Boys Cross Country: Thomas Worthington needs new runners to step forward

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
Junior Ben Smith is among the top returnees for Thomas and seventh-year coach Bill Darling.

The Thomas Worthington boys cross country team is coming off an OCC-Cardinal Division title and a berth in the Division I state meet, but repeating those accomplishments will require some runners to step up.

"A lot of these guys haven't been in this position. For a lot of these kids, this is their first year being in this spot, to be varsity every week," seventh-year coach Bill Darling said. "Our fortunes, they rise and fall with how well these kids run. They've responded to that very well. They're doing a good job."

Top athletes include seniors Macario Etienne, Wesley Horton, Victor Nash and Noah Silliman, junior Ben Smith, sophomore David Horton and freshman Ethan Morgan.

Silliman finished 93rd (16 minutes, 39.5 seconds), Smith was 179th (17:40.3) and Etienne was 180th (17:45.7) out of 186 runners at state, where Thomas was last (413) in the 20-team field behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (92).

Regardless of his team's level of experience, Darling said the Cardinals are aiming for another trip to state.

"It's a great group of kids," he said. "Honestly, we didn't have a whole lot of expectations. We were just grateful to have a season. But looking at how they worked in the summer and how we've done in the first couple of meets, we're setting our goal pretty high.

"We would like to try to win the OCC, and these kids want to be one of five teams that gets a ticket out of the regional and goes to the state meet."

The Cardinals opened with a quad meet Aug. 29, finishing second (51) behind Lancaster (40) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (52) and host Granville (82).

Silliman finished second (16.56.13) of 46 runners and Wesley Horton finished third (16:57.34), followed by Smith (11th,17:28.25), David Horton (15th, 17:47.83), Nash (23rd, 18:27,43), Etienne (29th, 18:48.04) and sophomore Samuel Caine (30th, 18:52.12).

The Cardinals remained in the OCC-Cardinal in the conference's latest realignment. They are joined by Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Darby, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin and Marysville.

Wolves relying on younger group

Kilbourne will have a young team after losing Division I state-qualifiers Tanner Williams and John Cuozzo to graduation.

Williams finished seventh (15:40.7) at state behind champion Matt Duvall of Pickerington North (15:13), and Cuozzo was 40th (16:09.9).

The roster includes 13 freshmen and eight sophomores along with 13 seniors and six juniors.

"We've got a super-young team," second-year coach Josh Stegman said. "But they work really hard, they work really well together, so that's something that's been pretty impressive."

Top runners are expected to include senior Will Bartram, junior Luke Miller and freshmen A.J. Hawkins, Steven Miller and Ryan Smith.

Luke Miller placed 79th (17:26.5) and Bartram was 110th (18:07) out of 125 runners at last year's regional.

Stegman said the Wolves have potential despite their youth.

"It's definitely exciting that the kids see the writing on the wall, that if we continue to work hard enough and continue to have this solid core and group that works together, who knows what could happen," he said.

The Wolves opened at the Pickerington North Classic on Aug. 29 by placing second (55) in their race behind Jerome (28).

Luke Miller was fifth (17:39.5), followed by Smith (eighth, 17:42.2), Hawkins (12th, 18:17), Steven Miller (14th, 18:21.6), Bartram (17th, 18:23.3), freshman Stephen Tice (27th, 19.11.5), junior Jackson Pinschenat (31st, 19:24.9), junior Nick Baughman (38th, 19:46.2), freshman Levi Knuth (40th, 19:50.7), sophomore Ben Ambler (41st, 19:50.8) and senior Luke Compton (43rd, 19:59).

Kilbourne also competed in the Westerville North Classic on Sept. 5, placing seventh (130) behind champion Pickerington North (71).

Kilbourne's top finisher was Luke Miller, who was 10th (16:44) out of 101 runners. Also finishing in the top 30 were Smith (19th, 17.03.7) and Steven Miller (30th, 17:28.9).

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

At a glance

WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE

*Coach: Josh Stegman, second season

*Top athletes: Will Bartram, A.J. Hawkins, Luke Miller, Steven Miller and Ryan Smith

*Key losses: Tanner Williams, John Cuozzo and Gabe Knuth

*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas (59), Dublin Jerome (72), Dublin Scioto (94), Kilbourne (97), Bradley (108), Olentangy Berlin (125), Darby (135), Delaware (182)

*2019 postseason: Fifth at district, 14th at regional

THOMAS WORTHINGTON

*Coach: Bill Darling, seventh season

*Top athletes: Macario Etienne, David Horton, Wesley Horton, Ethan Morgan, Victor Nash, Noah Silliman and Ben Smith

*Key losses: Jack Caine, Zubin Jha, Nate Johnson and Andres Mira

*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas (59), Jerome (72), Scioto (94), Kilbourne (97), Bradley (108), Berlin (125), Darby (135), Delaware (182)

*2019 postseason: Ninth at district, fourth at regional, 20th at state