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 8 -- At Westerville North
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Groveport
Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Oct. 10 -- At Groveport
Oct. 3, 5 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Pickerington Central. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district Oct. 10 and 12 at Reynoldsburg.
Oct. 9 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Oct. 10 -- At Groveport. The Golden Eagles defeated the Cruisers 25-8, 25-11, 25-23 on Sept. 17.