Cross Country: Hilliard Davidson leads central Ohio programs at state meet
For the third week in a row, the Hilliard Davidson cross country program was the leader of the postseason pack in central Ohio.
In the state meet Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz, the Wildcats boys and girls earned the area’s top team finishes in Division I. That capped a stellar stretch in which both Davidson teams also captured district and regional championships.
While the Wildcats set the pace, numerous runners from central Ohio earned top-25 state finishes.
The Davidson girls nearly captured the state title before settling for a runner-up finish.
The Wildcats led at the 1- and 2-mile marks but ended up second (138) of 20 teams behind Centerville (128).
It was Davidson’s ninth top-10 finish in 10 seasons.
“When the dust settles, we’ll be really happy,” coach Nate King said. “I’m really happy. It’s the first time in 18 years we’ve been on the podium (with a top-two finish). ... Centerville ran a hell of a race. We knew it was going to be a slug match.”
The Elks had the first- and second-place finishers, with Mia Robillard winning in 17 minutes, 58.5 seconds followed by Emma Bucher in 17:59.8. There were 176 runners.
Dillon Sweetman earned Davidson’s top finish by placing 17th (18:39.2), followed by Caitlyn Jones (19th, 18:41.1), Alyssa Mason (37th, 19:08.8), Keagan Gehring (67th, 19:30.4), Sophia Lane (68th, 19:30.8) and Lindsay Stull (83rd, 19:42.6).
Stull, who missed most of the regular season with a right foot injury, finished eighth (18:05.8) at state last season.
Gahanna junior Alyssa Shope, who was hurt for several weeks during the regular season with a hip injury, was the area’s top finisher. She was fifth in 18:10.1.
“I was right in the front pack of four consistent girls and those girls kept on switching as girls came up from behind,” said Shope, who won regional and district titles. “I’m at about 95 percent and it was starting to hurt at the end so it took a lot of strength.”
Gahanna finished 17th (429). Dublin Coffman was 15th (313) and Upper Arlington was 16th (373).
Aubrey Steiner was the top runner for UA (52nd, 19:19.5) and Kylie Feeney led Coffman (61st, 19:25.9).
Individual competitors were Worthington Kilbourne’s Toby Bomser (46th, 19:15.5), Reynoldsburg’s Avril Moyer (72nd, 19:32.3), Dublin Scioto’s Audrey Bannister (80th, 19:35.2), New Albany’s Ellie McClelland (86th, 19:47.9) and Westerville Central’s Tara Will (105th, 20:08.9).
In the boys race, Davidson placed sixth (169) of 20 teams behind champion West Chester Lakota West (73).
Connor Ackley, who won regional and district titles, was 11th (15:48.5) of 177 runners to lead the Wildcats.
UA was 14th (348), Dublin Jerome was 15th (363) and Coffman finished 19th (396).
Jerome’s Sam Ricchiuti was the area’s top finisher, placing ninth (15:48).
Liam Shaughnessy led Coffman (24th, 16:05.5) and Charlie Nowinski led UA (64th, 16:33.3).
Individual runners were Hilliard Darby’s Sean Carney (12th, 15:49.7), New Albany’s Victor Orsinelli (21st, 15:58.1) and Will Benseler (33rd, 16:12.4), Olentangy Orange’s Jake Ethridge (55th, 16:27.3), Reynoldsburg’s Seth Davis (59th, 16:30.1), Thomas Worthington’s Noah Silliman (84th, 16:45.5), New Albany’s Ethan McNichols (97th, 16:54.6) and Pickerington North’s Nick Whitehead (114th, 17:03).
Bexley was the top area boys squad as the Lions finished 16th (323) of 19 teams behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (113).
John Laing was 78th (17:14.5) of 168 runners to lead Bexley.
“We’re beyond thrilled with the way they finished,” coach Eric Acton said. “They ran within themselves. You don’t have to go into this race and try to be the winner at the mile mark. What you have to do is go run the way that got you here.”
Columbus Academy’s Luke Nester was the area’s top finisher, placing 16th (16:13.0).
Watterson, which finished 17th (359), was led by Will Garey (24th, 16:28.5).
Denny Hammond announced that he will not return next season as cross country coach at Academy and will not coach the track and field teams in the spring. A former coach at Reynoldsburg, Hammond was the cross country coach at Academy for six seasons and the track coach for five.
“It’s always a tough decision, but it’s just time,” Hammond said. “Hopefully they’ll let me help out with the distance runners in track as a volunteer. … I’ve enjoyed it. Six years with these guys, the program has really improved, (but) it’s time. I’m 64 and I have a couple of grandsons I spend a lot of time with. Family comes first.”
The Bexley girls squad was the lone area representative in the team competition, finishing 10th (250) of 20 teams behind champion Lexington (113).
Claire MacDonald was 34th (19:38.9) and Maria Steinke was 49th (19:54.8) of 177 runners to lead the Lions.
Columbus School for Girls’ Fabi Corso finished 47th (19:53.4) and Academy’s Regan Cornelius was 77th (20:24.2).
Grandview’s Derek Amicon finished third (15:43.4) in the boys race after winning in 15:42.5 last fall at National Trail Raceway.
Just like a week earlier at regional, Amicon finished behind Fredericktown’s Thomas Caputo (15:31.5) and Belpre’s Eli Fullerton (15:36.4). Amicon edged Canfield South Range’s Spencer Bush (15:43.9) at the finish line.
“The goal was to stick with (Caputo and Fullerton), and I knew that meant I had to stick with that pack,” Amicon said. “It was hard in the middle. I was struggling, but I was able to stick with that pack.
“Then they started to break away and I didn’t quit but they were kicking it, and I knew they really wanted it bad. I really just made a point of getting third. I wouldn’t have been happy with fourth or fifth.”
Grandview’s Denison Murphy was 54th (16:51.5).
The Grandview girls finished 18th (432) of 20 teams behind champion West Liberty-Salem (55). Madeline Palmisciano (93rd, 20:59.9) and Greta Tew (110th, 21:20.8) led the Bobcats, who were competing as a team at state for the first time since 2012.