The Hilliard Davidson girls cross country team dominated the competition in the Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North, but coach Nate King believes the Wildcats can perform even better.
Davidson cruised to the regional title, scoring 36 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Thomas Worthington (149) in the 17-team meet.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
"We're pleased," King said. "We have some minor adjustments to make, but (the girls) hit their major goals. We had a range of three or four or five places that we wanted everybody to find at the beginning and to race there, and they all were able to do that. There's some minor improvements that can be made to their races for us to really reach our potential, but (Oct. 26) was fairly close."
Davidson is looking to stand on the podium at state for the first time since 2002. The top two teams reach the podium.
"Our focus is competing for a podium spot and that's first or second," said King, who believes Beavercreek is the favorite to win the state title. "We're not really going to be talking about Beavercreek or talking about these other teams. We'll know where in the race we want to get to and where we want to race."
Junior Lindsay Stull led Davidson to its second consecutive regional title and eighth overall by placing second of 130 runners in 18 minutes, 10.9 seconds, behind Darby's Daniella Santos (17:48.7).
"While we did have a great race, there's still little parts of all our races that we can work on and get a little bit better for state," Stull said.
Sophia Hoersten placed fifth (18:46.6) for the Wildcats, followed by Sydney Petersen (10th, 18:59.2), Keagan Gehring (11th, 19:05.6), Ava Hoersten (15th, 19:10.4), Justine Smith (23rd, 19:38.6) and Alyssa Mason (54th, 20:25.6).
"When you look at the score, it's an outstanding result," King said. "But if you ask all seven of the runners how good was that compared to your best race, and I don't mean time, I think most of them would say, 'I can do a little bit better,' which is awesome heading into state week. I think they're hungry and seeking a slightly better race."
Last season at state, Davidson finished seventh (229) behind champion Beavercreek (118).
"There's a lot of great teams around Ohio, but our team is really strong this year and I hope we can just build off of our (seventh)-place finish last year and try to get podium," Stull said.
Boys runners earn state meet berth
The boys cross country team also earned a berth to the Division I state meet, as it finished second (130) of 16 teams at regional, behind Gahanna (100).
Connor Ackley placed eighth of 125 runners in 16:07.5 to lead the Wildcats.
Also competing for Davidson were Alex Hudson (25th, 16:39.7), Nick Puhl (39th, 16:52.4), R.J. Sagrilla (40th, 16:52.5), Xavier Gallo (49th, 17:00.1), Mitchell Montgomery (51st, 17:02) and Noah Pease (54th, 17:06.3).
Last season at state, the Wildcats finished second (153) behind Hudson (107).
Girls soccer team had winning season
The girls soccer team posted its fourth consecutive winning season.
Davidson finished 9-5-3 overall and went 4-1 in the OCC-Central Division to place second behind Dublin Coffman (5-0) for the third consecutive season. The Wildcats lost to the Shamrocks 3-0 on Sept. 10.
Seeded 12th in the Division I district tournament, Davidson defeated 42nd-seeded Westland in the first round Oct. 16 before losing to 11th-seeded and host Grove City 2-1 in the second round Oct. 19.
Sophomore forward Sydney Thompson scored against Grove City and sophomore goalkeeper Audrey Gibson-Zweifel had 11 saves.
Forward Sonia Vargas, who missed action in the latter part of the season with an ankle injury, returned for the second-round game. Vargas, who is one of six seniors, has committed to play for Xavier.
"These seniors were part of my first group of kids," said Heather Coonfare, who completed her fourth season as coach. "Five of them were on varsity their freshman year, so they're a special class for me. It was a really strong group."
Senior midfielder Gretta Syrett played varsity for three years.
Others eligible to return are juniors Megan Harper (midfielder), Grace Royer (forward), Kayla Stischok (defender) and Sydney Stover (defender), sophomores Kayleigh Doherty (defender), Kate Kodger (forward), Kierstyn Liming (forward), Khadija Seck (mid-fielder/forward) and Elizabeth Wile (defender) and freshmen Emma Wells (midfielder) and Ella Wickham (goalie).
Girls volleyball coach saw improvement
Girls volleyball coach Betty Cameron was pleased with her team's progression this season.
The Wildcats finished 7-17 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Central to finish third behind champion Coffman (10-0).
"It wasn't the record we were hoping for, but we did have a very tough schedule, which only made us better as individuals and as a team," Cameron said. "We practiced well and needed to continue it through the matches."
The 30th-seeded Wildcats defeated 27th-seeded Marys-ville 25-22, 22-25, 25-18, 25-20 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 14 before losing to eighth-seeded Hartley 25-14, 25-13, 25-6 in the second round Oct. 16.
Middle hitter/outside hitter Elyse Simensky, who was one of seven seniors, led the team in kills (200), digs (217) and aces (25) and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Senior middle hitter/right-side hitter India McCruter led the team in blocks (34) and had 104 kills and was second-team all-league.
Junior outside hitter/right-side hitter Lindsey Buckley also was second-team all-league and senior right-side hitter/opposite hitter Addison DeJesus was honorable mention all-league.
Junior setter Cassidy DeJesus led the team with 205 assists, sophomore outside hitter/setter Madelyn McMillan had 157 assists, 117 digs and 24 aces and freshman setter Anna Rodenbaugh had 146 assists.
"They all came with different experiences and abilities," Cameron said of the seniors. "They worked well together and played hard in practice against each other."
Seniors Grace Fry (defensive specialist) and Bella Rolon (outside hitter) missed the season with injuries.
Sophomore Maci Keys (middle hitter/right-side hitter) and freshman Maura Jacob (defensive specialist) also are eligible to return.