The Licking Heights cross country teams are setting ambitious goals and chasing them down this season–even if this involves pushing themselves harder than they ever have before. This season has brought new levels of success for both the middle school and high school teams, with multiple school records broken and athletes consistently finishing in the top 10 at meets.
Two students in particular are celebrating a record-breaking season. On Sept. 23, sophomore Addison Caudill set the girls’ high school cross country record with a time of 19:36 at Heath’s Don Hardin Invitational. The previous record, 19:46, was set by Caudill herself last year during her freshman season.
Eighth grader Lucas Limbrick broke the boys’ middle school record with a time of 10:45.37 at the Pickerington North Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 30. The prior record, 11:04, was set in 1987. Last season, as a seventh grader, Limbrick set the third place school record with a time of 11:35.
The records continue outside of school–Limbrick set course records this season at both The Hux Utica Invitational and the Licking Heights Cross Country Invitational. With the exception of two meets, he placed in the top three finishers all season. Fellow boys’ top-10 finishers throughout the season include eighth grader Jaxon Heiser, junior Oliver Mills and sophomore Logan Summers.
“I am excited to see where my running journey takes me in the Licking County League and State meets over the coming weeks,” Limbrick says.
Caudill established herself as a force on the high school cross country team last season, and her accolades continue this season as well. Of the 10 regular-season invitationals the high school girls team participated in, Caudill earned a spot in the top 10 at all of them–with six second-place finishes and one first-place finish at Licking Heights’ invitational. She placed 31st out of 348 runners during the OHSAA Early Season Invitational in August.
Sophomore Morgan Watkins is also experiencing a successful season, finishing several times in the girls’ top 10 at meets. This includes a third-place finish at the Licking Heights Invitational, fifth-place finish at The Hux Invitational, and ninth-place finishes at the Don Hardin Invitational and Johnstown Harrier Showdown.
For Watkins, finding success as a runner is all about setting specific goals to challenge herself. Her goals this year include getting her 5K time into the 20s and qualifying for regionals. She says the coaching staff all support her in their unique ways–from a motivational talk, to a hard workout, to a few jokes or life chat.
Now in her third season of cross country, Watkins says her favorite thing about being on the team is the environment and having a space to share her deep love of running.
“I can have such a bad day and the second I go to cross country, my mood is lifted just because of the coaches, my friends, and the fact that I enjoy running,” she says. “Even the tough workouts inspire me because they remind me what I'm working towards, and I love the runner's high we get after easy runs or meets.”
Seventh grader Lauren Mahoney started running this season and has already snagged placements like third at The Hux, second at Licking Heights and fourth at Licking Valley. Like Watkins, Mahoney says setting goals inspires her to push herself harder during practices.
Above all, Mahoney says the support her coaches and teammates have for each other encourages her as a runner.
“My favorite thing about running for Licking Heights is just how supportive the team is. All athletes cheer on others no matter how they do,” she says. “I am really proud of what I have done on the Licking Heights cross country team.”