The Hilliard Davidson girls cross country team capped its season by matching its best finish at the Division I state meet since 2014.
Led by junior Lindsay Stull, the Wildcats finished third (131 points) of 20 teams at state Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway behind Beavercreek (51) and Liberty Township Lakota East (121). The top two teams made the podium.
In 2014, Davidson finished third (153) behind Centerville (52) and Mason (92). Prior to that season, the Wildcats' best finish came in 2002 when they won the state title with 72 points, ahead of runner-up Cincinnati Turpin (93).
"It was a great day for the program," coach Nate King said. "It was a good race. Individually, we had by far our best showing with Lindsay (placing) eighth and Sophia (Hoersten) with just a career day to finish 10th. We had never put two in the top 10, so to have that occur is pretty special."
Stull placed eighth of 183 runners in 18 minutes, 5.6 seconds, behind champion Taylor Ewert (17:22.5) of Beavercreek, to earn all-state honors. Stull, a three-time state qualifier, had placed ninth of 176 runners in 18:39.7 last season to earn all-state honors after finishing 30th of 173 runners in 18:37.5 as a freshman.
"We were a little disappointed that we didn't get (on the) podium, but it was still a good day," said Stull, who was the top junior in the race. "I wish I could have finished a little bit better, but overall, it was a good race. There were a lot of great girls this year and a lot of really strong seniors, so I was just going to try to go out and see how hard I could run and how high I could place."
Hoersten, who was one of seven seniors for Davidson, turned in a career-best time of 18:13.7 to finish 10th and join Stull in earning first-team all-state recognition. Stull and Hoersten were the top two area finishers.
"We had a nice improvement in terms of other central Ohio runners from regional to state," King said.
"We try to focus on the end of the season and the state meet, and everything before it is preparation."
Also competing at state were senior Sydney Petersen (44th, 19:08.4), freshman Keagan Gehring (64th, 19:25.8), juniors Ava Hoersten (72nd, 19:30.2) and Justine Smith (107th, 19:53.6) and sophomore Alyssa Mason (158th, 20:57.2).
Stull led the Wildcats to district and regional titles, finishing first (18:00.5) in the district 3 meet Oct. 19 at Darby and second (18:10.9) at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North behind Darby's Daniella Santos (17:48.7).
Stull finished ahead of Santos (15th, 18:19.6) at state.
"There's a wonderful corps of contributors (coming) back (next season)," King said. "We'll graduate our No. 2 (Sophia Hoersten) and No. 3 (Petersen), which obviously is a significant hole to fill, but I'm pretty excited about the future. Lindsay returning is a wonderful foundation to build a team around."
Junior Calla Edmonds is another key runner expected to return.
Boys runners finish seventh at state
The boys cross country team finished seventh (239) of 20 teams in the Division I state meet, behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (92).
Freshman Conner Ackley led the Wildcats, finishing 22nd of 186 runners in 15:53 to earn second-team all-state honors. He was the top freshman in the race.
Sophomore Alex Hudson finished 74th (16:30.3), followed by senior Mitchell Montgomery (96th, 16:40.3), juniors R.J. Sagrilla (97th, 16:40.7) and Nate Gilbert (112th, 16:49.5), senior Xavier Gallo (138th, 17:00.1) and sophomore Nick Puhl (169th, 17:27.6).
"We wanted to get out a little better than we did today," coach Pat Schlecht said. "They were solid, but they had to work a little bit hard. One of our guys (Puhl) went down (with cramps), but the rest of the guys were pretty solid."
The Wildcats had finished second at state the past two seasons.
Led by Ackley, Davidson (39) won the district 1 meet Oct. 19 at Darby, ahead of runner-up Olentangy Orange (78). Ackley was first of 114 runners in 15:59.5.
The Wildcats finished second (130) at regional behind Gahanna (100), with Ackley placing eighth of 125 runners in 16:07.5.
Junior Noah Pease is another key runner expected to return.