Boys Cross Country: Dublin Coffman counting on improved depth
Even after losing one of the state's top runners to graduation, the Dublin Coffman boys cross country team believes it could improve on last year's performance.
The biggest reason for optimism is that the Shamrocks could have more depth than last season when 2020 graduate Alex Dediu helped them finish 11th at regional. Dediu then placed eighth in the Division I state meet.
The top returnees are junior Noah Clemens and sophomore Liam Shaughnessy, who placed 60th (17 minutes, 10.4 seconds) and 61st (17:13.6), respectively, at regional.
"We hope to be better than we were last year," second-year coach Joe DePalma said. "We're hoping we can have a full season and be competitive in the postseason. Our region is deep, but I hope we'll be right there in the mix with the rest of the pack come late October.
"A couple of our guys have their eyes set on trying to qualify individually to the state meet as well, and I think they've got the training and talent to do so."
Coffman, which next competes Saturday, Sept. 19, at home against Scioto, is coming off a third-place finish in last year's OCC-Central Division meet. Hilliard Davidson and Upper Arlington also are holdovers in the league, which now is rounded out by Hilliard Bradley, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange.
Senior Ryan Loynes, junior Isaac Frank and sophomore Will McGraw also were key contributors who have returned, and DePalma said sophomore Jackson Roe has been running well.
Others looking to contribute include seniors Andy Clemens, Ben Seemann, Dylan Segieth and Mitchell Yeater.
The only others lost to graduation were Shashwat Rao and Colin Gagne, who were the Shamrocks' No. 4 and No. 7 runners, respectively, at regional.
"As with all teams, I'm sure, it's been a difficult season this year," DePalma said. "We had a few meets get canceled on us, so our schedule isn't quite as full as normal. We've made adjustments with the way we practice to better support social distancing and to keep our athletes as safe as possible.
"None of that, though, stopped our boys from putting in a good summer's work with their training, so we're excited to see what the fall holds."
Celtics not looking to take step back
Since Dave Wadenstierna took over as coach in 2012, Jerome has had at least one individual advance to the Division I state meet in all but one season.
He's hoping to extend that streak even without 2020 graduate Elliott Cook, a four-time state qualifier who finished fourth (15:34.3) a year ago.
Three of the Celtics' postseason competitors have returned and a strong newcomer has further boosted their hopes.
"I'm excited about the group we have this year," Wadenstierna said.
"We have a good mix of experienced seniors and young emerging varsity contributors. All of these guys will need to carry some of the load for us to succeed."
Jerome finished seventh (185) in the 13-team Hot Summer Bash on Sept. 5 at Davidson behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (46).
Wadenstierna believes freshman Sam Ricchiuti will be an "instant impact guy," and seniors Andrew Bartsch and Gunnar Grass, juniors David Hartman and Carson Smith and sophomore Josh Razor all are returnees.
At last year's regional, Smith was the team's No. 2 runner, finishing 59th (17:09.8), while Razor was 69th (17:17.6).
Ricchiuti finished 10th (16:13.73) at the Hot Summer Bash and Razor was 26th (16:48.01).
Seniors Jordan Gross and Reid Weigle, junior Nolan Boyea and sophomore Samual Boggess are other top runners for Jerome, which was runner-up (72) in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind Thomas Worthington (59).
Jerome is now joined in the OCC-Cardinal by Thomas, Hilliard Darby, Marysville, Olentangy and Olentangy Berlin.
"On an individual level, I'm excited to see some of the younger guys develop into more prominent roles this season," Wadenstierna said.
"As a team, the goal is to have another positive showing at the regional meet and hopefully qualify to states as a team."
Irish return solid nucleus
Scioto returns a solid group that helped it reach the Division I regional a season ago.
Coach Kevin Foley, who is in his 26th season, said three runners have competed for the No. 1 spot in the early season.
That group includes junior Spencer McClellan, one of the returnees who is poised to take on a bigger role.
"He's greatly improved," Foley said.
"He's really come into his own. He's going to have a big year. He's very talented. If he keeps the confidence up, it's good news for us."
McClellan is being pushed by seniors Ali Latif and Trevor Page, with Latif coming off his first state appearance as an individual. He finished 109th (16:48.6).
"Ali is a state qualifier and Trevor is running really well," Foley said.
"Ali is very goal-driven. He's a selfless runner. When he stumbles, he gets back up and comes back with more resolve. The state meet is high motivation."
Sophomores Reece Page and Bryce Page have rounded out the top five. Trevor, Reece and Bryce are brothers, and Reece and Bryce are twins.
McClellan, Trevor Page, Bryce Page and Reece Page joined Latif at the regional last season, where Scioto finished seventh.
A key loss to graduation was Sam Thomas, who also qualified for state as an individual and finished 31st (16:04.5).
Senior Andrew Leonard, junior Justin Ward and freshmen Boston Berry and Weston Day are others who are expected to contribute.
"There's a lot of competitions for spots," Foley said. "There are a few others that are positioning themselves to be in the mix, too."
The Irish finished third (94) in the OCC-Cardinal meet last season behind champion Thomas (59).
After the latest conference realignment, Scioto is in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.
"(The) goals remain the same," Foley said.
"(We want to) improve upon last year. The goal is always the challenges. We know where we've been, (but) can we move up?"
At a glance
*Coach: Joe DePalma, second season
*Top athletes: Noah Clemens, Isaac Frank, Ryan Loynes, Will McGraw, Jackson Roe and Liam Shaughnessy
*Key losses: Alex Dediu, Colin Gagne and Shashwat Rao
*2019 OCC-Central standings: Hilliard Davidson (26), Upper Arlington (61), Coffman (64), Marysville (90), Westland (155)
*2019 postseason: Third at district, 11th at regional
*Coach: Dave Wadenstierna, ninth season
*Top athletes: Andrew Bartsch, Gunnar Grass, David Hartman, Joshua Razor, Sam Ricchiuti and Carson Smith
*Key losses: Elliott Cook, Jack Rozich and Nik Wagner
*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas Worthington (59), Jerome (72), Scioto (94), Worthington Kilbourne (97), Hilliard Bradley (108), Olentangy Berlin (125), Hilliard Darby (135), Delaware (182)
*2019 postseason: Fourth at district, 13th at regional
*Coach: Kevin Foley, 26th season
*Top athletes: Ali Latif, Spencer McClellan, Bryce Page, Reese Page and Trevor Page
*Key losses: Antonio Loor, Sam Thomas and Dylan Walsh
*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas (59), Jerome (72), Scioto (94), Kilbourne (97), Bradley (108), Berlin (125), Darby (135), Delaware (182)
*2019 postseason: Fifth at district, seventh at regional