Notebook: Westerville Central's Tara Will had 'learning experience' at state

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Central junior Tara Will finished 105th in the Division I state cross country meet Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz. “It was a learning experience this year for Tara,” coach Ryan Borland said. "Next time she’s here she’s going to do a lot better.”

Ryan Borland concluded his coaching career at Westerville Central by guiding junior Tara Will in the Division I state cross country meet Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz.

Borland has stepped down as girls cross country and track and field coach to take over the boys track team at Big Walnut, pending school board approval.

Borland completed his 14th season as Central cross country coach, and he spent 12 years as the girls track coach.

“It was pretty cool to get to this with (Will),” Borland said. “I’ll never forget these girls. It’s a great group and what they’ve been through this year this was a big goal for Tara to get to state. I think we’re leaving the program in good shape.”

Will finished 105th of 176 runners in 20 minutes, 8.9 seconds. Mia Robillard of Centerville won in 17:58.5.

“It was a learning experience this year for Tara,” Borland said. “We had a lot of small races this year, so it’s the first time she’s been in some of these large packs where she got trapped and had trouble getting out of. Next time she’s here she’s going to do a lot better.”

The Warhawks finished fourth (58) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Oct. 17 at Pickerington Central behind champion Pickerington North (49).

Competing in the district 3 meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby, Central finished fifth (133) behind champion Upper Arlington (70) as Will placed sixth (19:31.3).

The Warhawks finished 10th (246) at regional Oct. 31 at North behind champion Hilliard Davidson (42). Will was 15th (19:44.5) to earn her first state berth.

Other key runners eligible to return include sophomores Kylie Hansen and Rylee Mensel and freshmen Ellie Luba and Alexa Ryan.

•The Central boys cross country team capped its season by finishing 11th (266) at regional behind champion Davidson (57).

Senior Haden Fulkerson led the Warhawks by placing 21st (16:39.8) of 126 runners, one spot shy of a state-qualifying berth.

“I know how much Haden wanted to qualify for the state meet,” coach Jason Loughman said. “Sometimes that next spot is harder to swallow than maybe being 40th or 50th when you’re that close. He was awesome the way he responded to it. He ran a solid race. He knows he had a really successful season.”

Central finished third (88) in district 1 behind champion Davidson (27), and Fulkerson was 10th of 95 runners in 16:36.2 to advance to regional.

The Warhawks finished fourth (64) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind champion New Albany (35) as Fulkerson placed fifth (16:56.6).

Fulkerson is second (15:56.8) on the program’s all-time list behind 2013 graduate Brandon Shirey (15:50.3). Junior Chip Smith has the third-fastest time (15:56).

Other key runners eligible to return include juniors Dominic Iquina and Aidan Nowalk, sophomores Brady Kerrigan and Ben Yasnowski and freshmen Noah Gibson, Donovan Johnson and Parker Thompson.

Junior Emily Ellsworth is expected to be among the top returnees for the South girls cross country team.

•Freshman Meghan Worch emerged as the top runner for the South girls cross country team, as she finished 53rd at regional in 20:43.7.

The Wildcats finished eighth (208) in district 3, with Worch earning the regional berth by placing 16th (20:09.1).

“Meghan is an even-paced runner, so once she figured out the 5K distance and where her strength as a runner fits into the race, she really found her groove a couple meets in and just kept getting stronger and stronger and more and more confident each time out,” coach Jimmy Gaul said.

Worch finished 10th (20:26.6) as South tied Westerville North for fourth (101) in the OCC-Capital meet Oct. 17 at North behind champion Dublin Scioto (63).

Other key runners eligible to return include juniors Abigail Cumming-Vukovic, Emily Ellsworth and Emma Henderson, sophomores Annalyssa Earl and Jessica Lehman and freshmen Ella Deichert, Sarah Marinov and Audrey Paes.

•The South boys cross country team closed its season by finishing ninth (257) in district 1 as sophomores Andrew McCracken (44th, 17:59.3) and Gabriel Combs (49th, 18:24.6) led the way.

South finished seventh (151) in the league meet behind champion Scioto (32) as Combs was 18th (17:43.9) to lead the Wildcats.

Other key runners eligible to return include juniors Eeshwar Gattupalli, Chase Jackson, Philip Simms, Teague Svendsen and Stephen Vilardo and freshman Colin Andrews.

“The seniors have come a long way and contributed a lot to the program over the course of their careers,” Gaul said. “They’ve grown and evolved as runners and leaders. Especially in a year like this where so much is thrown at them, it was a great thing for us as coaches to have people that we’ve known and developed and teammates that everyone knows step into those leadership roles.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

CENTRAL CROSS COUNTRY

OCC-Ohio standings: Boys — New Albany (35), Pickerington North (61), Gahanna (63), Westerville Central (64), Grove City (152), Westland (187);  Girls — North (49), Gahanna (50), New Albany (55), Central (58), Grove City (150)

Seniors lost: Boys — Ian Barta, Matt Drexel, Haden Fulkerson, Evan Kienle, Elijah Paciorek, Evan Radecki and Randy Tran; Girls — Kennedy Callow, Lauryn Chapman, Alyssa Focht, Emma Funderburg, Ashley Hockstok, Lily Kalinke, Allyson Okonak, Chloe Stefan-Adams and Hannah Thomas

Key returnees: Boys — Noah Gibson, Dominic Iquina, Donovan Johnson and Chip Smith; Girls — Rylee Mensel, Alexa Ryan and Tara Will

Postseason: Boys — Third (88) at district behind champion Hilliard Davidson (27), 11th (266) at regional behind champion Davidson (57); Girls — Fifth (133) at district behind champion Upper Arlington (70), 10th (246) at regional behind champion Davidson (42)

SOUTH CROSS COUNTRY

OCC-Capital standings: Boys — Dublin Scioto (32), Worthington Kilbourne (54), Westerville North (90), Canal Winchester (91), Delaware (118), Big Walnut (148), Westerville South (151); Girls — Scioto (63), Canal Winchester (79), Big Walnut (97), North and South (both 101), Kilbourne (107), Delaware (113)

Seniors lost: Boys — Liam Allbritton, Caedin Bouton, Paul Braskett and Isaac Weaver; Girls — Taylor Hughes, Marley Jackson, Isabelle Kotik, Inioluwa Oyewusi and Abigail Williams

Key returnees: Boys — Gabriel Combs, Chase Jackson, Andrew McCracken and Stephen Vilardo; Girls — Abigail Cumming-Vukovic, Sarah Marinov, Aubrey Paes and Meghan Worch

Postseason: Boys — Ninth (257) at district behind champion Davidson (27); Girls — Eighth (208) at district behind champion UA (70)