Watkins Memorial High School girls cross country runner Morgan Reichert's improvement as a senior isn't typical.

Watkins Memorial High School girls cross country runner Morgan Reichert's improvement as a senior isn't typical.

In a sport sometimes dominated by underclassmen, she somehow found another gear during the second half of the season. Reichert, a four-year varsity contributor, was the Warriors' lead runner in four of the past six races entering the Division I regional meet last Saturday at Pickerington North.

"She's definitely running at another level right now," coach John Jarvis said after Reichert finished second overall in the district 2 meet Oct. 23 at Watkins Memorial in a personal-best time of 19 minutes, 2 seconds. "It's just the culmination of four years of hard work. She had a nice track (and field) season (last spring), put in a solid summer and has really come on here the past few weeks."

Reichert, who began the season on the sideline with a stress fracture, trailed only Dublin Coffman's Rachel Bosworth (18:23) at the district meet as the Warriors totaled 114 points to place third to earn a third consecutive regional team berth. The Shamrocks (26) captured the title.

"I had to take the ACT test before the race. I was really just hoping to qualify (for the regional), maybe get (a) top-seven (finish) and make (first-team) all district at best," Reichert said. "But about a mile in I realized I was feeling pretty good and everyone around me was breathing (hard)."

Reichert also ran first for the Warriors on Sept. 18 at the Galion Cross Country Festival (12th overall, 19:28), on Sept. 25 at the Bob Reall Invitational in Lancaster (seventh, 20:08) and on Oct. 9 at the Johnstown Invitational (first, 19:17). Each time she supplanted teammate Mara White, who was a state qualifier as a freshman in 2008, as the team's No. 1 runner. Reichert also reset her personal-best time by finishing fourth (19:14) during the OCC-Capital Division meet on Oct. 16 in Newark, where White placed third (19:10).

Another junior, Kara Sparks, also runs in the team's front group despite knee and hip injuries. She finished 15th at the district meet in 20:22. White placed 13th at district in 19:57.

Reichert's breakout season now has her thinking about running in college. She said several Division I schools are showing an interest, including Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green and Louisville.

"I've been fortunate," Reichert said. "I've got to run three years with Mara and my freshman year with Audrey Springer (a state qualifier in 2006). There's not really a rivalry now between Mara and me, either. We work together."

•The girls soccer team, which graduates only two seniors in Emily Schell and Rebekah Gump, will welcome back much of its starting lineup next season after finishing 5-9-3 overall following a 4-2 loss to Delaware in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The Warriors had to play without freshman goalkeeper Madison Moore, who suffered a thumb injury a few days before that game and was wearing a soft cast. After winning just one game in 2009, the Warriors turned to several newcomers this fall and eventually finished sixth in the OCC-Capital at 1-4-2 as New Albany (7-0) captured the title. Moore, who posted seven shutouts, made second-team all-league while sophomore defender Melissa Spurbeck earned special-mention honors.

Junior Erin Marek, who was first-team all-league, also returns after she led the team with six goals as a defender-turned-forward. Junior forward Alisha Hastilow scored five goals, and sophomore defender Shelby Jude had a team-leading seven assists to make honorable-mention all-league.

Freshman Natalie Hagans will return as an outside midfielder, and classmate Britnee Stapleton's versatility at both ends of the field helped offset some other injuries and deficiencies. Midfielder Makenzie Lauterbach, another freshman, also saw significant playing time at the end of the season.

"It's exciting to think about what we have coming back," coach Michelle Lisy said. "We'll have a solid core of experienced players, and hopefully we'll add to that with some of our other freshmen joining the mix next year.

"We played pretty well at the end of the year (finishing with a 4-4-2 stretch), and it's always your goal to peak late. We've got something really solid to build on."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Watkins Memorial cross country and football teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Oct. 23 - Boys: Finished third (124) at the home Division I district 3 meet, behind champion Westerville North (52) as Pickerington North (second, 118), Vincent Warren (fourth, 159), Canal Winchester (fifth, 170) and Newark (191) also advanced to the regional. Gage Marek placed 14th overall (16:32) and Regan Coyle was 15th (16:33) to lead the Warriors. Also scoring were Erich Vlaar (22nd, 16:51), Taylor Williams (23rd, 16:54) and Kyle Day (50th, 17:25); Girls: Finished third (114) at the 12-team district 2 meet, behind champion Dublin Coffman (26) as Mount Vernon (second, 78), Thomas Worthington (116) and Olentangy (116) also advanced to the regional. Morgan Reichert placed second overall (19:02) and Mara White was 13th (19:57). Also scoring were Kara Sparks (15th, 20:22), Veda Durbin (41st, 21:38) and Jessica Rankin (43rd, 21:44). Last Saturday - At the regional meet at Pickerington North. The top four teams and individuals not on a qualifying team who finished in the top 16 advanced to the state meet Saturday at Scioto Downs.

FOOTBALL

*Oct. 23 - Defeated Franklin Heights 36-20. Trailing 14-7, Brenden Kemp scored a tying touchdown on a 14-yard run late in the first half. The Warriors then outscored the Falcons 22-6 the rest of the way. Devonte Marable threw for 131 yards while completing touchdown passes to Rodney Henkel and Aaron Hix. Kemp's two touchdowns pushed his season total to 15. *Last Friday - Played Hilliard Bradley in the regular-season finale

Of note: The Warriors were 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Capital before last Friday.

BOYS SOCCER

•Record: 13-3-1, 5-1-1 (second) in OCC-Capital •Seniors lost: Shane Bope, Austin Dent, Chris Hockstock, Cameron Johnson, Adam Knox and Tyler Woolard •Key returnees: Jordan Elizondo, Ethan George, Connor McCafferty, Craig Morgan, Jared Newman and Reid Wolfe

GIRLS SOCCER

•Record: 5-9-3, 1-4-2 (sixth) in OCC-Capital •Seniors lost: Rebekah Gump and Emily Schell •Key returnees: Alisha Hastilow, Shelby Jude, Makenzie Lauterbach, Erin Marek, Madison Moore, Britnee Stapleton and Melissa Spurbeck

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

•Record: 5-19, 1-13 (tied for seventh) in OCC-Capital •Seniors lost: Randi Casto, Halle Cheplowitz, Alisan Miller, Mallory Warrington and Kayla Zellers •Key returnees: Brittany Cook, Sam Evener, Taylor Livingston, Brianna Morris, Morgan Napier and Erica Newsom