Hilliard Davidson High School boys cross country coach Pat Schlecht plans out his team's regular-season schedule with an eye on the postseason.
Schlecht again opted for his team to undergo rigorous training during the regular season rather than have a schedule loaded with meets. He believes the training will help his runners reach their full potential in the postseason.
The Wildcats' ultimate goal is a return trip to the Division I state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway. Last season, they placed second (143 points) at state behind Hudson (73).
"We have a very patient outlook on what we're trying to do," Schlecht said. "We're developing very nicely. Without having a race, we have to rely on some other benchmarks and they're exceeding what I thought. ... We want to contend for a state title. Last year is what's driving us and that's why we're patient and waiting."
Davidson split its team Sept. 29, with some runners competing in the Buck Creek Invitational in Springfield and others running in the Cambridge Invitational.
The Wildcats won the 27-team Buck Creek Invitational, scoring 72 points to edge runner-up Springfield Shawnee (79).
Conner Johanssen finished first of 424 runners in 15 minutes, 58.3 seconds.
"I'm really happy with how I'm doing personally and how the team is doing," Johanssen said. "It's shaping up to be a good year so far."
Max LeClair placed third (16:18.6) in the Buck Creek Invitational, followed by Alex Hudson (15th, 17:00.9), Colin Buckley (23rd, 17:22.7), Nate Gilbert (34th, 17:42.7) and R.J. Sagrilla (42nd, 17:58.2).
Davidson finished second (56) in the 10-team Cambridge Invitational behind Wheeling (West Virginia) Park (40).
Jack Altman was third of 142 runners in 17:08.4 to lead the Wildcats. Xavier Gallo was 10th (17:50.3), followed by Nick Sauvey (12th, 18:01.4), Mitchell Montgomery (15th, 18:21.1) and Brian Stroh (16th, 18:23.9).
"We split the team up equally, so we had two equals teams," Schlecht said. "We're very deep, so that's really exciting. We're watching the young guys improve dramatically."
The Wildcats will play host to the OCC-Central Division meet Oct. 13, another event they consider a warmup for the district, regional and state competition.
"We're trying to do everything we can to get that state title that has eluded us since our freshmen year," Johanssen said.
Girls runners also eyeing postseason
The girls cross country team also is gearing up for what it hopes is a state title run.
"We're done with our big regular-season meets," coach Nate King said. "From the varsity perspective, we're just going to work, focusing on the postseason, trying to refine and tweak some things and gear the training around championship season."
Lindsay Stull and Sophie Lewis have emerged as the team's top runners, with solid contributions from others.
Stull turned in the third-fastest time in program history when she placed ninth (18:04.6) of 245 runners in the Saturday Night Lights meet Sept. 22 at Centerville. Graduates India Johnson (17:09) and Jessica Hoover (18:02) hold the top times.
Stull's effort also is the sophomore program-record.
Lewis finished 14th (18:08.6) in the meet, followed by Sydney Petersen (38th, 18:52.6), Sophia Hoersten (43rd, 19:00.8) and Ellie Tighe (47th, 19:04.3).
Davidson finished third (139) of 28 teams, behind champion Beavercreek (120).
"I like how our pack is really close together and we're able to train together," Petersen said. "I like having our top seven, eight, nine all able to train at the same level."
Golfers compete at sectional
The boys and girls golf teams opened the postseason by competing in Division I sectionals Oct. 2.
The boys team competed in a 14-team sectional at Denison Golf Club, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
The girls team competed in an 11-team sectional at Royal American, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
From both district tournaments, the top two teams and two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to their respective state tournaments Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State.
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 6 -- Grove City Invitational at Hickory Hills
Oct. 4 -- At Pickerington North
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Marysville
Oct. 4 -- At New Albany
*Oct. 9 -- At Marysville
Oct. 4, 6 -- Division I sectional at Bradley. Top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 11 and 13 Reynoldsburg.
*Oct. 4 -- At Central Crossing. The Wildcats defeated the Comets 25-23, 24-26, 25-16, 25-16 on Sept. 13.
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Westland. The Wildcats defeated the Cougars 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 on Sept. 20.