As the Watterson High School girls swimming and diving team's only healthy returning state qualifier, senior Madeline Grubbe concedes that the Eagles have less depth and experience than they had the past three seasons.
Nevertheless, the University of Toledo recruit is confident the Eagles still have the potential to put together a strong season and win their eighth consecutive CCL championship.
Watterson opened Nov. 25 with a 90-80 loss to Columbus Academy and finished 18th (61) in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 7 at Ohio State behind champion Upper Arlington (488) as 46 teams scored.
"We lost a lot of good seniors, so it's been a big adjustment because we have a young, small team this year," Grubbe said. "We've always had more upperclassmen than we have now and we lack the depth that we're used to having, but we're motivated to keep our tradition going and I think we're going to do well again this season. We just need to make sure everyone, including our underclassmen, steps up and helps out."
Seniors Rachel Dawson and Grubbe are team captains.
Also expected to be key contributors are juniors Taylor Brown and Alicia Mar-gello, sophomores Molly DeSantis, Jenna Durham, Kaleigh O'Reilly, Maddie Penn and Bailey Williams and freshman Mae Welty.
Last season in the Division I state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton, the 200-yard medley relay of Grubbe, Carrie Horan, Sam Schuttinger and Josephine Fike finished 10th in a program-record 1 minute, 48.16 seconds.
Grubbe also placed 19th in the 100 backstroke (58.75) and Horan finished 20th in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.13).
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Schuttinger graduated, Fike transferred to Dublin Jerome for her sophomore year and Horan will be undergoing rotator cuff surgery Wednesday, Dec. 18, and is expected to miss the remainder of her sophomore season.
"(Grubbe and Dawson) have been great leaders for our young team," first-year coach Megan Downing said. "Our kids have a lot of energy and they are fun to be around."
Last season, the Eagles scored 404 points in the CCL meet to hold off runner-up Columbus School for Girls (360) for their seventh league title in a row and scored 14 points at state to finish 34th behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (234) as 55 teams scored.
"CSG is good competition for us in the CCL meet, but I think we have the drive to pull it off again this year," Grubbe said. "We just all need to do our part to help our team win and reach our goals."
The boys team, which lost to Academy 130-25 in its opener Nov. 25 and failed to score in the Ned Reeb Invitational, has five members in junior captain Isaiah Mefferd, sophomores Michael Carmody and Austin Leahy and freshmen Daniel Cobb and Joseph Heutel.
The Eagles had seven members last season.
Mefferd is the Eagles' only returning Division II district qualifier from last season. He placed third in the 100 back (personal-record 56.0) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (55.72) and teamed with 2013 graduates Michael Schwartz, Noah Oliver and Jack Preston to place fourth in the 400 free relay (3:33.55).
"We have only five boys on our team, so we're kind of rebuilding this season," Downing said. "Our goals are more for individuals since our team is so small. We're expecting Isaiah to have a good year and he would like to make it to state in the 100 back after missing it by one spot last season. And we'd like to get Austin to district in an event as well."
Girls basketball team wins CCL opener
The girls basketball team won its CCL opener Dec. 5, beating Hartley 46-33 at home behind 13 points from Bryn McQuade, 11 from Makenzie Bevins and 10 from Dominique Garrett.
The Eagles improved to 3-1 overall with a 61-40 win over host Whetstone on Dec. 7 behind 22 points from Bevins and eight from Garrett.