Longtime Hilliard Davidson High School boys track and field coach Jim Smith is looking forward to the challenge of grooming his team this season.

"We're young, inexperienced and we just need to keep plugging along and work hard in practice and get what we can out of the meets," said Smith, who is in his 30th season. "We're just trying to find some depth and some experience."

Video •Davidson girls track athlete Sienna Sullivan competes in the shot put during the Panther invitational on April 7 at Hilliard Darby.

The Wildcats have returned some experienced athletes, including senior Michael Seidle in the sprints, senior Ian Cook in the middle-distance events and senior Matthew Johns in the pole vault and high jump.

The inexperience is evident in the sprints, according to Smith, who expects freshman Joshua Burton to be one of the top performers.

Other key contributors should be juniors Nonso Uba (throws) and Andrew Tighe (distance) and sophomores Josiah Ezirim (throws), James Keen (pole vault, hurdles), Max LeClair (distance), Cal Ryan (throws) and Adam Upperman (discus).

Ryan and Tighe are first-year track athletes.

"Our throwers are doing great and those guys are all young," Smith said. "I have a solid throwing group in the shot (put) and discus."

Keen, who is in his second season competing in the pole vault, established a personal best of 12 feet, 6 inches while finishing second in the Panther Invitational on April 7 at Darby.

"I never did pole vault before high school," Keen said. "Last year I thought it looked really cool and I wanted to try it. I tried it and became pretty good at it."

Davidson opened the season by playing host to the Wildcat Premier on April 1. The Wildcats scored 86 points to finish second behind Pickerington North (130) as 14 teams scored.

Davidson finished third (76) in the nine-team Panther Invitational on April 7 behind host Darby (138) and Bradley (80).

In the Panther Invitational, Cook, Farmer, LeClair and freshman Mitchell Messer won the 3,200-meter relay in 8 minutes, 31.2 seconds.

Finishing second were Burton in the 400 (52.19) and Tighe in the 1,600 (4:37.21).

Davidson had just one Division I state qualifier last season in 2016 graduate Jacob Ross, who finished third in the high jump (6-7) and 10th in the long jump (21-9 1/4).

The Wildcats finished third (114 points) in the OCC-Central Division meet a year ago behind champion Marysville (161).

Olentangy Liberty and Thomas Worthington are no longer in the OCC-Central, but Smith still expects the league to be solid.

"Our division is still tough, especially when I don't have sprinters like we normally have, but they're getting better," Smith said. "The conference meet will be tough. Dublin Coffman is always tough. With the lack of depth and experience, it's going to be a rough one."

Johnson back to
lead girls track team

Senior distance runner India Johnson again is expected to lead the girls track and field team.

Last season in the Division I state meet, Johnson won the 3,200 in a program-record 10:29.8. She also qualified for state in the 1,600 but opted to focus on the 3,200, and was on the fifth-place 3,200 relay (9:15.2) with 2016 graduates Iman Batiste and Jane Onders and junior Meghan Sculli.

Johnson, who has committed to compete at Michigan State, won the 3,200 (10:40.79) and placed third in the 1,600 (5:00.73) in the indoor state meet March 4 at the University of Akron.

"It will be interesting (to see) how everything progresses," 12th-year coach Matt Beatty said. "Obviously, when you have India, you always have a shot. India Johnson is the real deal. She's a great kid and she's pretty talented."

Davidson finished third (86) in the nine-team Panther Invitational behind host Darby (135) and Liberty (127).

Johnson, Sculli and juniors Kristina Hoefler and Emily Osselborn won the distance medley relay (13:14.56) and Johnson, senior Emily Clark and sophomores Sophie Lewis and Ellie Tighe won the 3,200 relay (9:43.05).

Johnson was second in the 800 (2:22.91).

Also finishing second were senior Sienna Sullivan in the discus (93-6), Hoefler in the 400 (1:02.37) and Johnson, Hoefler, Sculli and freshman Sydney Peterson in the 1,600 relay (4:09.19).

"We definitely have some younger freshman and sophomores stepping up into their roles, so I think we're better than ever," Sculli said.

Davidson opened the season by finishing third (87) in the Wildcat Premier at home behind Gahanna (151) and Coffman (105) as 14 teams scored.

Beatty said other key contributors should be seniors Sam Schonhardt (sprints), Sarah Teater (pole vault) and Gwen Winer (jumps) and sophomores Lydia Baumgartner (sprints), Emilee Fecht (throws) and Klaire Kazmerzak (sprints).

Last season, Davidson finished third (123) in the OCC-Central meet behind Liberty (147) and Coffman (137). With Liberty now in the OCC-Buckeye, Beatty expects Coffman to be the team to beat.

"It's a very tough league, especially with Coffman," Beatty said. "(Coffman's Abby) Steiner had that (knee) surgery and she is already back. She's such a great kid. You can't dislike how nice she is. ... I'm hoping we can contend."

Steiner, who had ACL surgery in the fall, won the 100 and 200 and anchored the winning 800 relay at state last season.

Girls lacrosse team
has new look

The girls lacrosse team entered the season with a new look as fourth-year coach Chad Smock had to replace eight starters lost to graduation.

The Wildcats were 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Gahanna on April 11.

Davidson defeated Westerville South 14-2 on April 3 and Chillicothe 13-12 on April 10. Its league loss came against Coffman, 14-6 on April 6.

The Wildcats are led by senior midfielder Lauren Wehner, who has committed to play for the University of Hartford and had 20 goals through six games. She scored five goals against Chillicothe.

