Runners focus on winning district
Watterson High School cross country coach Matt McGowan guided his boys team to a first-place finish in the Division II, district 2 meet in 2009, marking the Eagles' first district championship since 1978.
As the highest-seeded team competing in the Division II, district 2 meet on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Watkins Memorial, the Eagles are hoping they can secure their second district title in four seasons.
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the regional meet Oct. 27 at Troy.
"Anytime you can win a district title, it's a big accomplishment because you get to hang a championship banner in the school gymnasium," McGowan said. "When we won district three years ago, it was the first time our boys team had done it in a long time, and we don't want to have wait that many years between district titles again. Jordan Lucki was part of our district championship team as a freshman and it would be nice if he could bookend his career with another district title as a senior."
Watterson is seeded fourth and will compete against fifth-seeded Buckeye Valley, seventh-seeded Heath, eighth-seeded Sparta Highland, 11th-seeded Hartley, 12th-seeded Lakewood, Columbus South, Eastmoor Academy, Bloom-Carroll, Amanda-Clearcreek, Independence and Northridge.
The Eagles beat Buckeye Valley in the Arrowhead Invitational on Sept. 19 at Whetstone when they scored 74 points to finish second in the 14-team event behind Bexley (68) and ahead of fifth-place Buckeye Valley (121).
Last year, Watterson finished fifth (109) in the 11-team Division II, district 2 meet behind champion Lakewood (58). Qualifying for regional as individuals were Sam Kayuha, who placed third at sectional in 17 minutes, 33.38 seconds, and Mark Widerschein, who placed 16th (18:31.1).
"We've already beaten Buckeye Valley this year, but there are a lot of factors than can come into play in cross country, such as illnesses and injuries, so there are no guarantees," McGowan said. "The most important thing is that we run well and make it through to regional.
"Our top five runners have been consistently strong and we'll need all five of them to run well because our sixth through eighth runners have been back a bit."
The Eagles scored 56 points in the CCL meet Oct. 12 at the Westerville Recreation Center to place second, behind St. Charles (19) and ahead of DeSales (68), Ready (116) and Hartley (120).
Alex Pratt placed fourth in 17:22.5 to lead the Eagles. Kayuha (10th, 17:53.5) was next, followed by Mark Guza (11th, 17:56.9), Max McClelland (14th, 18:09.9), Jordan Lucki (17th, 18:41.6), Widerschein (20th, 19:03.7) and Eddie Passen (21st, 19:04.7).
"Second in the CCL is good because St. Charles is a big Division I school and DeSales was ranked third in the district ahead of us," McGowan said.
The girls team is seeded 25th in the district in Division I and will compete in the district 1 meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Watkins Memorial along with second-seeded Hilliard Davidson, sixth-seeded Westerville North, eighth-seeded New Albany, Teays Valley, Pickerington Central, Westerville Central, Canal Winchester, Lancaster, Westerville South, Big Walnut, Marysville, Dresden Tri-Valley and Chillicothe.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals qualify for the regional meet Oct. 20 at Pickerington North.
Last year, the Eagles finished 10th (273) in the 15-team Division I, district 3 meet behind champion Davidson (43) and didn't have any individual regional qualifiers.
"Our girls aren't seeded very high, but if we run well we'll have an outside chance to make it to regional," McGowan said. "If we can't go as a team, I'm hoping that we'll get some individuals through."
The Eagles scored 49 points to win the CCL meet ahead of DeSales (53), Columbus School for Girls (75), Ready (76) and Hartley (90).
Jessica Passwater led the way for Watterson, placing sixth (21:06.6). Heidi Hetterscheidt (seventh, 21:17.1) was next, followed by Kaleigh O'Reilly (11th, 21:47.2), Alisa Noll (12th, 21:53.9), Claire DiOrio (13th, 22:05.5), Clare Aman (15th, 22:12.7) and Hanna Merklin (23rd, 23:19.8).
"CSG, DeSales and Hartley all have tough teams, so doing well at this meet (is) a big accomplishment, especially considering that three of our top five girls have never run cross country before this year," McGowan said.
Ransone finishes 22nd in state golf tourney
Senior Jon Ransone of the boys golf team wrapped up his prep career by shooting a 168 over 36 holes to finish 22nd in the Division II state tournament held Oct. 12 and 13 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Ransone carded an 84 both days. Eaton's Cameron Willis won the state title with a 151, finishing six strokes ahead of the co-runners-up, Chesapeake's Nick Duffield (157) and Dayton Oakwood's Tripp French (157).
"I had high expectations for myself and I was hoping I would do better than I did both days," Ransone said. "But it was good to be here and I definitely learned a lot from the experience of playing here. I'm looking to play college golf and I really had a great experience playing high school golf."
Football team beats DeSales in 3OTs
A pair of long pass completions and a big defensive series helped the football team win the longest game of its series against its biggest rival.
Watterson improved to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in the CCL-Silver Division with a 24-21 triple-overtime win over visiting DeSales on Oct. 12 despite being held scoreless for the first 43:19.
A 36-yard reception from quarterback Andy Elberson to Patrick Latimer that moved the Eagles to the DeSales 38 fueled a drive capped by a game-tying 2-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Golden with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter.
Another big passing play came on third-and-13 in the first overtime, as Elberson hooked up with Michael Vlahakis for a 23-yard touchdown.
Michael Harper made a 21-yard field goal in the third overtime.
"You can't measure it," coach Dan Bjelac said of what the win means to the Eagles. "There's a lot of computer points alone, but it's something just to battle in there and complete it."
Watterson can win the outright league title with a win Friday, Oct. 19, at St. Charles. If the Cardinals win, the three teams would share the league title. DeSales beat St. Charles 28-16 on Sept. 28.
With the score tied at 14 after the first overtime, Elberson scored on a 3-yard run in the second overtime to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead.
DeSales running back J.T. Blubaugh answered with a 9-yard touchdown run, but the Stallions were held off the scoreboard in the third overtime. In that possession, DeSales quarterback Alex Perrine threw back-to-back incompletions and Adam Acquista missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt on fourth-and-7 from the Watterson 17.
Watterson got runs of 6 and 3 yards from Walter Green and 7 yards from Golden to set up the winning field goal. Harper had missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt earlier in the game.