Dublin Scioto boys cross country runner Sam Thomas is heading back to the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway and hopes to improve on last season's performance.

The senior placed 13th of 125 runners at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North in 16 minutes, 16.8 seconds. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state.

Thomas will be joined at state by junior teammate Ali Latif and junior Audrey Bannister of the girls team.

Last season, Thomas finished 73rd (17:03.6) at state despite competing part of the race with a broken right fibula sustained near the two-mile mark.

"It was a goal of mine to return to state," Thomas said. "It's a great accomplishment to make it again."

Scioto coach Kevin Foley expects Thomas to improve on last year's state finish.

"We don't talk about last season," Foley said. "He's had some soreness, but he's very tough. He's definitely put it behind him."

Latif finished 19th (16:26.5) at regional to earn his first trip to state.

"Every year Ali has gotten better," Foley said. "Twenty get in and he was 19th. He was truly surprised after the race."

Scioto finished seventh (215 points) of 16 teams at regional, behind champion Gahanna (100).

Also competing for the Irish were Trevor Page (48th, 16:59.6), Spencer McClellan (80th, 17:27.9), Reece Page (94th, 17:40.9), Bryce Page (116th, 18:16.7) and Dylan Walsh (122nd, 18:52).

"We got two through (to state) and the team likely reached as high as we could go," Foley said. "We've been dealing with illnesses and injuries and, all things considered, I don't think we could have gotten another place higher. One of our team goals is to run your best when it matters the most, and we did that."

Bannister earned her third trip to state by placing eighth of 130 runners at regional in 18:55.1.

"It's very exciting," Bannister said. "The race was really tough, but I think it went how I was hoping for. I was trying to get around that spot and I got eighth, so I was pretty happy with my performance."

Last season at state, Bannister finished 31st of 176 runners in 19:15.2. As a freshman, she finished 37th of 173 runners in 18:51.4.

"Hopefully I'll be able to go out there and improve," Bannister said. "We're going for a top 30 (finish) this year, so I'm going to work really hard this week to do better at state."

Boys soccer team falls in district final

The boys soccer team saw its season come to an end with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to 23rd-seeded Westerville Central in a Division I district final Oct. 26 at Olentangy Berlin.

Kyle Stewart scored in the second overtime to lift Central, which won its first district title since 2010.

Senior goalkeeper Declan Farrell had three saves for the fifth-seeded Irish, who finished 16-2-1 overall.

Scioto defeated 13th-seeded Coffman 3-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home behind goals by seniors Aidan Keidel (forward) and Gavin Wigg (defender/forward) and junior Shea Adesso (defender/midfielder).

In addition to reaching a district final, the Irish won the OCC-Cardinal Division title, going 5-1-1 in league play to edge runner-up Worthington Kilbourne (4-0-3) for the championship. The Irish lost to the Wolves 4-1 on Sept. 17.

"I'm so proud of these guys," coach Erik Ekis said. "It was a fantastic year."

Scioto is losing 10 seniors, including Farrell, Keidel, Wigg and defender Zack McQuade, who shared league Player of the Year honors with Kilbourne's Chris Guerra.

Wigg and sophomore Jayden Lunsford (midfielder) also were first-team all-league, seniors Marshall Smilonich (forward) and Jayden Tharp (midfielder) and junior Braden Cunningham (forward) were second-team all-league, Farrell was special mention all-league and senior Collin McKenzie (defender) was honorable mention all-league.

Ekis and Berlin's Josh Diehl shared league Coach of the Year honors.

Expected to return are juniors Jesus Arellano (for-ward/midfielder), Andrew Berkebile (midfielder), Max Edling (goalie) and Jacob Johnson (defender), sophomores Vince Kawana (defender), Hiro Maki (forward) and Devan Smith (midfielder) and freshman Jeb Smoot (goalie).

Girls volleyball team enjoys strong season

The girls volleyball team had a strong season, capped by reaching a Division I district final, where it lost to third-seeded Watterson 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 on Oct. 26 at Central Crossing to finish 23-3 overall.

The seventh-seeded Irish defeated 10th-seeded Gahanna 20-25, 25-7, 25-17, 25-21 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at Central Crossing.

Scioto went 13-1 in the OCC-Cardinal and shared the league championship with Hilliard Bradley. The teams split their two matches, with the Jaguars winning 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 on Sept. 5 and the Irish winning 23-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-22 on Oct. 3.

Senior Lauren Erickson (outside hitter) and junior Karleigh Rothe (outside hitter) were named first-team all-league, sophomore Ayva Leon (libero) was second-team all-league and junior Ashleigh Rothe (set-ter/opposite hitter) was honorable mention all-league.

Scioto's Jackie Wilson shared league Coach of the Year honors with Bradley's RyAnne Ufferman.

Karleigh Rothe was first-team all-district and Erickson was second-team all-district.

Junior setter Abby Leonard also is among the expected returnees.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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