Once Olentangy girls tennis player Nour Khayat had secured her first Division I state tournament berth, she exchanged hugs and handshakes with coach Jeff Luxenburger and assistant Amos Allison, reported her score to tournament manager Kathy Kinnard and received congratulations from her teammates.
More than anything, Khayat was exhausted but relieved to have pulled out a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Orange's Karol Korotkin in a state-qualifying match Oct. 10 at Reynoldsburg.
"I had to work hard for this. I'm happy to be able to qualify," said Khayat, a sophomore. "I stayed aggressive instead of sticking with pushing it and not getting my body into shots. I haven't always done that this season. It will sink in later. I spent a lot of energy out there, but I am excited."
Khayat went 2-2 and finished fourth at district, which concluded Oct. 12, losing to Liberty's Dani Schoenly 7-5, 6-4 in the third-place match. Khayat lost to Liberty's Maddie Atway 6-2, 6-3 in a semifinal.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Khayat, who defeated Berlin's Ella Franz 7-5, 6-1 in the first round, ensured Olentangy representation at state for the second time in three years. Kathleen Jones, a 2018 graduate, split two matches at state in 2017.
Khayat, who was Olentangy's only district qualifier, went 0-1 at district as a freshman.
"Nour was so close last year and she deserves to make it to the next stage with how hard she works," Luxenburger said. "We're very proud of her for getting the team there and representing us so well."
Luxenburger is most impressed by Khayat's demeanor on the court.
"It's fun to watch how calm she can be when everybody else, fans and coaches included, are a little more anxious," Luxenburger said. "She keeps a level head and plays solid tennis.
"She is stone-faced out there, but when you talk to her, you can see how competitive she is and how she feels a lot of emotion during a match. She is just good at not letting anyone know it. Tennis is the most important thing to her and that passion does show, but on the court, she is good at concealing that. That's what you want in a tennis player because it's such a mental game."
Runners prepare for district meet
The boys and girls cross country teams will participate in Division I district meets Saturday, Oct. 19, at Hilliard Darby.
The boys are in district 1, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North. The girls are in district 2, where the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance.
Olentangy wrapped up the regular season Oct. 12 with the OCC-Buckeye Division meet at Hilliard Davidson.
Led by Mikey Worboy's third-place finish (16 minutes, 12.3 seconds), the boys were third (81 points) behind Orange (32) and Liberty (42) and ahead of Westerville Central (116), Westerville South (131) and Westerville North (152).
Also scoring were Chandler Moyer (12th, 16:46.5), Luke Galloway (22nd, 17:14.2), Taye Gonzalez (23rd, 17:18) and Preston Smith (25th, 17:22.6).
The girls finished sixth (156) behind Liberty (38), Orange (39), Central (62), North (118) and South (120).
Cara Wilson was 14th (20:18.8), followed by Aspen Carson (35th, 21:29.3), Hannah Moore (42nd, 21:46.2), Maggie Duffy (46th, 21:57.9) and Jessica Morris (47th, 22:01).
Field hockey team starts tourney
Maddie Richeson's goal with 31.8 seconds left in overtime Oct. 14 gave the field hockey team a 2-1 win over visiting and 12th-seeded Bexley in the first round of the district tournament.
Sage Parker also scored for ninth-seeded Olentangy, which was 10-5-2 overall before visiting fifth-seeded Liberty in the second round Oct. 16.
The Braves, who had won three consecutive games before playing Liberty, finished 4-3-2 in the COFHL-West with a 2-0 win over Dublin Scioto on Oct. 9.
The Olentangy-Liberty winner will play fourth-seeded New Albany or sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22. Olentangy lost to New Albany 1-0 on Sept. 4.
Girls volleyball team begins postseason
Libero Madyson Chitty of the girls volleyball team recorded her 2,000th career dig Oct. 14 during the 18th-seeded Braves' 25-12, 25-14, 25-18 win over visiting and 37th-seeded Central Crossing in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Chitty, a Rutgers commit, needed 23 digs entering the match to reach that milestone and recorded that many in the win.
Olentangy was 11-11 overall before playing 36th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Oct. 16. The winner will face third-seeded Watterson or 46th-seeded Independence in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Central Crossing.
Olentangy finished 6-4 in the OCC-Buckeye after a 26-24, 25-12, 25-9 loss at Liberty on Oct. 10.
Boys golfers fall short at district
Boys golfers Tyler Phillips and Bennett Zeitner both finished in the top half of the field at the Division I district tournament Oct. 8 at Apple Valley, but neither qualified for state.
Phillips, a sophomore, shot a 76 and tied Dublin Jerome's Logan Menning for 19th of 72 individuals. Zeitner, a senior, shot an 80 and tied seven other golfers for 32nd.
"Having two representatives up here makes it definitely worthwhile and they played well," coach Joel Glassburn said. "It was a struggle at times. They battled through."
Other players eligible to return from the top five include juniors Taylor Lansdale and Ben Wilch.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 15 -- Played 46th-seeded Newark in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 17th-seeded Grove City or 24th-seeded Gahanna in second round Oct. 17 at home of better seed. Winner plays 10th-seeded Berlin, 11th-seeded Upper Arlington or 50th-seeded Franklin Heights in district semifinal Oct. 22 at home of better seed. The Braves are seeded 19th.
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 28th-seeded DeSales or 29th-seeded Hartley in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley, 26th-seeded Delaware or 35th-seeded Mount Vernon in district semifinal Oct. 23 at home of better seed. The Braves are seeded fifth.