Meet Coverage -
Following their No. 19 appointment in the MileSplit50 Top 25 Team Rankings, Hilliard Davidson opened the 2021 cross country campaign emphatically by winning the Division I Scored race on Saturday at the OHSAA Early Season Invitational.
Led by individual race champion Connor Ackley, the Wildcats tallied 65 points with all five of the team's scorers crossing the finish line inside the top 35 overall. Supporting Ackley in the top 10 were seniors Nick Puhl in third and Alex Hudson in seventh. Rounding out the scoring group were sophomore Brody Boyd in twentieth and senior Zach Whitney, who placed thirty-fourth.
The next featured meet on the calendar for Hilliard Davidson will be their home invite, the Hot Summer Bash on September 4th, where they'll meet the 2020 Division I state meet runner-up squad St. Xavier.
Positioned behind Hilliard Davidson on Saturday were Solon (149 points) in second and Loveland (185 points) in third, who both put forth high quality openers. The Comets 5-man scoring group produced a 37-second spread, as they were led by senior Ryan Goldfeder in fifteenth place at 16:51.6 and junior James Howell, who also eclipsed 17 minutes with his 16:56.6 mark.
Ryan Chevalier and Brady Steiner guided Loveland up front with their fifth and thirteenth showings overall. Chevalier, a member of our Pre-Season Subjective Top 10, went 16:13.6 and Steiner clocked 16:44.9.
Joining the aforementioned Connor Ackley, Nick Puhl and Ryan Chevalier in the individual top five were Little Miami's William Zegarski and New Philadelphia's Owen Brady. Zegarski went 15:40.1 for second and Brady recorded a 16:00.9 mark for fifth place.
Saturday's opening contest saw the girls from Division I take over Fortress Obetz's 5 kilometer course. Team-wise, Loveland (90 points) led the way with the formidable group from Hilliard Davidson occupying the runner-up spot (143 points). Perrysburg (188 points) checked-in at third, Medina (211 points) were fourth and the 2020 state champions from Centerville rounded out the top five with 212 points.
Loveland's scoring placers were 11-12-18-20-29 with Madison Conatser and Jesse Gibbins doing yeoman's work up front. Conatser was eleventh overall at 19:27.8 and Gibbins produced a 19:33.7 mark for thirteenth.
Individual honors went to Katie Clute, as the junior from Olmsted Falls posted a time of 18:30.8. The remainder of the top five also broke 19 minutes with Mia Robillard taking second, Milly Leonard residing in third, Alyssa Shope crossing the line fourth and Sarah Peer placing fifth.
In Division II / III Scored competition, the Graham duo from Marlington captured individual victories in the final two contests of the day. Noah Graham trailed early, but made up ground as the race progressed to secure his triumph in 16:31.5. Battling searing heat and a much-traversed course at that point, his effort, along with teammate Colin Cernansky's fifth place performance, helped put the Dukes in second (75 points), trailing only the champions from Unioto.
Corey Schobelock and Gabe Lynch earned second and fourth place finishes, respectively, to lead the Shermans to victory. Seth Ogan, Turner Markko and Luke Kendrew scored at places 10, 14 and 33, as they supported the group's 63 point effort.
Bella Graham persevered against arduous conditions and outlasted very game opponent up front in Taylor Spencer to take the win in a time of 19:37.6. Graham, a member of our Pre-Season Subjective Top 10, benefited from her experience during last year's Division II state meet, where she collected a sixth place finish on the very same layout.
Spencer, a junior from Waynesfield-Goshen, joined Graham as the only other competitor to run under 20 minutes. Her 19:52.1 outing should spring board her to more strong races ahead as the 2021 cross country season unfolds.
For the team competition, Madeira, with 97 points, led the charge while Carroll (104 points) took second and the 4-time reigning Division II state champions from Lexington (128 points) claimed the third spot.