Grant Dolven and Weston Niermeyer have been playing on the same tennis court for only a month.
Grant Dolven and Weston Niermeyer have been playing on the same tennis court for only a month, but the doubles team for St. Charles Preparatory School has qualified for the Division I state tournament Friday and Saturday, May 27-28, at Hilliard Davidson.
Dolven, a senior, and Niermeyer, a junior, finished fourth at district, which concluded May 21 at Davidson. They lost the third-place match to Billy Weldon and Stu Little of Upper Arlington 6-1, 6-2. In a semifinal, they lost to the other UA doubles team of Eric Vannatta and Nate Wallace 6-4, 6-3.
"It means a lot for Grant and myself because we've played varsity since my freshman year. It's a nice way to end our career," Niermeyer said after a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Canyon Teague and Stephen Cheng of Gahanna in a state-qualifying match. "I don't think I was focused at the beginning of the season. In a couple of games in the second set, I started to make some shots and that got me more focused and more positive about how we could change the course of the match. From there we kept playing at a high level."
•The volleyball team will play defending champion Akron Hoban in a Division II state semifinal at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, May 28, at Pickerington North. The semifinal at 10 a.m. has Kettering Alter playing St. Bernard Roger Bacon.
The final will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at North.
Last season, St. Charles lost to Hoban 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 in the state championship at Centerville.
The Cardinals improved to 19-8 overall by beating Hilliard Bradley 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-22 in a regional final on May 21 at Gahanna. They beat Watterson for the third time this season in a regional semifinal on May 18 with a 25-16, 22-25, 25-18, 25-23 win on the Eagles home court.
"It's hard enough to beat a team three times, let alone when you're playing them on their home court," coach Shane Farrell said. "We're playing our best volleyball at the right time of the year."
•The baseball team finished 13-13 overall, losing to Watkins Memorial 4-0 on May 11 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The Cardinals beat Westerville North 3-2 in the opening round May 9.
"We improved a lot, but it was just one of those seasons," said coach Ray Benjamin, who completed his 14th season. "We always try to climb the mountain and try to be at the peak during the end of the season. We started climbing early and we fell a little back at midseason, but we came back and won six of our last eight games."
The Cardinals tied Ready for fourth (2-5) in the CCL behind DeSales (7-1), Watterson (5-3) and Hartley (4-4).
The Cardinals were led offensively by senior infielder Michael Mackessey (.342 batting average, 11 stolen bases) and junior outfielder Joey Gilmore (.342, 17 RBI). Junior infielder Calvin Flinders batted .319 and scored 18 runs and junior outfielder Chris Fenlon hit .295. Sophomore catcher Lucas Glover hit .279 and senior infielder Rory Stitlein batted .275.
On the mound, St. Charles was led by senior left-hander Patrick Dyer. The Akron signee went 5-3 with a 2.45 ERA and 68 strikeouts. Senior Jim Romaker was 1-0 with a 1.87 ERA and junior J.D. Vrabel was 3-5 with a 5.86 ERA. Gilmore was 1-1 and sophomore Chris Brake was 1-0. Fenlon was 1-1 with a save.
"We had 10 seniors and we will definitely miss all of them," Benjamin said. "You can't replace a kid like Pat Dyer. His three losses were by a combined three runs.
"Michael Mackessey was solid all year for us both offensively and defensively and Jim Romaker came in and became a great middle-relief guy for us and kept us in a lot of games."
The remaining seniors included Anthony Buchta (INF), Billy Feehan (INF/C), Andy Hof (P), Thomas King (C/3B), Kevin Manley (3B) and Alex Styborski (OF).
•The lacrosse team finished 6-10 overall, losing to host Thomas Worthington 11-4 on May 19 in a play-in game of the Division I Central Region tournament.
It was the second game for Mark Berndt as coach of the Cardinals. He also coached a 10-7 loss to DeSales on May 13 after seventh-year coach Bill Taylor resigned earlier that day.
"It was going to be coach Taylor's last year anyway," Berndt said. "I was preparing for this, but it came a little bit sooner than I expected.
"It was a little different situation for the whole team, but the team came together pretty well," Berndt said of his two games as coach. "Everybody stuck together. It wasn't me doing anything different out there on my own."
Senior defender Greg Gernetzke was first-team all-region. Senior goalkeeper J.D. Orr was second-team region, the team's Most Valuable Player and its Most Improved Player. Senior midfielder Berk Ellis and senior defender Andrew Wodarcyk were honorable mention all-region.
Junior attacker Ryan Finneran was the team's Offensive MVP, and Gernetzke and Wodarcyk shared Defensive MVP honors.
St. Charles has seven seniors in Ellis, Gernetzke, midfielder Joe Hartge, attacker Daniel Johanni, Orr, midfielder Brendan Quinn and Wodarcyk. Ellis and Hartge were captains along with Finneran.
Other key players expected to return include juniors Jack Bengal (defender), Michael Clouser (midfielder), Franke Jeney (goalie), Dominic Julian (midfield), Isaac Kebe (attacker), Trevor Lawler (midfielder), Zack Rikk (goalie), Michael Rohde (defender) and Conor Stratman (defender).
Sophomores include Tommy Drought (defender), Jack France (midfielder), Michael Fyda (midfielder), Nick Herfel (midfielder), Stuart Hudelson (attacker), Phil Kebe (midfielder), Phil LeFleur (defender), David Shuster (midfielder) and Marcus Ward (attacker). Freshmen players were Ryan Cleary (midfielder), Mike Hamrock (midfielder) and Henry McCann (midfielder).
"We have to go back to work," Berndt said. "We only lose seven seniors out of 65 guys and we're expecting another big freshman class. The program is going well, but we need to go back to the blackboard of fundamental stick-work and that will make the team better."