New Albany Roundup: Victor Orsinelli, Will Benseler lead boys runners to league title

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
New Albany's Victor Orsinelli won the individual title in the OCC-Ohio boys cross country meet Oct. 17 at Pickerington Central, helping the Eagles capture the team championship.

The New Albany boys cross country team thought it was in good shape during the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 17 at Pickerington Central, but just to be safe, the coaching staff was there to tell the runners they weren’t.

At least that’s what coach John Galbreath and his assistants wanted the Eagles to think, up until they finished a dominant performance by scoring 35 points to finish first in their debut season in the league.

“The guys kept saying ‘coach, you were acting like we needed to catch people’ and I told them that wasn’t for this week. That’s how we’ll need to think in a couple weeks,” Galbreath said. “We could have said to take it easy, but it takes that type of effort (in the postseason). You have to be able to chase somebody down and have to respond. The guys did a great job responding to every challenge.”

Victor Orsinelli finished first in 16 minutes, 3.39 seconds, leading the Eagles for the seventh time in as many races this season, and was followed closely by teammates Will Benseler (third, 16:31.22) and Ethan McNichols (fourth, 16:45.74) as New Albany defeated runner-up Pickerington North by 26 points. Also scoring were Colin Swincicki (13th, 17:16.51) and Luke Weibel (14th, 17:17.12).

It was a familiar order for the Eagles, given that Benseler was the team’s second runner in all seven regular-season races and McNichols was third in the final six.

New Albany hoped that consistency continued in a postseason that began Oct. 24 with the Division I, district 1 meet at Hilliard Darby.

“I know I can go out fast and set the pace for a race but knowing we’re going to see a lot of higher-level runners, that’s when you need to go out and see how long you can hold that (top spot),” Orsinelli said. “I’ve just run how I’ve always been running. It’s worked out well. I expect myself to work as hard as possible and it’s worked out that way. Each race is different but it’s gone well.”

Benseler said Orsinelli’s performance is partly responsible for his own success.

“I’m always trying to tag on to his tails as long as I can,” Benseler said. “But as long as we stay consistent as long as we can, that’s where the points will come. No one will win it alone.”

The girls finished third (55) in the league meet behind champion North (49).

Ellie McClelland was second (19:36.9), followed by Stephanie Thomas (eighth, 20:24.7), Nicole Stewart (12th, 20:38), Mary Schultz (16th, 21:19.4) and Elise Hill (17th, 21:20.8).

McClelland, a freshman, was the Eagles’ top runner for the fifth time this year.

In district 1, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pickerington North.

The girls team was in district 2, from which the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced.

“Everything was so fast (during the regular season) because the conditions were so awesome, plus we’ve been training hard but trying to keep our legs fresh,” Galbreath said. “We still lift every Thursday. The goal is to make the state meet and that’s what we’re continuing to train for. It’s so competitive for those spots.”

New Albany's Will Fischer, left, and Gavin Miriello battle Dublin Coffman's Jack Bailey for the ball during their game Sept. 1. The Eagles entered the Division I district tournament on a high note, going 8-1-1 in their final 10 regular-season games.

Boys soccer team

rolls into tourney

With its only loss in the final month of the regular season having come against a top-five team in the state, the second-seeded boys soccer team was 12-3-1 before playing host to 33rd-seeded Delaware on Oct. 22 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

New Albany went 8-1-1 in its final 10 regular-season games after a 2-1 loss to Darby on Sept. 10. The Eagles, who outscored five OCC-Ohio opponents 17-2 in that span to win the league championship at 5-0, suffered their only setback to Medina, 2-1 on Oct. 10. 

The Bees were ranked fourth in Division I in last week’s state poll.

New Albany led Medina 1-0 with 13 minutes to play before the Bees scored twice in seven minutes.

Kameron Kist led the Eagles in goals during the regular season with nine, 20% of the team’s total.

The New Albany-Delaware winner faced 24th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 30th-seeded Marysville in a district semifinal Oct. 27. That winner will face seventh-seeded Dublin Scioto, 10th-seeded Upper Arlington, 13th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 18th-seeded Olentangy in a district final Saturday, Oct. 31.

The district champion will advance to a regional semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 4.

All games through at least the district finals will be at the home of the better seed.

Top players expected

back for tennis team

Three of the girls tennis team’s four Division I district qualifiers are eligible to return in junior Helen Wang, sophomore Demi Shostak and freshman Paige Cornelius.

Cornelius, who was playing singles, and Shostak and Wang each came within a win of becoming New Albany’s first state qualifiers since 2016. They went 1-1 in district Oct. 15 at Reynoldsburg, after Cornelius finished second in a sectional the previous weekend on the same courts and Wang and Shostak placed third.

New Albany’s fourth district qualifier was senior Madison Spiess, who went 0-1 in singles and has been a top contributor for the girls golf team. She will golf collegiately at Santa Clara.

Other players expected back from a team that went 13-4 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio, winning the program’s 14th league championship in 15 years, are juniors Elizabeth Campbell, Kary Hollenbaugh and Justina Sung. 

Hollenbaugh also is on the golf team. Cornelius split her time between tennis and field hockey, in which she is a starting midfielder.

The Eagles were in their first year in the OCC-Ohio after 14 in the OCC-Capital and won all 25 courts in league play.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

GIRLS TENNIS

Record: 13-4 overall

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Westerville Central (4-1), Gahanna (3-2), Pickerington North (2-3), Grove City (1-4), Westland (0-5)

Seniors lost: Carly Borovetz, Roshni Chandawarkar, Sonali Shah and Madison Spiess

Key returnees: Elizabeth Campbell, Paige Cornelius, Demi Shostak, Justina Sung and Helen Wang