The Watkins Memorial High School cross country teams were represented in the Division I state meet Nov. 2 National Trail Raceway by junior Josie Woosley and sophomore Andrew Jordan, and their reactions to qualifying for state were quite different.
Both advanced to state by finishing in the top 16 at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Woosley finished 15th (19 minutes, 38.72 seconds) of 123 runners in the girls race at regional. She had placed fifth of 120 runners in 19:21.2 in the district 3 meet Oct. 19 on the Warriors' home course.
"It wasn't the race I expected to run, far from it," she said of her regional performance. "But at least I have another race to go out there and prove to everyone what I am capable of running."
Woosley finished 97th (19:46.23) at state last season.
"I just didn't feel well (at regional) and I was eighth or ninth through two miles, but then I started to drop like a rock," she said. "I want to finish the state meet in a time that portrays the amount of work and training I put in this year."
Jordan made his first state appearance after finishing 16th (16:17.9) of 122 runners in the boys race at regional. He was edged by Dublin Jerome's Bradley Davis for 15th (16:17.75) but crossed the finish line a split second before Olentangy's Chase Benton (16:17.94) to secure the final state-qualifying berth.
"I am very, very happy," Jordan said. "My main goal this year was just to get to state. I made it by .04 of a second and was very lucky. Once we hit the woods, I knew I was 16th and I was just trying to hold my position. But (Benton) pulled up and we were side-by-side, so I kept pushing and we caught up with (Davis). It was just an all-out battle to the finish."
Jordan was the only member of the boys team to qualify for regional.
"I thought Andrew ran a fantastic race, especially considering it was his first regional," coach John Jarvis said. "He didn't get caught up and he was 35th after the first mile and steadily moved through it and he had a good kick in the end. He just has good race instincts. He doesn't overthink. He just responds."
Woosley was joined at regional by her teammates. The girls team finished 11th (261 points) of 16 teams. Gahanna (90) won the regional title and was joined at state by Upper Arlington (104), Hilliard Davidson (118) and Thomas Worthington (143).
In addition to Woosley, competing at regional were freshmen Samantha Hyme (27th, 20:03.55) and Raechal Schoenberg (54th, 20:35.43), senior Natalie Watson (91st, 21:31.94), sophomore Josie Cotugno (108th, 22:22.05), freshman Lauren Miller (113th, 22:41.46) and junior Claire Snode (119th, 23:03.7).
"It's a very young team and I thought the girls did a good job," Jarvis said. "We ran a fairly strong race and it was a good step forward for us as a program. We had some freshmen get some valuable regional experience.
"As for Josie Woosley, she puts a lot of pressure on herself and she ran tight. She felt like others might think last year was a fluke if she didn't make it back (to state). It was the first time all season I've seen her nervous and with big eyes at a starting line. Hopefully, she proved to herself she belongs in the state meet and the pressure will be gone forever."
Season ends for football team
The football team closed its season Nov. 1 at home against Lakewood.
According to coach Jeff Severino, among the players who have had standout seasons for the Warriors are senior two-way tackle Kyle Hickin and senior wide receiver and defensive back Hunter Holton.
At 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, Hickin is hard to miss when he's on the field.
"Kyle is a hard worker who runs a 4.9-second 40 (yards) and has good feet," Severino said. "He runs well for a big guy and he barely comes off the field for us. He never wants to come out of a game, even when you know he's tired."
Hickin had 10 tackles in a 28-3 loss to Licking Heights on Oct. 25. The loss dropped Watkins Memorial to 4-5 overall and 0-3 in the LCL-Big School Division.
"His speed enables him to make some of those tackles from behind because most teams have been running away from him," Severino said. "He's also just a great kid. He's a good student who has a great voice and is big in musicals (at the school). He has a lot to offer colleges. I think he could play in the MAC or in Division II.
"He's kind of flown under the radar somehow, but we're getting film out on him and (we'll) see what happens."
Severino thinks Holton could play at the Division III level, if not Division II, if he decides to pursue that endeavor.
Through nine games, Holton had 38 receptions for 497 yards and seven touchdowns. He entered the season finale tied with Eric Arnett (2005) and Greg Morrison (2006) for the program record for touchdown receptions.
"Hunter definitely has the ability and grades and test scores to continue to play at the next level, but he's received interest from the Naval Academy and wants to run track and field, I think," Severino said. "He's got the third- or fourth-best GPA in the senior class and he's really had a great season despite getting a lot of double teams."
Severino said there are other seniors on the roster who could wind up playing in college.
Watkins Memorial entered its matchup with Lakewood looking to avoid a losing season for just the second time since it last qualified for the playoffs in 2006. The Warriors finished 6-4 in the 2010 season.
Through nine games, senior quarterback Ben Shroyer was 73-for-163 passing for 872 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions and had rushed for 205 yards and five touchdowns on 52 carries.
Junior running back Mike Ford had a team-high 482 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 97 carries and senior running back Travis Hall had rushed for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 63 carries.