Josie Woosley and Andrew Jordan turned in solid performances as they represented the Watkins Memorial High School cross country program in the Division I state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
Woosley, a junior, placed 21st (19 minutes, .97 seconds) of 154 runners in the girls race, earning all-state honors for finishing in the top 25. She had finished 97th (19:46.23) in her first state appearance last season.
Jordan, a sophomore, finished 35th (16:12.21) of 145 runners in the boys race.
Woosley would have finished higher if not for falling about 15 yards from the finish line.
"She was flying at the very end of the race and was 13th when she fell with nearly five meters left," coach John Jarvis said. "It was unfortunate that a pack passed her, but it was fortunate that she was able to get up and finish and still make all-Ohio.
"She obviously was disappointed because the top 16 make podium, but being all-Ohio makes it easier to swallow. She learned that she belongs among the top runners in the state, which is a big thing for her. Plus, the fall at the finish will keep her motivated for the next full year."
Annie Heffernan of Cincinnati St. Ursula won the state title in 18:13.9.
Woosley finished 15th (19:38.72) of 123 runners at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North, as the top 16 runners advanced to state.
"She went from 15th in the regional to 21st in the state and nearly was 13th at state," Jarvis said. "That shows you how much she struggled (at regional)."
Jordan had qualified for state by placing 16th (16:17.9) of 122 runners at regional.
"Being a sophomore running varsity for the first time, he learned a lot by running as an individual in the regional and state (meets)," Jarvis said. "It's a totally different thing to warm up and prepare to run by yourself. His race strategy was a good one. He was 80th at the first mile and just kept moving up. His third mile was fantastic. Along the way, he beat some guys who beat him in the regional, so it was just a great learning experience for him. He was seven seconds away from being all-Ohio."
Boardman's Mark Hadley won the state title in 15:10.63 and Pickerington North's Zach Zimmerman secured the final all-state spot in 16:05.34.
Woosley was joined at regional by her teammates. The girls team finished 11th (261 points) of 16 teams, with Gahanna (90), Upper Arlington (104), Hilliard Davidson (118) and Thomas Worthington (143) advancing to state.
Also 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).
The girls team qualified for regional by placing fourth (121) in its home district 3 meet Oct. 19 behind UA (64), Dublin Jerome (112) and New Albany (114), as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced.
Woosley led the Warriors, finishing fifth (19:21.2) of 120 runners, and Hyme placed 13th (19:54.18). Also competing were Schoenberger (23rd, 20:18.02), Watson (31st, 20:51.46), Snode (49th, 21:16.72), Miller (65th, 22:05.09) and Cotugno (66th, 22:12.73).
Watkins Memorial placed second (45) in the LCL meet Oct. 12 at home, behind Granville (29) and ahead of Newark Catholic (89), Licking Valley (130), Johnstown (143), Heath (144), Licking Heights (182) and Lakewood (194).
Northridge and Utica did not have enough runners for a team score.
Woosley won the league title, finishing first (18:45.37) of 61 runners. Schoenberger (fifth, 19:53.78) and Hyme (eighth, 20:33.35) also placed in the top 10.
"With six of our top seven returning and a few freshmen coming into the mix next season, the future looks pretty exciting," Jarvis said of the girls team. "We will miss Natalie because she was the one who kept the girls from getting too tense. She keeps them focused, but she also will make them laugh and ease the tensions."
Jordan was the only member of the boys team to reach regional. He finished eighth (16:33.87) of 102 runners in the district 2 meet, as the top five teams and top 20 individuals qualified for the regional.
The Warriors finished seventh (159) at district behind champion Jerome (23) as 14 teams scored, with Westerville South (129) securing the final qualifying spot. Also competing were senior Jordan Rice (27th, 17:15.65), sophomore Tyler Day (38th, 17:36.3), seniors Jared Clark (39th, 17:37.5) and Owen Tennant (47th, 17:52.64) and freshmen Jacob Gero (49th, 17:55.94) and Gerrick Brewer (55th, 18:06.28).
