Hilliard Davidson High School girls track and field coach Matt Beatty and his athletes are trying to build on the legacy of distance runner India Johnson.
Johnson, a 2017 graduate who is running at Michigan State, capped her prep career by defending her Division I state title in the 3,200 meters (10 minutes, 23.84 seconds) last season. She holds the program records in the 3,200 (10:23.84) and 1,600 (4:52.24) and won regional, district and OCC-Central Division titles in both events a year ago.
"We move on and we hope that she was able to get the culture where we need it to be," said Beatty, who is in his 13th season.
"We don't view (not having Johnson) as a loss. We use it as motivation," senior distance runner Meghan Sculli said. "She helped build our program up and we just want to keep that going."
Also back in the distance events are juniors Sophie Lewis and Ellie Tighe and sophomore Sydney Petersen. The three teamed with Johnson last season to finish seventh at state in the 3,200 relay (9:12.33).
Other key returnees include seniors Analeis Cofield (high jump), Kristina Hoefler (400, relays) and Sidney Tekancic (long jump), juniors Lydia Baumgartner (sprints), Maddy Bennett (hurdles), Emilee Fecht (throws), Lillian Gardner (pole vault, sprints), Klaire Kazmerzak (sprints), Alyssa Markarian (sprints, 400) and Sydney Ryan (sprints, long jump, relays) and sophomore Sarah Shevelow (discus).
Beatty also expects freshman Lindsay Stull (1,600) to be a key contributor.
Davidson opened March 31 at home by finishing second (117 points) in the 11-team Wildcat Premier, behind Gahanna (134).
Sculli won the 800 (2:21.8), and freshmen Elise Byard, Justine Smith, Sofia Bishoff and Stull finished first in the 6,400 relay (22:45.91).
The Wildcats finished second (103) in the eight-team Panther Invitational on April 6, behind host Darby (136).
Lewis, senior Lauren Alsko, Stull and freshman Vivian Smith won the distance medley relay (13:29.41) and Byard, Justine Smith, Petersen and Tighe finished first in the 3,200 relay (10:16.25).
"Our team is looking as good as I've ever seen it," Sculli said. "It's still early and we have had a lot of weather issues, but everything is going to start coming together really soon."
Davidson is looking to defend its OCC-Central title after finishing first (156 points) in last year's league meet ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (146.5).
"We just have to keep moving forward understanding everybody's role and how they can get as much as they can out of each day, be the best version of themselves so we can be competitive," Beatty said.
Boys track team returns solid nucleus
Boys track and field coach Jim Smith is optimistic about the season.
"We have a good, young group of kids," said Smith, who is in his 31st season. "We started out with 124 (boys) and we have a solid 88 to 90 right now. It just depends on who's hurt and who's not."
Davidson opened by finishing third (95) in the 11-team Wildcat Premier behind champion Gahanna (109), as junior Isaac Bailey won the long jump (19 feet, 7 inches) and junior Conner Johanssen, senior Andrew Taylor, junior Max LeClair and senior Andrew Tighe won the 6,400 relay (18:22.1).
The Wildcats then won the eight-team Panther Invitational, scoring 126 points to finish well ahead of runner-up and host Darby (89).
Finishing first were Taylor in the 1,600 (4:47.83), LeClair in the 3,200 (9:55.03), Tighe, Taylor, junior Jacob Bauer and Johanssen in the distance medley relay (11:10.03), Tighe, LeClair, junior Nick Sauvey and sophomore Mitchell Messer in the 3,200 relay (8:31.64) and sophomore Joshua Burton, freshman Rafael Gonzalez, LeClair and Tighe in the 1,600 relay (3:37.47).
Other key returnees include seniors Sam Backenstoe (throws) and Collin Danyi (sprints, long jump), juniors Josiah Ezirim (throws), James Keen (pole vault, sprints, hurdles) and Cal Ryan (throws) and sophomore Gage Keys (throws).
Bailey also is competing in the sprints.
"The strength of us this year is the distance corps," Smith said. "They did a great job in cross country and indoor and it's just continued to the outdoor. They're the top group that we have."
Elliott to lead boys tennis team
Senior Noah Elliott of the boys tennis team will be looking to earn his first Division I state tournament berth later this season.
Elliott, who is playing first singles, came within one win of qualifying for state last season in doubles, as he and 2017 graduate Chris Codogni went 1-1 at district.
Elliott is expected to play singles in the postseason this year.
