Delaware Hayes Roundup: Brynn McGrail overcomes adversity to pace girls runners
The cross country season has meant a lot to runners throughout central Ohio who weren’t sure if there would be a season at all amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
To Delaware Hayes' Brynn McGrail, it has meant even more.
McGrail, a senior on the girls team, missed significant time the past two years after she suffered a stress fracture in her right foot before her sophomore season and a health ailment as a junior.
This year, McGrail is healthy and has established herself as a leader for the Pacers. She led them in the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 17 at Westerville North, where she finished 12th (20 minutes, 43.8 seconds) of 70 runners behind champion Audrey Bannister (19:05.5) of Dublin Scioto to earn second-team all-league honors.
“Coming into this season, I talked to my coaches about things I could control and getting the little stuff right and taking care of my health,” McGrail said. “Kind of when everything was lining up during summer training, I was pretty excited for the season, and that just helped my confidence with racing."
“One of my main goals this season was for Brynn to race well, because I knew how bad she wanted to do well,” coach Jim Bibler said. “You always want your seniors to finish strong. You want them to have a good season.”
Also among the top seven Pacers in the league meet were Leila Bouziri (13th, 20:44.6), Rowan Hering (26th, 21:33.5), Miranda Gemberling (30th, 21:53.6), Sammy West (32nd, 21:57), Julia Young (44th, 22:15.7) and Lauren English (53rd, 22:40.4). Delaware finished seventh (113) behind champion Scioto (63), and the Pacers boys team finished fifth (118) behind champion Scioto (32).
It’s been a bounce-back season for McGrail, who posted her personal-best time of 20:31.5 in the Celtic Clash on Sept. 26 at Dublin Jerome to finish 33rd.
“I’m pretty happy with my senior year. It would have been cool if I could have done this like sophomore year, obviously, and didn’t have so many setbacks, but I think I’ve learned a lot from that,” McGrail said. “So it’s kind of cool to see that I can come back this year, and there’s really not a better season to do your best than senior year.”
“When she had a good race, I was really relieved, and it took a lot of pressure off of her because she’s been saying ‘I don’t have very many chances to do well, and I really want to do well,’ ” Bibler said. “And she was putting a lot of pressure on herself. So when she finally had a really good race, I think that took a lot of pressure off of her.”
With the setbacks behind her, McGrail said she has taken it upon herself to mentor younger girls on the team who are dealing with obstacles of their own.
“I’ve helped girls that are kind of having rough seasons with injuries and mental setbacks, and I’ve definitely had a lot of that,” McGrail said. “So I’m helping them see that if you’re missing races because of injuries, there’s still time to come back.
“You don’t have to PR every race. I think freshman year, usually you PR a lot. So sophomore year feels like a block; it takes a toll on you mentally. I’ve been able to tell them, ‘I missed all of my sophomore year. You can definitely bounce back and keep at it and do what you can.' ”
The OCC-Capital meet also was the Pacers' final tune-up for Division I district competition Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby. At district, the top six teams and runners not on a qualifying team who finished in the top 24 advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pickerington North.
Boys soccer team
wins tourney opener
The 33rd-seeded boys soccer team defeated visiting and 35th-seeded Logan 3-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 20.
The Pacers improved to 5-9-3 and advanced to play at second-seeded New Albany on Oct. 22. The winner of that contest will play 24th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 30th-seeded Marysville in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the home of the better-seeded team, and that winner plays for a district championship Saturday, Oct. 31.
Brayden Shorter, Kai Mays and Dylan Ashworth all scored against Logan. Ashworth also had an assist.
Volleyball team falls
in district tournament
The 14th-seeded girls volleyball team was upset by visiting and 25th-seeded Bradley 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19.
Senior Anna Johnson had 21 digs, 16 assists and five kills against the Jaguars. Senior Ally Gray had 23 digs, junior Chloe Jeffers had 17 digs, 10 assists and five kills and junior Natalie Davis had 11 kills and two aces.
“This group of girls did so many good things this season,” coach Raynard Martin said. “Our players were invested, believed in each other and were led by a good group of seniors. I’m sure our program will continue to grow and take another step forward after seeing so much success this season.”
The Pacers finished 16-7 overall and placed third (10-4) in the OCC-Capital behind Scioto (14-0) and Worthington Kilbourne (11-3).
Gray (libero) and Johnson (setter) are among four players who will be lost to graduation.
Expected key returnees include Jeffers (setter), Davis (outside hitter) and juniors Bailey Christiansen (middle hitter) and Audrey Lenocker (middle/right-side hitter).
•Record: 16-7 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Dublin Scioto (14-0), Worthington Kilbourne (11-3), Delaware (10-4), Big Walnut (9-5), Canal Winchester and Westerville South (both 5-9), Westerville North (2-12), Franklin Heights (0-14)
•Seniors lost: Rachael Crewe, Ally Gray, Anna Johnson and Madelyn Kaasa
•Key returnees: Bailey Christiansen, Natalie Davis, Chloe Jeffers and Audrey Lenocker
•Postseason: Lost to Hilliard Bradley 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15 in first round of Division I district tournament