The Hilliard Davidson High School girls cross country team closed the gap with Upper Arlington by 18 points last Saturday at the Division I, district 1 meet.

The Hilliard Davidson High School girls cross country team closed the gap with Upper Arlington by 18 points last Saturday at the Division I, district 1 meet.

Davidson finished second (51 points) to UA (45) at Watkins Memorial and that has made the team think that a trip to the state meet Nov. 7 at Scioto Downs is on the line Saturday when the teams meet again in the regional meet at Pickerington North.

In the OCC-Central meet Oct. 17, Davidson was second (64) to the Golden Bears (40).

"We definitely improved," said Jessica Hoover, who won the district 1 meet championship in 19 minutes, 29.83 seconds. "We're six points away from UA. Hopefully (Saturday) we can finish ahead of them."

The performance capped a strong day for the city's high school teams, as all three boys teams and all three girls teams qualified for the regional.

The top four teams and individuals not on a qualifying team who finish in the top 16 in the regional meet will advance to the state meet.

Hoover is seeking her second consecutive appearance at the state meet.

The regional meet includes the top four finishers and 16 individuals from each of the three Central District races last Saturday, as well as the top four finishers and 16 individuals from one of the Northwest District's races.

In addition to Davidson and UA in the district 1 girls race, Thomas Worthington (88) and Olentangy Orange (101) also advanced to the regional.

Davidson coach Emily Holiday said Dublin Scioto, the district 2 champion, and Sylvania Northview, a champion from the Northwest District, are virtual locks to make it to the state meet, leaving everyone else clamoring for the remaining two qualifying spots.

Scioto won the district 2 meet with 23 points, finishing well ahead of fellow regional qualifiers Dublin Coffman (63), Pickerington North (84) and Darby (127).

Darby qualified as a team for the first time in two years.

Darby's Shannon Kelleher finished fifth (20:33.97), behind Scioto's Keelin Gorman (20:15.38) last Saturday, advanced to the regional for a third time. She said the pace of Saturday's race is going to be eye-opener if her teammates aren't ready.

"There are definitely a lot of faster runners," Kelleher said. "You have to be ready to run your race."

Kelleher could be among the top finishers, along with district 3 champion Allison Stillwell (19:04.69) of Dresden Tri-Valley and Meredith Wagner of Northview (18:38.20), the Northwest District district 2 champion.

Team qualifiers from district 3 are Canal Winchester (59), Watkins Memorial (65), Mount Vernon (72) and Marietta (112).

Bradley also is going to compete Saturday, but in Division II. The Jaguars were fourth (98) last Saturday in the district 1 meet, behind Granville (22), Bexley (72) and Columbus School for Girls (86).

Lauren McCabe was Bradley's top finisher, finishing fifth (20:50.81) to Granville's Megan Gaysunas (20:23.7).

The top four teams and individuals not on a qualifying team who finish in the top 16 in Division II advance to the state meet.

ĽOn the boys side, Darby coach Cori Schulte sees Saturday's Division I regional coming down to one or two available spots. With the improvement that Darby showed last Saturday, the Panthers could be poised to take one of those.

Schulte said Dublin Coffman and Pickerington North were the most likely teams to advance, but that Darby had a good shot.

The Panthers finished second (69) to North (38) in the district 1 meet.

"There's always health concerns and injuries, but Coffman and (North) I think will be there," Schulte said. "The fourth spot will be there (for the taking). We're not that far off UA and there's Reynoldsburg and Westerville North. We'll be right there in the mix for that third or fourth spot."

The regional meet won't contain anyone who didn't compete in a district race at Watkins Memorial.

The 16-team regional includes the top five teams from the district 1 and district 2 meets and six teams from district 3.

Also advancing from district 1 was Dublin Jerome, which was third (89), Westerville Central (92) and Watkins Memorial (162).

Leading Darby is Jay McKenna, who was fourth (16:41.35) behind champion Daniel Garleb (16:14.61) of Pickerington North. Both are expected to be among the top finishers, along with Davidson's Kenta Shimizu, who was second (16:53.82) behind New Albany's Blake Taneff (16:40.1) in the district 3 meet.

Westerville North's Jeff Hannaford, the district 2 champion (16:39.97), also is among the favorites.

Davidson was fourth (114) in the district 3 meet behind champion New Albany (67), Reynoldsburg (69) and Olentangy Liberty (76).

Bradley, which was fifth (118) in the district 3 meet, also advanced to the regional as well as sixth-place Thomas Worthington (141).

Austin Alpeter led Bradley with a ninth-place finish (17:33.72).

Westerville North won the district 2 meet with 68 points, ahead of regional-qualifiers Coffman (73), UA (87) and Westerville South (97).

Davidson won the regional championship last year with 76 points. Darby (87) finished second.