With a second consecutive championship trophy in hand, the St. Charles water polo team left the state tournament at Mason feeling an enormous amount of satisfaction.
The Cardinals dominated the two-day tournament last season, but they needed to rally past Upper Arlington on Oct. 26 to win the state final 9-8.
It was the sixth state championship overall for St. Charles, which also won it all in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
"It was awesome (to win a second consecutive state title)," senior goalkeeper Seth Miller said. "This one felt a lot better. We had to work a lot harder as opposed to last year. This felt better because we had to work and come back from behind."
The Cardinals took over in the second half, outscoring the Golden Bears 7-3. Senior attacker Thomas Lennox had six goals, senior attacker Travis Miller scored two and Seth Miller had 13 saves as the Cardinals finished 42-5.
"(The Bears) played their hearts out and that made it better this year because they challenged us," Lennox said. "They have improved so much throughout the season."
The Cardinals had a first-round bye before defeating Milford 19-7 on Oct. 25 at Cincinnati Princeton. On Oct. 26, they beat Princeton 24-5 in a semifinal before defeating the Bears.
Last season at state, the Cardinals defeated Milford 34-5, Princeton 21-9 and Cincinnati Sycamore 17-6.
Other top players included senior Alex Nash and junior Donnie Richardson at attacker, senior Chris Edwards at center-guard and junior Will Elsrod at center.
Center-guard Sawyer Davidson, attacker Andrei Proca, attacker Ryan Seidt and center Jack Simone rounded out the senior class.
"You look at our (senior) class and it's been pretty successful," Lennox said. "We were j.v. (state) champs as freshmen and sophomores, and we won the varsity state title for the last two years.
"They are all some of my best friends and it's something that we'll have forever. We proved that we played well together."
Besides Elsrod and Richardson, other top players expected to return are junior attacker Austin Gryzbicki and junior goalie Jackson Baird.
"We have some pretty solid players coming up behind us," Seth Miller said. "Donnie and Will are going to be big pieces next year, and Austin Gryzbicki stepped up for us late in the season. Jackson Baird was the goalie under me and he should hold his own next year."
Soccer team wins another district title
The soccer team had yet to give up a postseason goal heading into its Division I regional semifinal Oct. 30 against fifth-ranked Worthington Kilbourne.
The third-seeded Cardinals improved to 14-3-2 by defeating 14th-seeded New Albany 3-0 on Oct. 26 in a district final at Westerville North. They also defeated 41st-seeded Logan 5-0 on Oct. 17 and 15th-seeded Groveport 1-0 on Oct. 22 in a district semifinal, both at home.
St. Charles repeated as a district champion and has won three titles in four seasons.
If the Cardinals beat the Wolves, they'll play in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a neutral site against fourth-ranked Olentangy Liberty or Westerville Central. The 10th-ranked Cardinals played Liberty to a scoreless tie Sept. 12.
The regional champion plays in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, at a neutral site against third-ranked Cincinnati Moeller, Cincinnati Elder, Cincinnati St. Xavier or Liberty Township Lakota East. St. Charles lost to Moeller 2-0 on Sept. 7.
Coach Chris Vonau said the key against New Albany was scoring quickly to gain momentum.
"Whenever we play New Albany, it's a big rivalry," he said. "It's become that type of a game and the guys met the challenge. It was a physical game. We were able to sneak one in early and the momentum built after we got the second goal."
Senior defender Nick Kotte scored six minutes into the game on a corner kick for his first goal of the season. He added a second goal on another corner kick.
"Nick's a guy who is always involved, always one of our dominant players defensively, but it was almost like he was biding his time," Vonau said.
Sophomore midfielder/forward Gabe O'Reilly also scored off a pass from senior forward Luke Hinsman.
"I saw Luke make a run and hit it over and it started bouncing," O'Reilly said. "My first instinct was just to hit it in the goal. That's always what I like to do."
Junior goalie Jake Koehler made five saves.
Against Groveport, senior forward Ben Saas scored off a pass from senior forward Finn O'Reilly and Koehler had five saves.
Karas qualifies for state meet
Junior Owen Karas of the cross country team placed third (15:53.2) in the Division I regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North, advancing to state Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
Karas cut 16.5 seconds off his time (16:09.7) from district Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby.
Pickerington North's Matt Duvall (15:33.8) and Dublin Jerome's Elliott Cooke (15:49.6) took the top two spots.