Hilliard Davidson High School boys cross country coach Pat Schlecht scheduled an easy day for the boys cross country team Aug. 21 -- a four-mile run. He ended up adding on an extra conditioning drill after the run, but the overall feeling was that it was an easy day.

Hilliard Davidson High School boys cross country coach Pat Schlecht scheduled an easy day for the boys cross country team Aug. 21 -- a four-mile run. He ended up adding on an extra conditioning drill after the run, but the overall feeling was that it was an easy day.

The Wildcats, who finished fifth with 106 points behind champion Toledo St. John's (36) in the opener last Saturday in the Hot Summer Bash at Galion Northmor and will next compete Sept. 6 in the Watkins Memorial Invitational, are taking a more relaxed approach at the beginning of the season in order to keepthe runners from running out of gasin the postseason.

"We're taking a slow approach to the season," Schlecht said. "We're not going to try to win every early season meet. We're going to start slower and try to pick it up as the season goes along."

The Wildcats made it to the Division I state meet last year and scored 263 points to finish 15th of 16 teams. They were disappointed with the finish. Part of this year's strategy is designed to help them place higher.

Davidson used the strength of its pack to score 107 points in the regional to place second behind Pickerington North. The Wildcats also scored 45 points to finish ahead of Hilliard Darby (112) to win the district 2 title and scored 27 points to win the OCC-Buckeye championship ahead of Reynoldsburg (46).

This year they expect to have some front-runners in seniors Anthony Boyd, Cole Kenyon and Yoshi Shimizu.

Boyd right now is nursing an injury, but he's expected to return to form by the postseason.

Also looking for spots on the team are senior Josh Brown and juniors Kyle Dillahunt, Nathan Moore and Elliot Mear, as well as sophomores Steven Boyd, Kyle Dembenski and Jack Shaeffer.

"Our varsity runners logged about 500 miles this summer," Brown said.

"We ran our annual fundraiser race and our top five guys this year are faster than last year. So we're already looking like a stronger varsity team than we were last year."

In the OCC-Buckeye meet this year, Davidson will compete against Darby as well as Central Crossing, Dublin Coffman, Thomas Worthington, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne.

•Under first-year coach Emily Holliday, the girls team switched the training regimen during the summer to include more cross training.

Instead of only running, many on the team did bicycle and swimming workouts to prepare for the season and Holliday is already starting to see the work show.

"We have a lot of girls that are running their personal-best times now or we expect them to this week," said Holliday two days before her team finished third last Saturday in the Pickerington North Invitational with 86 points to trail champion Cincinnati Colerain (58) and Thomas Worthington (65). "The beginning of the season isn't when we want to (set personal records), but many of them have trained harder this summer than before."

"We already did a fundraiser 5K and we had a lot of girls PR," Holliday said. "We're still not ready to go. They did better than they've done before, but I think it's that they're overall better athletes, not necessarily the running part. I definitely see us improving a lot."

Senior Tori Brink should be the Wildcats' top runner. She returns after finishing 51st (19 minutes, 35.31 seconds) in the state meet.

As a team the Wildcats made it to the regional, where they finished sixth (151) behind champion Mason (111). Along with Brink, senior Bridget Onders and sophomores Aubrey Gilliland and Jessica Hoover return after having competed at regional.

Davidson was runner-up (81) in the district 2 race behind Thomas Worthington (62). The Wildcats were third (49) in the OCC-Buckeye meet behind champion Dublin Coffman (32).

With Brink back, Holliday is looking for runners to help support her up front.

"We're going to move our pack up more or maybe spread into two packs and have one up front and then another close behind," Brink said. "It's a little bit different. Last year we were more spread out."

Along with Brink, Gilliland, Hoover and Onders, also competing are junior Lauren Winters and freshman Caroline Hildebrand.

"It motivates us seeing (Brink) run at the state meet," Onders said. "We've been there to support her. We want to be there to run with her."

At a glance

•Coach: Boys -- Pat Schlecht, 12th season; Girls -- Emily Holliday, first season

•Next meet: Boys -- Sept. 6 sy McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial; Girls -- Saturday at Bucyrus Invitational

•Key runners: Boys -- Anthony Boyd, Cole Kenyon and Yoshi Shimizu; Girls -- Tori Brink, Jessica Hoover and Bridget Onders