Hilliard Davidson High School girls cross country coach Nate King considers the season to be a process leading to the Division I state meet.
The Wildcats have their sights set on competing at state Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway after placing sixth there last season.
"That's what's pretty cool about the program. They've had successful girls ahead of them to look up to and to learn to think big and dream big," said King, who is in his seventh season. "This team has some lofty goals and we have a good amount of talent, so our goal is to stay committed to our goals during the difficult months of August and September when it's hot.
"It's consistency and training and thinking big and focusing on the end, same as always."
Davidson returns four state competitors, led by sophomore Lindsay Stull, who is competing for the team's No. 1 spot. Last season, she finished 30th (18 minutes, 37.5 seconds) of 173 runners at state.
Also back are seniors Sophie Lewis (25th, 18:33.5) and Ellie Tighe (54th, 19:11.5) and junior Sydney Petersen (75th, 19:32.8).
"We could have an interchangeable (No. 1 runner)," King said. "It could be Lindsay, it could be Sophie. Sophie is right there. Then our next three are pretty interchangeable."
Juniors Sophia Hoersten and Riley Ries and sophomores Sofia Bishoff , Elise Byard, Bella Manken and Justine Smith also should contribute.
"The team chemistry so far this year has been great and we have some really high goals and expectations, but with this team and mindset, hopefully we can achieve some of them," Lewis said.
The Wildcats opened Aug. 18 by finishing second (110 points) of 22 teams in the OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway, behind Liberty Township Lakota East (66).
Stull placed fourth (19:16) of 195 runners, followed by Lewis (11th, 19:42.6), Petersen (18th, 19:58.1) and Hoersten (19th, 19:59.4).
Davidson scored 30 points to win the 11-team Hot Summer Bash on Sept. 1 at home, well ahead of runner-up Springboro (83).
Stull placed second (18:55.17) of 88 runners, followed by Lewis (fourth, 19:11.28), Hoersten (fifth, 19:21.32) and Tighe (ninth, 19:33.39).
"Every year we try to be just a little bit better than we were the year before, and this year is no different," Tighe said. "Obviously, we've lost some talented runners, but we've tried to not only fill the gaps but become a better team than we were last year and in previous years."
Davidson also is looking to defend its OCC-Central Division title after finishing first (22) last year, ahead of runner-up Upper Arlington (53).
The Wildcats lost two state runners from a year ago in 2018 graduates Meghan Sculli (90th, 19:47.9) and Lauren Alsko (101st, 20:00.4).
Boys runners also seek return to state
The boys cross country team also is expecting another strong performance in the Division I state meet this season after placing second (143) a year ago behind Hudson (73).
"We had a sour taste in our mouth last year getting state runner-up to Hudson," 22nd-year coach Pat Schlecht said. "Both of us have a good majority of our guys back. (The boys are) working really hard, transitioned off track into a good summer. We're going to be patient, we're waiting for the state meet. Everything right now is about getting ready for the state meet. That's where our priority is."
Among the returnees is senior Max LeClair, who finished 22nd (16:03.2) at state last year. Also back after competing at state are seniors Conner Johanssen (37th, 16:14) and Jack Altman (73rd, 16:41.4), sophomore Mitchell Montgomery (139th, 17:19.1) and senior Nick Sauvey (154th, 17:26.1).
Schlecht said Johanssen has been the team's top runner thus far this season.
"We had a great improvement from Conner," Schlecht said. "After a really good track season, his summer was awesome. I think he's going to be in the top handful at the state meet. We have a nice one-two punch with Conner and Max LeClair."
Juniors Xavier Gallo and Mitchell Messer also should contribute.
The Wildcats won the 14-team Hot Summer Bash, finishing first (65) ahead of runner-up Gahanna (96).
Johanssen was second (15:43.89) of 88 runners, followed by LeClair (10th, 16:33.1) and Sauvey (14th, 16:43.06).
Davidson opened the season by winning the OHSAA Preseason Invitational, finishing first (141) ahead of runner-up Ashland (152).
Johanssen placed third (16:12.7) of 280 runners, followed by LeClair (20th, 16:56.5), Gallo (30th, 17:10.9) and Sauvey (38th, 17:21.2).
Last season, the Wildcats won the OCC-Central title, scoring 24 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (60).
"That's the first time we have a race that's kind of focused," Schlecht said of the league meet. "The OCC is the first time we go into it with a different mindset. Physically, we're nowhere near ready. The kids run for the tradition and each other."
Davidson lost two key runners from last season in 2018 graduates Andrew Tighe and Andrew Taylor, who placed 21st (16:02.9) and 89th (16:46.3) at state last fall.
Golf teams prep for final OCC round
The boys and girls golf teams will compete in the final round of their respective OCC-Central tournaments Wednesday, Sept. 12.
The boys team, which will close league action at Darby Creek, finished third (329) in the third round Aug. 29 at Apple Valley behind first-place Upper Arlington (313).
Zach Burton led the Wildcats with a 77, followed by Cole Kazmerzak (82) and Jacob Drees (84).
Davidson won the 46th annual Kent Miller Invitational on Aug. 17 at Hiawatha, finishing with a program-record 289.
Kazmerzak and Caleb Stimmel shared medalist honors with a 70.
The girls team, which will conclude league action at Westchester, finished fourth (358) in the third round Aug. 29 at Mentel Memorial behind first-place New Albany (292).
Amelia Lee shot a 79, followed by Eleni Monroe with an 88.
Aug. 18 -- OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway
Sept. 2 -- Hot Summer Bash at home
Sept. 8 -- Boys: Red, White and Blue Classic in Pittsburgh
Sept. 14 -- Girls: Michigan State Invitational in East Lansing
Sept. 15 -- Boys: Highbanks Run at Highbanks Metro Park
Sept. 22 -- Girls: Saturday Night Lights at Centerville
Sept. 29 -- Boys: Buck Creek Invitational and Cambridge Invitational
Oct. 6 -- Boys: Portage (Mich.) Invitational; Girls: Darby Dash
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Central meet at home
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek
Sept. 10 -- Thomas Worthington at The Ridge Golf & Gardens
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Westchester
Sept. 6 -- At New Albany
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Marysville
Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Bradley