Colbi Borland of the Big Walnut girls cross country team was well aware of the uphill climb she would face in trying to become a four-time league champion.
The senior's experience on the course at Lancaster supported her strategy.
"I got off to a fast start, because on that course if you don't go out fast, you hit the hills and slow down a lot," Borland said. "You try to use that first mile, because it's the only part of the course that's semi-flat."
Her early speed paid off in the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 12, as she finished in 19 minutes, 6.1 seconds to win her fourth league championship. Canal Winchester's Allena Klamorick was runner-up in 19:41.4, 35.3 seconds behind Borland.
Big Walnut totaled 38 points in the meet to finish second behind New Albany (36) and ahead of Canal Winchester (63), Newark (99) and Groveport (145).
"Losing by two points to New Albany was heartbreaking, but there is nothing to be ashamed of," coach Kevin Lewis said on the school's athletics website. "The girls worked their butts off and competed hard. If you would have told us we had four girls in the top 10, and all five scorers in the top 13, I would have said we ran away with the meet. It just wasn't meant to be."
Julia Wiergowska placed seventh (20:58.5) for the Golden Eagles, followed by Madi Yano (eighth, 20:59), Alina Pecci (ninth, 21:04.8) and Grace Grunewald (13th, 21:37.6).
The boys team finished fifth (130) in the league meet behind New Albany (23), Canal Winchester (60), Newark (67) and Groveport (100).
"While it wasn't the results we wanted, the team has had to try to overcome major injuries to two of our top three runners over the past two weeks, and our No. 1 runner, Jacob Krous, pulled a muscle in his stomach around the two-mile mark and practically limped to the finish," Lewis said in his web post.
Krous finished 22nd (18:30.1) to lead Big Walnut, followed by Grady Hemingway (33rd, 18:54.9), Ryan Cummins (36th, 19:00.1), Austin McGrath (40th, 19:09.5) and Gabe Ghering (45th, 19:34.6).
The boys and girls teams both competed in the Division I, district 3 meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby, from which the top six teams and top 24 runners advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 26, at Pickerington North.
At regional, the top five teams and top 20 runners advance to the state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
Girls soccer team shares league title
The girls soccer team entered the Division I district tournament with plenty of confidence after clinching a share of the OCC-Capital title with a 10-0 victory over Groveport in its regular-season finale Oct. 10.
Big Walnut and Canal Winchester both finished 4-0-1 in the league. The Golden Eagles and Indians both defeated New Albany, which was seeking its third OCC-Capital title in four years but went 3-2 in the league to place third.
"It's a good step toward the tournament this year," senior midfielder Avery Schone said of the league title. "I think all of us have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because we want to prove ourselves in (Division) I. We're ready to take on whomever wants to come at us."
The Golden Eagles reached a Division II state semifinal each of the past two seasons, but moved up to Division I this season and played 43rd-seeded Mifflin in a second-round game Oct. 19 after having a first-round bye.
Big Walnut, which was 10-3-3 overall before playing the Punchers, is seeded 13th of 45 teams.
The second-round winner plays third-seeded Olentangy Orange or 30th-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the better seed. That winner will face sixth-seeded Watterson, 18th-seeded Thomas Worthington, 19th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 32nd-seeded Logan in a district final is Saturday, Oct. 26, at a site to be announced.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Oct. 29.
Schone, Ella Froehlich and Joleigh Lawrence each scored two goals against Groveport.
The 27th-seeded boys team improved to 6-11 overall with a 2-1 overtime win over 34th-seeded Mifflin in the first round of the Division I tournament Oct. 12.
Jack Wood scored both goals for the Golden Eagles, who played at seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome in a second-round game Oct. 17. The winner plays ninth-seeded DeSales or 30th-seeded Licking Heights in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the home of the better seed.
That winner likely will face top-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at a site to be announced.
The Golden Eagles lost to Groveport 3-1 in their regular-season finale Oct. 10 to finish 2-3 in the OCC-Capital.
Football team getting ready for Cruisers
The football team's task when it visits Groveport on Friday, Oct. 25, in an OCC-Capital contest will be stopping a stable of running backs who have power and speed.
The Cruisers were averaging 267.8 yards rushing through seven games and were 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the league before playing Newark on Oct. 18.
Through seven games, Emmanuel Anthony led Groveport with eight rushing touchdowns, followed by Jashuan McGraw (seven), Jalil Underdown (five) and Te-Ron Coleman (two).
"We were sitting there in July and wondered what we'd do with all four of them," Cruisers coach Bryan Schoonover said. "You think one or two of them can do the job you need done, but three of them can play fullback and rotate different spots."
Big Walnut, which was 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing New Albany on Oct. 18, had a balanced offensive attack in a 49-19 victory over visiting Franklin Heights on Oct. 11.
Tyler Crotinger had 78 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries to lead the Golden Eagles, who totaled 199 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Jagger Barnett completed 10 of 14 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Craig Norman, who had three catches for 84 yards.
Big Walnut led the Falcons 28-0 at halftime.
Girls volleyball team wins tourney opener
Caroline Speelman had 19 kills and Kassie Bowmar added 13 in the girls volleyball team's 22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-9 win over 38th-seeded Westerville South in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 15.
Big Walnut, seeded 11th of 48 teams, played 12th-seeded Dublin Coffman in a second-round match Oct. 17.
The winner plays ninth-seeded Pickerington North or 14th-seeded Grove City in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Central Crossing. That winner will face top-seeded Olentangy Orange, 24th-seeded Pickerington Central or 39th-seeded Briggs in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Central Crossing.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Oct. 31.
The Golden Eagles were 17-6 overall before playing Coffman and finished 10-0 in the OCC-Capital to capture their 16th league title in 20 seasons.