The Gahanna Lincoln boys cross country team had a breakthrough last season when it reached the Division I state meet for the first time since 2004.

Another historical achievement was accomplished when the Lions captured their first regional championship Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.

Gahanna scored 100 points in the 16-team regional meet, 30 points ahead of runner-up Hilliard Davidson (130), and will compete at state Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway after finishing seventh there a season ago.

"We just came out and felt good (at regional)," senior Riley Jackson said. "We all knew we were conditioned for this and were confident we were going to do well. We all went out knowing we were the best team in Gahanna history and that we could go out here and win the region."

Jackson led the Lions with a 12th-place finish in 16 minutes, 9.2 seconds, with senior Ben Towler placing 14th (16:17.1) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state.

Also competing were senior Ryan Mehalic (21st, 16:34.7), freshman Alex Eggleston (31st, 16:48), junior Donovan Hight (45th, 16:57.2), junior Connor Hughes-Hemsoth (65th, 17:15.6) and junior Isaac Mair (99th, 17:47).

"If you compiled the times from (the district races Oct. 19), we had a slight edge on Davidson and a little bit more on Pickerington North," coach Ryan Beck said. "This is the first one in school history. We're pretty excited."

North finished fifth (165), as Olentangy Orange (154) and Thomas Worthington (162) placed third and fourth, respectively.

The girls team finished sixth (206) at the 17-team regional behind champion Davidson (36) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced.

Sophomore Alyssa Shope led the Lions with a 31st-place finish (19:52.7), followed by seniors Riley Dickson (36th, 20:09.3) and Natalie Clay (44th, 20:15.7), junior Elise Wunderlin (46th, 20:18.7), sophomore Olivia Perry (91st, 20:56.7), junior Megan Massmann (95th, 20:59.3) and senior Tara Shope (101st, 21:05).

The girls finished eighth at regional last season.

Girls soccer team falls in district final

After beating two higher-seeded teams in the Division I district tournament, the 16th-seeded girls soccer team lost to ninth-seeded Marysville 1-0 in a district final Oct. 26 at Dublin Jerome.

The Lions finished 9-5-6 overall and went 3-0-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place second behind Grove City (4-0-1).

"Definitely the competitiveness and that everybody on this team wants to win (were our biggest strengths)," senior forward Katie Stafford said.

Stafford, who had a hat trick as Gahanna beat seventh-seeded Jerome 4-3 in a second-round game Oct. 17, is an Akron commit who led an eight-member senior class.

Senior defensive midfielder Taylor Molli has committed to Xavier but missed most of the season with an injury.

Senior forward Emily Beach will play for Ohio Dominican. Peyton Marquez (defender), Kynsie Jonke (midfielder) and Julia Foresi (midfielder) also were key seniors.

Junior Alexei Whittaker, who was the team's leading scorer in 2018 but missed much of this season because of injury, should be among the top returnees.

Others eligible to return include juniors Hannah Cumbow (midfielder), Thalie Johnson (defender), Alyssa Redmond (goalkeeper) and Natalie Stewart (forward), sophomores Meredith Clay (defender), Olivia Herzog (forward), Taylor Marcum (forward), Ryanne Michel (defender), Maddy Willis (goalie) and Jocelyn Wyant (midfielder) and freshman Dalyn Schepman (midfielder).

"I'm very proud of the program," coach Nick Eley said.

Volleyball team ousted by Irish

The 10th-seeded girls volleyball team lost to seventh-seeded Dublin Scioto 20-25, 25-7, 25-17, 25-21 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22 at Central Crossing to finish 17-6 overall.

The Lions, who won the OCC-Ohio championship at 10-0, are losing three seniors in Kailey Mishler (setter), Anna Nie (middle hitter) and Lexi Tatum (outside hitter).

"(The seniors stepped) up at different times," coach Molly Martin said. "They've done a good job."

Juniors Kortney Grimm (outside hitter), Sophia Hill (right-side hitter) and Emily Schweitzer (middle hitter/outside hitter) and sophomore Kendall White (setter/right-side hitter) were among the team's top hitters.

Nie was named OCC-Ohio Player of the Year. Tatum also made first-team all-league, while White was second-team all-league, Grimm made special mention all-league and Mishler was honorable mention all-league.

Others eligible to return include juniors Megan Massmann (middle hitter) and Alex VanHorssen (defensive specialist), sophomore Maggie Spinney (defensive specialist) and freshman Audrey Worthington (middle hitter).

"It's going to be a really fun season next year," Schweitzer said. "We're all doing a good job stepping up for each other and playing for each other."

Boys soccer team closes season strong

Although it was seeded 24th for the Division I district tournament, the boys soccer team upset two higher-seeded opponents before losing to 11th-seeded Upper Arlington 2-0 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22.

Gahanna finished 7-11-1 overall.

"As a coach, you want to see your team improve throughout the season and represent your school and community the right way," coach Matt Kovach said. "I'm proud of the improvement we showed throughout the season."

The Lions are losing 13 seniors, including first-team all-league honorees Jarrett Lukacsko (midfielder) and Payton Smith (goalie), second-team all-league selection Josh Gates (midfielder/forward) and special mention all-league honoree Noah Erick (defender).

Sophomore midfielder Brenton Molli, who was honorable mention all-league, and junior center midfielder Cooper Solomon should lead the returnees next season.

Others eligible to return include juniors Harrason Ahn (forward), Ty Bentley (forward/defender), Jacob Cole (goalie), Phillip Fallon (forward), Mustapha Kinteh (forward) and Juan Miranda (goalie) and sophomore Niko Kokales (forward).

Senior Matt Haun led the Lions in scoring with seven goals and two assists.

"We're really excited for the group coming back in 2020," Kovach said. "They gained outstanding experience this year. When you combine our returning varsity players with the group of (junior varsity) players coming off of a 9-2-4 season, we believe we have reason to be optimistic in 2020."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek