With his runners coming off strong efforts in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet, Westerville South cross country coach Jimmy Gaul is looking for the Wildcats to match or exceed those performances in Division I district races Saturday, Oct. 19, at Hilliard Darby.
"These were good meets and it's what we need to get us ready for the do-or-die, advance-or-go-home type of situation the district meet presents," Gaul said.
The boys will compete in the district 2 meet and the girls will run in the district 1 meet. The top five teams and top 20 individuals from both races advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Donovan Slattery led the boys in the league meet Oct. 12 at Hilliard Davidson, finishing seventh of 59 runners in a career-best 16 minutes, 38.4 seconds to earn first-team all-league honors. His previous best time was 17:01.
"This was the dream day that we had hoped for," Gaul said. "Donovan is one of those program guys that I get to talk about for years to come. He keeps working, he keeps grinding, he keeps doing everything that we ask. He keeps getting better and better. ... He has a great chance to move on (to regional)."
Andrew McCracken was 34th (17:51.2), followed by Liam Allbritton (35th, 17:51.2), Isaac Combs (38th, 17:55.5), Teague Svendsen (39th, 17:55.9), Chase Jackson (40th, 17:57.3), Anthony Vilardo (41st, 17:58.1), Gabe Combs (47th, 18:24.2) Jaxen Swank (49th, 18:28.9) and Isaac Weaver (54th, 18:47.9).
Eight of the 10 boys turned in personal-best efforts, and South finished fifth (131) behind Olentangy Orange (32), Olentangy Liberty (42), Olentangy (81) and Westerville Central (116) and ahead of Westerville North (152).
Emily Ellsworth led the girls, finishing 18th of 57 runners in 20:35.4 to earn honorable mention all-league honors along with Taylor Hughes, who was 19th (20:35.7).
Emma Henderson finished 30th (21:10.4), followed by Karina Deere (32nd, 21:13.6), Annalyssa Earl (36th, 21:29.4), Elise Bennett (40th, 21:41.1) and Abigail Cumming-Vukovic (48th, 22:04.6).
The Wildcats placed fifth (120) behind Liberty (38), Orange (39), Central (62) and North (118) and ahead of Olentangy (156).
"It was a great day for the girls given where we've been the last handful of years," Gaul said. "North has a really good team and a goal coming into the meet was to beat North. We were two points off, but out of the seven girls that ran (in the league meet), we had six personal bests.
"Our goal is to run our best when it matters the most and (Oct. 12) was by the far the best effort one through seven of the girls' season."
Boys soccer team opens postseason
The 31st-seeded boys soccer team was 2-11-3 before playing 30th-seeded Licking Heights in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 15.
The winner plays ninth-seeded DeSales or 49th-seeded Columbus South in the second round Thursday, Oct. 17, at the home of the better seed, with that winner playing seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome or 27th-seeded Big Walnut in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the home of the better seed.
The Wildcats closed the regular season with a 2-1 loss to visiting Westerville Central on Oct. 7. Jackson Miller scored off a direct kick and goalkeeper Dylan Gary had eight saves.
Girls soccer team begins tournament
The 31st-seeded girls soccer team was 2-14 before playing 27th-seeded Newark in the first round of the district tournament Oct. 16.
The winner plays at 25th-seeded Central in the second round Saturday, Oct. 19. The Wildcats lost to the Warhawks 3-0 on Oct. 10.
The second-round winner likely plays at top-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Below is the coming schedule for the South girls volleyball team:
Oct. 15 -- Played 11th-seeded Big Walnut in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 12th-seeded Dublin Coffman in second round Oct. 17. Winner plays ninth-seeded Pickerington North, 14th-seeded Grove City of 40th-seeded Logan in district semifinal Oct. 23 at Central Crossing. The Wildcats are seeded 38th.