"Noah has gotten better," seventh-year coach Steve De Dent said. "He's gotten physically bigger, which is definitely going to be a benefit. He's really upped his game by playing a lot of matches over the summer against adults, so he's gotten stronger."
Also back are junior Ethan Clark at second singles, sophomore Jack Kamnikar at third singles and senior Justin Wingenfield, who is teaming with senior Ryan Woodford at first doubles.
Junior Uday Patel and sophomore Timothy Liou have started the season at second doubles.
Also on the team are junior Collin Lam and sophomore Yuto Nagase.
The Wildcats were 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Upper Arlington on April 10. Their match against Bradley on April 9 was postponed because of bad weather.
Davidson opened April 2 with a 4-1 win over Darby before losing 4-1 to Coffman on April 5 and 5-0 to Olentangy Orange on April 6.
Last season, the Wildcats finished 7-9 overall went 2-2 in the OCC-Central to finish third behind champion UA (4-0).
Seven players return for volleyball team
The boys volleyball team returns seven players from last season, when the Wildcats finished 16-8 overall and won the OCC-Ohio title.
Leading the returnees is senior middle blocker D'Angelo Boehner, who had 148 kills and 49 blocks last season and was named league Player of the Year and first-team all-region in Division I.
Also back are seniors Ataa Carroll (opposite hitter), Nathan Cassell (outside hitter), Owen Fetty (setter), Cole McCandless (defensive specialist), Luke Petersen (defensive special-ist/libero) and Brendon Yoder (middle blocker).
Last season, Cassell had 118 kills and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region and Fetty had 289 assists.
Rounding out the team are seniors Bryce Efaw (middle blocker), Hari Khalsa (middle blocker) and C.J. Uttley (opposite hitter) and sophomores Sean Hall (defensive specialist), Jackson Lightfoot (outside hitter) and Armand Sherzai (setter).
"With a veteran group of returning letterman and seniors, we have some big team goals," fourth-year coach Rusty Herring said. "It is early in our season and we are still figuring out how to trust each other and be our best. One of our team goals is to compete for the OCC league title."
Davidson, which was 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington North on April 10, defeated Coffman 25-14, 25-19, 25-23 on April 9.
The Wildcats, who defeated league newcomer Reynoldsburg 25-7, 25-12, 25-11 on April 3, finished 10-0 in the OCC-Ohio last season as Gahanna and Pickerington North tied for second at 6-4.
April 2 -- at Hilliard Darby
*April 5 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
April 9 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*April 10 -- vs. Upper Arlington
April 11 -- at Lancaster
*April 12 -- at Central Crossing
April 16 -- at St. Charles
April 18 -- at Olentangy
*April 19 -- at Marysville
April 21 -- Davidson Doubles Classic
April 23 -- at Chillicothe
April 24 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
April 25 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 30 -- vs. Gahanna
May 1 -- at Pickerington North
May 2 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
May 7 -- at New Albany
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at home
April 6 -- Panther Invitational at Darby
April 10 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
April 14 -- Dublin Classic at Dublin Coffman
April 17 -- at Dublin Coffman
April 20 -- Freedom Relays at Olentangy Liberty
April 24 -- at Westerville Central
April 27 -- at Marion Harding Night Invitational
May 1 -- Hilliard Invitational at home
May 8, 11 -- OCC-Central meet at Dublin Coffman
March 29 -- at Darby
March 30 -- vs. Olentangy
*April 3 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 5 -- vs. Pickerington Central
April 6 -- at Clayton Northmont with Middletown Fenwick
*April 9 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 10 -- vs. Pickerington North
*April 12 -- at Upper Arlington
April 14 -- Spike for Tykes at Hiram College
*April 17 -- vs. Gahanna
April 20 -- vs. Beavercreek
*April 23 -- at Reynoldsburg
*April 24 -- at Pickerington Central
*April 26 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
April 28 -- Centerville Elite Tournament
*May 1 -- at Pickerington North
*May 3 -- vs. Upper Arlington
*May 8 -- at Gahanna
May 10 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
May 11 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and softball teams:
*April 13 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
April 14 -- Home vs. Westerville North (DH)
*April 16 -- Home vs. Westland
April 17 -- At Bradley
*April 18 -- At Westland
*April 12 -- At Pickerington Central
April 13 -- At Olentangy Orange
April 16 -- At Dublin Jerome
*April 17 -- At Pickerington North
*April 12 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*April 17 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*April 12 -- At Upper Arlington
April 14 -- Home vs. Newark and Westerville Central
*April 16 -- At Central Crossing
April 17 -- At Westerville South
*April 18 -- Home vs. Westland