Hilliard Davidson High School senior India Johnson completed her pursuit of a coveted state cross country title with a record-setting performance Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway.

Hilliard Davidson High School senior India Johnson completed her pursuit of a coveted state cross country title with a record-setting performance Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway.

Johnson finished first of 178 runners in the Division I girls race in a course-record 17 minutes, 28.6 seconds. Olentangy Orange's Allison Guagenti (17:35.8) was runner-up and Solon's Olivia Howell (17:37.6) placed third.

Johnson, a Michigan State recruit, was tied for second (5:28.5) with Guagenti behind Troy's Morgan Gigandet (5:28.3) after the first mile and had a narrow lead (11:21.3) ahead of Guagenti (11:21.7) and Gigandet (11:22.0) after the second mile before pulling away. Gigandet ended up finishing sixth (17:55.5).

"This means a lot," Johnson said. "It's been a weird process. I came here as a freshman and finished in the 100s and came here my sophomore year and was 31st and was able to be runner-up last year and was able to win it this year. I'm excited."

As a freshman, Johnson was the fifth Davidson runner to cross the finish line at state, finishing 111th (20:15.18) of 154 runners. As a sophomore, she was the third Davidson runner to cross the finish line, placing 31st (18:56.57) of 151 runners. Last season, she was state runner-up (17:43) behind Centerville's Lainey Studebaker (17:39), who held the previous course record.

Studebaker is running at Ohio State.

"I knew she was capable of this, but for a high school athlete to put it together when it matters is not an easy thing to do, so this is great," coach Nathan King said of Johnson. "The course record was a peripheral goal going into the day. No. 1 was to win and do what was necessary for that, and No. 2, really pour yourself into the race and see how fast you can run."

Johnson won the 3,200 meters in a program-record 10:29.8 in the state track and field meet last spring at Ohio State.

"I really enjoy cross country, just the aspect of it, the culture of it," Johnson said. "It means a lot that I've been able to grow in the sport and be able to get to where I am."

Davidson finished 14th (336 points) of 20 teams at state, behind champion Centerville (120).

Other runners for the Wildcats were sophomore Sophie Lewis (101st, 19:44.5), junior Shivani Raju (111th, 19:54.6), freshman Sydney Peterson (118th, 19:59.7), junior Meghan Sculli (134th, 20:15), sophomore Ellie Tighe (156th, 20:46.4) and senior Emma Schroeder (164th, 20:57.8).

Johnson won the regional meet Oct. 29 at Pickerington North, finishing first of 117 runners in 18:36.2.

Davidson qualified for state as a team by placing fourth (137) of 16 teams at regional, behind champion Gahanna (97).

The top five teams and top 20 individuals at regional advanced to state.

Led by Johnson, the Wildcats finished first (32) in the 14-team district 1 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial, ahead of runner-up Watkins Memorial (76). Johnson won the district title, finishing first of 94 runners in 17:55.5.

Davidson (31) won the OCC-Central Division meet Oct. 15 at Bradley, finishing ahead of Upper Arlington (60), Marysville (68), Dublin Coffman (81) and Central Crossing (148).

Johnson won the league title for the second time, finishing first of 49 runners in 19:15.27.

Boys runners finish ninth at state meet

The boys cross country team also competed in the Division I state meet, finishing ninth (283) of 20 teams, behind champion Solon (79).

Junior Andrew Tighe finished 35th (15:58) of 186 runners to lead the Wildcats.

Also competing for Davidson were senior Christopher Egolf (74th, 16:20.7), junior Andrew Taylor (90th, 16:28.6), sophomore Conner Johanssen (96th, 16:30.9), senior Reed Farmer (110th, 16:40.3) and sophomores Max LeClair (138th, 16:58.2) and Jack Altman (170th, 17:27.9).

"Most of these guys are back next year, so we're excited about that," coach Pat Schlecht said. "I knew I would be happy with a top 10 (finish). At best case, hopefully five to seven. We're in the range."

At regional, Davidson finished second (146) of 15 teams, behind champion Thomas Worthington (71), as Tighe placed eighth (16:18.41) of 117 runners to lead the Wildcats.

Davidson (74) won the 16-team district 2 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial, edging runner-up Lancaster (81).

Tighe placed sixth (15:55.44) of 113 runners to lead the Wildcats.

Davidson (29) won the league meet Oct. 15 at Bradley, finishing ahead of Coffman (36), Central Crossing (80), Marysville (86), UA (130) and Westland (187).

Tighe led the Wildcats, placing second of 55 runners in 16:29.55.

"It was a great season," Schlecht said. "League and district titles, regional runner-up and then to make it to state and run confident and just enjoy this process. These kids love the experience."

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