Hilliard Davidson High School girls cross country coach Nathan King believes his runners got a feel for what the competition in the Division I regional meet will be like by participating in the Central Ohio Invitational on Sept. 14 at Three Creeks Metro Park.
The Wildcats scored 97 points to finish third in the meet's 16-team, large-school race behind Upper Arlington (35) and Gahanna (59). Dublin Scioto (119) and Westerville Central (173) rounded out the top five, with Bradley (181) and Darby (277) placing sixth and 10th, respectively.
The regional meet will be held Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
"I think the top three teams in the region were there and we finished third," King said. "Upper Arlington and Gahanna are very solid, and they finished ahead of us. Plus, Olentangy Liberty and Thomas Worthington are very good and they weren't there."
Lilly Saniel-Banrey led the Wildcats, placing fifth (18 minutes, 37.04 seconds) of 112 runners.
"I'm running well ahead of my pace from last year because I've been training for much better times," Saniel-Banrey sad. "I'm five seconds off my (personal record) I set in the (OCC-Central Division meet) last year at Darby, and we're only about halfway through the season. We're training to peak at regional."
Also scoring for the Wildcats were Jane Onders (10th, 19:35.13), Catherine Hildebrand (26th, 20:17.47), Lindsey Ruff (27th, 20:20.02) and Jane Haines (29th, 20:24.17).
"We're not all that pleased with third place, but I hope it'll show the girls that they need to keep working hard and training," King said. "We need to stay focused, execute the race plan and have confidence in the plan and in our training. We need to bridge the gap between (the) No. 1 and 2 (runners) and really need someone to move up from the rest of our pack to close the gap between 2 and (Nos.) 3 to 6.
"To reconnect with our goals, we have to train hard these last five weeks and be confident with the things we are doing, believe and trust. Lilly is the only one who has been very aggressive, determined and confident. The rest of the girls have to attack their races and training like she has done."
Bradley was led by Tes Corea, who placed 11th (19:35.34). Rounding out the Jaguars' scoring were Sarah Hevener (25th, 20:16.13). Eliza Alpeter (43rd, 20:45.91), Elaina Alpeter (44th, 20:46.12) and Clairmar Segarra-Ibanez (58th, 21:28.42).
Emily Melnik finished 31st (20:25.35) to lead Darby, with Sarah Vermillion (34th, 20:27.13), Dani Deshuk (50th, 21:05.13), Denise Dye (78th, 21:59.55) and Alyssa Cannon (84th, 22:15.24) also scoring.
Darby, Davidson boys turn in good showings
The Darby boys team placed second (72) in the 14-team, large-school race of the Central Ohio Invitational, just two points behind Dublin Coffman (70) and well ahead of third-place Olentangy Orange (117).
Chase Hampton led the Panthers, placing second (16:14.36) of 99 runners, and Danny Reynolds placed third (16:25.83). Coffman's Zach Bons won the race in 16:03.54.
"It was my best time this year and it was only half of a second off my (personal record)," Hampton said. "Overall, we had four guys under 17 (minutes), so we're right on pace where we want to be. We're showing progression toward our ultimate goal of getting to state as a team.
"We're very happy with the team finish. Coffman is a good team in this region, so this is a confidence booster for us."
Also scoring for the Panthers were Spencer Strohm (15th, 16:54), Dylan Stephens (17th, 16:58.29) and Gage Akers (35th, 17:19.33).
Davidson and Bradley both competed in the Galion Festival on Sept. 14.
The Wildcats won the 33-team Division I race, scoring 94 points to finish well ahead of runner-up New Albany (127), and the Jaguars finished 25th (669).
Colin Burdette paced Davidson, placing second (15:32.8) of 227 runners as Cleveland St. Ignatius' Luke Wagner (15:31.1) won. Garrett Knapik was next for the Wildcats, finishing 10th (15:47.1), followed by Johnny McKeown (17th, 16:05.5), Luke Hoover (22nd, 16:09.7) and Ryan Whitney (43rd, 16:29.2).
Eric McCabe led Bradley, finishing fifth (15:41.1). Also scoring for the Jaguars were Ryan Gross (113, 17:27.4), Darian Sorenson (129th, 17:44.1), Gunar Stover (201st, 19:43.5) and Kyle Jurstad (221st, 23:17.9).