Delaware Hayes Roundup: Runners aim for improved OCC results

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
Sophomore Noah Hatton is among the top returnees for the Delaware Hayes boys cross country team and 16th-year coach Jim Bibler. After OCC realignment, the Pacers are now in the OCC-Capital Division.

The Delaware Hayes cross country program returns several key contributors to its boys and girls lineups as it seeks to climb the league standings.

The boys finished eighth and the girls placed seventh last season in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet. After OCC realignment, the Pacers are now in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.

Scioto and Kilbourne also moved from the OCC-Cardinal.

"We've had a rough few years in the OCC and with the realignment and everything," 16th-year coach Jim Bibler said. "I think some kids put in a lot of good work. We're just looking to make improvements on our OCC finishes."

The top boys runners include senior Gary Weckerly, juniors Ryan Gray, Blake Frisch, Eric Stewart and Sebastian Stewart and sophomores Noah Hatton and Luke Todt.

In a Division I district meet last year, Frisch finished 49th (17 minutes, 31.9 seconds), Eric Stewart finished 90th (18:58.5) and Todt finished (102nd, 20:25.3) as the Pacers placed 11th.

The goal this year is advancing at least one step further.

"I think we could qualify for regionals as a team this year," Frisch said. "We have a good group of guys that are going to be scoring points for the team, instead of just one person placing and going to regionals."

Brian Frisch, Blake's older brother, graduated after being the Pacers' lone representative at regional last year. He finished 78th of 125 runners in 17:26.3 after placing eighth (16:27.9) at district.

On the girls side, top runners include seniors Leila Bouziri, Brynn McGrail and Lauren English, juniors Miranda Gemberling and Kailyn Smith and sophomore Danica Davelli.

Gemberling finished 45th (21:25.5) at district last fall to lead the Pacers. McGrail finished 50th (21:35.8), Smith finished 75th (22:53.9) and English finished 77th (23:06.6).

"I like our girls team to do better at OCCs, if we have the OCC meet," McGrail said. "Hopefully we can place high."

The Pacers will be without sophomore Ashley Sallows, who Bibler said had a good offseason but had to stop running because of an injury.

Delaware opened Aug. 29 with a dual meet at Buckeye Valley.

The boys won 21-40 as Blake Frisch finished first (18:58). The girls lost 17-30 as Bouziri led the Pacers by finishing fifth (22:32).

"The big thing was the work that they've put in in the offseason," Bibler said. "There's not a lot you can do if they don't come in in August in pretty good shape. So I think probably the top seven or eight boys and the top seven or eight girls have put in some pretty good work in the offseason, so there's the No. 1 thing and I think we accomplished that."

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

At a glance

CROSS COUNTRY

*Coach: Jim Bibler, 16th season

*Top athletes: Boys -- Ryan Gray, Blake Frisch, Noah Hatton, Eric Stewart, Sebastian Stewart, Luke Todt and Gary Weckerly; Girls -- Leila Bouziri, Danica Davelli, Lauren English, Miranda Gemberling, Brynn McGrail and Kailyn Smith

*Key losses: Boys -- Brian Frisch and Eric Puthoff; Girls -- Ashley Sallows

*OCC-Cardinal standings: Boys -- Thomas Worthington (59), Dublin Jerome (72), Dublin Scioto (94), Worthington Kilbourne (97), Hilliard Bradley (108), Olentangy Berlin (125), Hilliard Darby (135), Delaware (182); Girls -- Thomas (51), Kilbourne (64), Berlin (79), Darby (91), Jerome (99), Scioto (161), Delaware (204), Bradley (217)

*2019 postseason: Boys -- 11th at district; Girls -- 10th at district