The Hilliard Davidson girls cross country team enters each season expecting to land a spot in the Division I state meet at National Trail Raceway.
With the Wildcats having several key runners back, this year appears to be no different.
Davidson is off to another good start, highlighted by junior Lindsay Stull setting a home course record in winning the Hot Summer Bash on Aug. 31 in 17 minutes, 59.3 seconds.
Davidson finished first (35 points) of nine teams, ahead of runner-up Massillon Jackson (58).
"The course and weather were great and we had a great couple weeks of training under our belt since our last race," Stull said. "It was our team's goal to just go out and run hard for each other."
Stull led the Wildcats last season at state, finishing ninth of 176 runners in 18:39.7 to earn all-state honors. The Wildcats finished seventh (229) behind champion Beavercreek (118).
Senior Sophia Hoersten, who missed the track and field postseason last spring with a right shin injury, also returns. She was fourth (18:44.8) in the Hot Summer Bash.
"We have a couple of mantras that our team sticks with," Hoersten said. "We think about always doing the little things, so that means always staying on top of getting enough iron and getting enough sleep. Those are key things that we focus on aside from just training."
Freshman Keagan Gehring was ninth (19:26.5) in the Hot Summer Bash, followed by senior Sydney Petersen (10th, 19:31.1) and juniors Justine Smith (11th, 20:03.1) and Calla Edmonds (12th, 20:12.4).
Davidson was ranked fifth in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches preseason state poll behind No. 1 Beavercreek.
"The girls are doing really well," eighth-year coach Nate King said. "They're healthy. We really pay a lot of attention to health and to be smart and back off when we need to. We knew we were losing (2019 graduates) Ellie (Tighe) and Sophie (Lewis), who were longtime varsity scorers, so that was the challenge coming into the season, that we knew we'd have that obstacle. We've had some really great step-ups."
Boys runners maintain same goals
Although the boys cross country team lost its top two state competitors from last season to graduation, the expectations remain the same.
Davidson is looking for a return trip to the Division I state meet after finishing second (153) last season behind Hudson (107).
Gone are 2019 graduates Conner Johanssen, who placed eighth (16:16.2) of 186 runners, and Max LeClair, who was 29th (16:44.4). The top 30 finishers earned all-state honors.
Davidson was third in the OATCCC preseason state poll behind top-ranked Mason.
"We have a very deep team this season," 23rd-year coach Pat Schlecht said. "We should have one of our best compressions from one to seven. Our goal is to have our top seven runners within 20 seconds of each other. This team has already made giant strides in their development and have their eyes set on the state (meet). If things fall into place, we should have a chance at a top-five finish (at state)."
The Wildcats finished fifth (114) of 11 teams in the Hot Summer Bash behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (58).
Sophomore Alex Hudson, who has emerged as the team's No. 1 runner, was 13th of 94 runners in 16:30.5.
Freshman Conner Ackley was 15th (16:32.5), followed by junior Nate Gilbert (24th, 16:46.1), sophomore Nick Puhl (29th, 16:54), senior Xavier Gallo (33rd, 17:02.2) and junior Noah Pease (39th, 17:06.2).
Also expected to contribute are seniors Colin Buckley, Nick DeSilva, Mitchell Messer and Mitchell Montgomery and junior R.J. Sagrilla.
"We still have a lot of good pieces and we'll still be able to compete with the best teams in Ohio," Montgomery said. "Our training hasn't let us down before, so I think we're going to have a good year."
Golf teams vying in league tourneys
The golf teams are winding down play in their respective OCC-Central Division tournaments.
The boys finished third (346) in the third round Aug. 28 at Apple Valley behind first-place Coffman (321).
Zach Burton led the Wildcats with an 80, followed by Zach Welch (85), Matt Jackson (90) and Cam Colman (91).
Davidson is third (9-6) in the league standings behind first-place Upper Arlington (14-1) heading into the final round Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Darby Creek.
The girls finished fifth (398) in the third round Aug. 28 at Mentel Memorial behind first-place New Albany (294).
Kacy Harsh led the Wildcats with an 88, followed by Ainsley Guthrie (99).
Davidson was fifth (2-13) in the league behind first-place New Albany (15-0) entering the final round Sept. 4 at Blacklick Woods.
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- Grove City Invitational at Hickory Hills
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Central at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 5 -- Olentangy Orange at Blackhawk
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Wellington
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Sept. 5 -- At Pickerington North
*Sept. 10 -- At Coffman
*Sept. 5 -- At Marysville
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 10 -- At Darby
Sept. 11 -- Ay Pickerington Central
*Sept. 5 -- At Upper Arlington
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Big Walnut, Gahanna and Thomas
*Sept. 10 -- At Central Crossing