Watterson High School boys golf coach Olin Melaragno said it will take a collaborative effort this fall for his team to duplicate its success from a year ago after losing its top player to graduation in Jon Ransone.
"We don't have one guy who can shoot 72 or 73 all the time to carry us like Ransone did last year," Melaragno said. "But the good news is we have several players who can shoot around 78 or 79 pretty consistently, so we still could be a very good team if everyone contributes. We may not be able to ride the coattails of any one player anymore, but we're a lot more balanced and it's nice that we don't have to rely on one person to carry us."
Watterson returns two players in senior Seth Cones and junior David Shepherd.
Last year, Cones shot a 79 and Shepherd carded an 82 to help the Eagles shoot a 312 to win a Division II sectional tournament at The Players Club at Foxfire ahead of runner-up Hartley (324).
Completing the roster are junior Brian Sapp, sophomores Nick DiCello and Peter Hackett and freshman Drew McQuade.
"We only had 19 kids try out for our team as opposed to the 30 to 35 we typically have come out for the team," Melaragno said. "We don't have a lot of varsity experience coming into the year and our numbers are down, but this is a talented group and all of our kids play in tournaments year-round. Our kids are close in ability and scoring averages, so we'll hold a lot of challenge matches throughout the year to give everyone a chance to earn a spot on the team."
Watterson is seeking its first CCL championship since 2008 after watching St. Charles win the past four. Last year, the Eagles finished second in the league at 6-2 as St. Charles went 8-0.
"St. Charles should still be the top team in the CCL because they didn't lose much and we're young," Melaragno said. "But if we have a great day, we could catch them."
The Eagles also are hoping to get back to state as a team for the first time since 2011.
Last year, they placed third (317) in the 12-team district tournament at Granville Golf Course behind state-qualifiers East Liverpool (314) and St. Clairsville (315).
Ransone shot a 75 to secure one of the two individual qualifying spots. He then shot a 168 over two rounds at state at Ohio State's Scarlet Course to finish 22nd.
"To qualify out of our district this season would take a total team effort," Melaragno said. "Our goal is to average 310 as a team and we'll need everyone to pitch in for us to get there."
Four starters return for girls golf team
Four starters have returned for the girls golf team, including a Division I state qualifier in junior Erin Harper.
Last season, Harper shot a 158 to tie for 19th at state at Ohio State's Gray Course.
The other returnees are senior Anna Kairis and juniors Ellie Kairis and Avery Wakefield.
Also expected to be key contributors are freshman Abigail Meyers and sophomore Kat Zacheis.
Watterson opened Aug. 7 by shooting a 328 at Mentel Memorial to win the first round of the 10-team MOGGL tournament. Harper was medalist with a 1-under par 71) and Meyers shot a 77.
"Erin's the glue that holds this team together and she has the potential to win an individual state title this year," coach Rick McQuade said. "Avery and Abby have both been nice surprises for us, too.
"I'm surprised with how well we played in our first tournament of the season. We could be a real good team if everyone improves their short game."
Watterson failed to reach state as a team the past two years after qualifying the previous six seasons.
Last year, the Eagles finished second (348) in the 10-team sectional at Oakhaven behind Dublin Jerome (323) before finishing fourth (338) in the nine-team district at Cooks Creek as Dublin Coffman (314), Jerome (314) advanced to state.
Harper (73) and 2013 graduate Natalie Meyers (74) both qualified for state. Also competing at district were 2013 graduate Ann Jobko (95), Anna Kairis (96) and Wakefield (111).
"We may sneak up on people this year because there's some talent and potential there," McQuade said. "I'd like to make it back to district and, if we can't get our whole team through, I hope we can get at least two people to state as individuals."
Tennis team aiming for another CCL title
The girls tennis team returns six players in seniors Courtney Brown and Lauren Ghidotti and juniors Maria Jeric, Elise Miller, Sydney Simmons and Sophia Wible.
Last year, Ghidotti and 2013 graduate Katie Sheppard went 4-0 in doubles to win the Division I sectional at Pickerington Central. The duo then went 3-1 and placed third at district at Hilliard Davidson before going 3-1 and placing third at state at Ohio State and Elysium Tennis Center.
Brown went 4-1 and placed second in singles at sectional last year before going 1-1 at district.
Coach Susan Weil is expecting junior Mollie Godbout and freshman Sarah Jonesco to further strengthen her lineup.
"We had 27 girls come out for the team and most of them are very competitive players," Weil said. "Lauren is one of the top high school players in all of Ohio and Courtney is very good, too. We had 10 freshmen come out and we're deeper than usual."
Watterson, which opened Aug. 14 against Dayton Chaminade Julienne, is seeking its fifth consecutive CCL title this season. Its first league match is Aug. 27 at home against Hartley.
"We're the only division I team in the CCL, so obviously we want to continue to win it," Weil said. "Outside of the CCL, we're playing a lot of big competition to get ourselves ready for the (postseason) tournaments."