Junior Rachel Ruland has replaced 2016 graduate Izzy Shaw at goalkeeper.

Other returnees are seniors Maggie Clifford (attacker), Hanna Morris (midfielder), Maddie Pelle (defender) and Alexis Vaughn (defender), juniors Kelley Blevins (midfielder), Juliana Burdette (defender), McKenna Cowman (attacker), Mychael Lutz (midfielder) and Paige Martin (midfielder) and sophomores Quinn Kazmerzak (attacker) and Nora Van Vleet (defender).

Also on the team are seniors Lauren McHenry (attacker) and Shayree McCoy (attacker), juniors Maya Fisher (defender), Cera Grieble (defender) and Kelsey Rader (attacker), sophomores Audrey Clifford (midfielder) and Taylor Hsu-King (attacker) and freshmen Taylor Monturo (goalie) and Sally Sell (midfielder).

"This team is a lot fun," Smock said. "We lost a lot from our senior class last year. I have a lot of talent on his team and I think we're deeper than we were last year, but they have huge shoes to fill from last season. It's a huge transition year."

Last season, the Wildcats finished 9-9 overall and went 0-4 in the OCC-Central.

Boys volleyball team
out to strong start

The boys volleyball team is out to a strong start, as it improved to 5-1 overall with a 25-5, 25-12, 25-12 win over Chillicothe on April 10 and was 2-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Upper Arlington on April 11.

"We're very happy with the start to the season," third-year coach Rusty Herring said. "Coaching the guys for me is a joy. I love sports."

Davidson's loss came against Beavercreek, 25-23, 25-11, 25-23 on March 31.

The Wildcats opened league play with wins over Coffman (25-15, 25-18, 25-11 on April 4) and Pickerington Central (25-20, 25-19, 25-19 on April 6).

Leading the returnees are junior middle blocker D'Angelo Boehner, who was named special mention all-league last season, and senior defensive specialist/libero Alex Peterson, who was honorable mention all-league.

Also back are seniors Cory Dixon (middle blocker), Justin English (outside hitter), Jacob Federle (outside hitter) and Spencer Lydon (opposite hitter, middle blocker).

Other players are senior Mo Rasul (setter), juniors Ataa Carroll (opposite hitter), Nathan Cassell (outside hitter), Owen Fetty (setter, opposite hitter), Cole McCandless (defensive specialist) and Luke Petersen (defensive specialist).

"We want to improve and we want to have fun. Those are our top goals," said Herring, whose team defeated Bradley 25-15, 25-23, 25-21 on March 27. "We want to be competitive and we want to compete for the league title. We want to be a regional finalist and see what happens that night in hopes to getting to the state tournament."

Last season, Davidson finished 13-12 overall and went 7-3 in the OCC-Ohio to finish second behind Darby (10-0), which is now in the OCC-Cardinal. The Wildcats lost in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament.

Davidson is not scheduled to play Darby this season.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

GIRLS LACROSSE

March 30 -- at Columbus School for Girls

April 1 -- at Liberty Township Lakota East and West Chester Township Lakota West

April 3 -- at Westerville South

*April 6 -- at Dublin Coffman

April 10 -- vs. Chillicothe

*April 11 -- vs. Gahanna

*April 13 -- at Pickerington Central

*April 18 -- at Pickerington North

April 20 -- at Darby

*April 24 -- vs. Upper Arlington

April 27 -- at Bexley

*May 2 -- vs. Marysville

May 4 -- vs. Westerville North

May 11 -- at Bradley

TRACK & FIELD

April 1 -- Wildcat Premier at Davidson

April 4 -- Debbie Merriman-King Wildcat Relays at Westerville South

April 7 -- Panther Invitational at Darby

April 11 -- at Central Crossing with Grandview

April 15 -- Dublin Classic at Dublin Coffman

April 18 -- at Dublin Coffman

April 21 -- Freedom Relays at Olentangy Liberty

April 25 -- vs. Upper Arlington and Westerville Central

April 27-28 -- Huber Heights Wayne Invitational

May 2 -- at Darby with Bradley

May 11, 13 -- OCC-Central meet at Dublin Coffman

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

March 27 -- vs. Bradley

March 30 -- vs. St. Charles

March 31 -- at Beavercreek

*April 4 -- at Dublin Coffman

*April 6 -- vs. Pickerington Central

April 10 -- vs. Chillicothe

*April 11 -- at Upper Arlington

*April 13 -- vs. Pickerington North

*April 18 -- at Gahanna

*April 20 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

*April 25 -- at Pickerington Central

*April 27 -- vs. Upper Arlington

April 28 -- vs. Mount Vernon and Clayton Northmont

*May 2 -- at Pickerington North

*May 4 -- vs. Gahanna

May 5 -- Spike for Tykes Tournament at Greater Columbus Convention Center

May 9 -- vs. DeSales

May 11 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson baseball, boys lacrosse and softball teams:

BASEBALL

April 14 -- Home vs. Darby

April 15 -- At Olentangy

*April 17 -- At Westland

*April 18 -- At Dublin Coffman

*April 19 -- Home vs. Westland

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 13 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central

*April 17 -- Home vs. Pickerington North

SOFTBALL

*April 13 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

April 14 -- Williamsport Westfall and Wellston in Valley of Thunder Tournament at Willow Wood Symmes Valley

April 15 -- Symmes Valley and Jackson in Valley of Thunder Tournament

*April 17 -- Home vs. Central Crossing

*April 19 -- At Westland

*League contest