A prep career filled with highs and lows concluded with a spot on the podium at the Division I state boys cross country meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway for Dublin Coffman senior Alex Dediu.
As a sophomore, Dediu finished 114th (17 minutes, 2.9 seconds) of 183 runners at state.
Injuries and illness kept him from advancing out of the district meet last season, but he rebounded to have a strong season this year.
Dediu finished fifth (16:00.1) at the regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North and placed eighth (15:41.3) at state, recording the fifth-best time among central Ohio runners as Pickerington North's Matt Duvall won the title (15:13).
"I'm pretty stoked," Dediu said. "My sophomore year, I was the last qualifier from my region and I didn't do really well here. Junior year, I got the flu at district, so to come in here my senior year and get eighth in a loaded field, I was hoping for a top-10 finish, but it's cross country so you never know what you're going to get on race day. I just wanted to get out hard and put myself on the front line and race hard."
Dediu ran alongside Worthington Kilbourne senior Tanner Williams, who finished seventh (15:40.7). Both runners have committed to Ohio State.
"Alex has really taken a step forward in his confidence as a racer this fall," coach Joe DePalma said. "He puts a lot of pressure on himself, but this season he's been running more relaxed and having more fun."
Coffman followed a third-place finish (64 points) in the OCC-Central Division meet Oct. 12 behind Hilliard Davidson (26) and Upper Arlington (61) with a third-place finish (106) at the district 3 meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby.
Dediu won the league title (15:54.5) and led the Shamrocks at district with a fourth-place finish (15:30.1).
The only other seniors in Coffman's postseason lineup were Colin Gagne and Shashwat Rao.
The Shamrocks were 11th (244) at regional as sophomore Noah Clemens and freshman Liam Shaughnessy placed 60th (17:10.4) and 61st (17:13.6), respectively.
Other key runners included juniors Andy Clemens, Ryan Loynes and Dylan Segieth, sophomore Isaac Frank and freshmen Jackson Roe and Will McGraw.
"We're really excited about our future," DePalma said. "We had one of the younger and deeper teams in the area, so I'm hoping we can make it to the next level in the next couple of years. I'm also impressed with how hungry and motivated our guys coming back are. The offseason will definitely be taken seriously with our team goals for track and next cross country season in mind. ... Overall, our season was a great one."
Girls soccer team earns regional title
The girls soccer team advanced to the Division I state tournament for the eighth time in program history with a 3-2 double-overtime win over Olentangy Orange in a regional final Nov. 2 at Westerville Central.
The Shamrocks' previous state appearance was in 2014 when they were runners-up for the fourth time. They won state titles in 2001 and '03.
Coffman was 15-1-5 before playing West Chester Lakota West in a state semifinal Nov. 5 at Springfield. The winner plays Medina or Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in the state final Saturday, Nov. 9, at a time to be determined at Mapfre Stadium.
The Shamrocks, who beat Westerville North 3-0 on Oct. 29 in a regional semifinal at Westerville Central, got first-half goals against Orange from Emma Barthel and Lara Schober.
The Pioneers answered with two goals before halftime and the game remained tied until Simone Rivard-Roberts scored off a pass from Barthel with 10:13 remaining in the second overtime.
Kinsey Crabtree received her second yellow card with 10:59 left in the first overtime, forcing Coffman to play the remainder of the game down one player.
"We were unfortunate to go down a player, especially in overtime," coach Costa Kalorides said. "The kids logged in a lot of minutes and we switched things around a little bit in the second overtime, just formation-wise. We pushed some players into different spots and tried to push up an extra forward and it ended up proving to be successful for us."
Coffman lost to Orange in district semifinals each of the past two seasons.
Crabtree, Rivard-Roberts and Addie Vaccari scored against Westerville North.
"It feels great (to beat Orange)," Rivard-Roberts said. "This team knocked us out of the tournament two years in a row, so we wanted revenge and made a decision that we weren't going to lose and went all out for it."
Most of girls runners to return
The girls cross country team had only one senior in its postseason lineup in Emma Niswonger.
At the Division I regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North, junior Abigail Scherer finished 32nd (19:54) to miss advancing to state individually by 12 spots as Coffman was seventh (207), two spots shy of a state berth.
Niswonger placed 41st (20:14.3) for the Shamrocks' second-best finish.
"Team-wise, I was really happy we beat a bunch of teams (at regional)," coach Greg King said. "We were 17 points out of qualifying for the state meet, so we were actually fairly close."
Scherer placed sixth (19:13.3) in the OCC-Central meet as Coffman was runner-up (65) and then finished 11th (19:49.9) at the district 1 meet Oct. 19 at Darby.
Freshman Olivia Oiler was the Shamrocks' No. 2 runner at district. Other key runners were sophomore Kendall Starr and freshmen Morgan Halli, Alexis Marsico and Bailey Morris.
Sophomore Madeline Erwin, who missed part of the season with an injury after becoming the team's No. 2 runner last season, competed in the postseason.
Junior Natalie Conrad and freshman Ella Shepherd are others eligible to return.
"One senior ran (at regional), so we should be really good next year," King said. "Things look pretty good."