Watkins Memorial placed second (45) in the league meet, behind Granville (36) and ahead of Newark Catholic (86), Lakewood (113), Licking Valley (144), Licking Heights (149), Johnstown (163) and Heath (239).
Northridge and Utica did not have enough runners for a team score.
"We're losing three of our top seven (to graduation) who helped us take our training to the next level," Jarvis said. "We did rotate 10 people in the lineup throughout the season, so we'll have some experience coming back with Andrew leading the way."
Football team closes season with victory
The football team closed out the season with a 42-14 win over Lakewood on Nov. 1 at home to finish 5-5 overall and 1-3 in the LCL-Big School Division.
Watkins Memorial avoided finishing with a losing record for the six time in the last seven seasons since going 10-2 and reaching the second round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs in 2006. The Warriors went 6-4 in 2010 but finished 4-6 in 2007, 2008 and 2011 and 2-8 in 2009 and 2012.
"I think our first year in the LCL was pretty decent," coach Jeff Severino said. "We played some smaller schools than we did in the OCC, but some of those teams are just as tough. The difference I noticed is that the LCL has more schools like us, where we're using a lot of guys going both ways. You don't get that in the OCC because they have greater depth."
Watkins Memorial finished fourth in the LCL-Big School, behind Granville, Licking Heights and Licking Valley, all of which went 3-1 to share the league title. Lakewood (0-4) was fifth.
"I think the best we played all season was against Mifflin (a 26-12 win on Sept. 13)," Severino said. "We played well at times in other games, but never for an entire game against the better teams we faced. We showed signs, like against Newark Catholic (a 34-14 loss on Sept. 27) when we fought back from an early deficit and started to believe. But then we gave up a big play and didn't finish well.
"That's the one thing we need to do with this program. We have to teach them how to handle adversity. Every team faces adversity in a season and everyone faces it in life. We need to respond better, learn to handle the stress. We've worked on that in practices and in the weight room, but it's not showing up on Friday nights."
Against Lakewood, senior quarterback Ben Shroyer and senior Hunter Holton connected for a pair of touchdown passes (36 and 31 yards), junior Mike Ford scored on a 47-yard run, senior Isaac Morrison returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown and ran for a 15-yard score and senior Travis Hall scored on an 8-year run.
Shroyer completed eight of 11 passes for 169 yards, Holton had six catches for 140 yards, Hall rushed for 89 yards on 17 carries and Ford ran for 63 yards on six carries.
The Warriors lose 22 seniors, including Hall (RB/LB), Holton (WR/DB), Morrison (WR), Shroyer, Kyle Hickin (OL/DL), Shawn Johnson (DL), Preston Jenkins (OL/DL), Zach Lescalleet (DB), Corbin Lindabury (LB), Jerrod Lyon (K), Isaac O'Brien (LB), Clay Sammons (OL) and Patrick Thompson (OL).
"We'll only have one returning starter on the offensive line," Severino said. "We lose four starters there in Hickin, Sammons, Thompson and Preston Jenkins, as well as Joe Pernell and Simon Ponce who shared starts up front, too. Plus, (we're losing) our quarterback and top receivers.
"We also lose a tremendous linebacking corps with Lindabury, O'Brien and Hall and a lot of our defensive front. We do have a big sophomore class with size and I think we can fill spots on the offensive and defensive lines."
Holton set a program record for touchdown receptions in a season with nine, breaking the previous mark of seven shared by Eric Arnett (2005) and Greg Morrison (2006). He finished the season with 44 catches for 637 yards.
Shroyer was 56-for-174 passing for 1,041 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushed for 217 yards and five touchdowns on 81 carries, and Hall had 377 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 80 carries.
Lindabury led the team in tackles with 78 and Lescalleet had a team-high five interceptions.
"We're pretty stringent in our tackle charts because we don't add on when guys jump on a pile late," Severino said. "Hickin had 39, but teams always ran away from him. Most of his tackles were chasing the ball carrier down from behind on the line of scrimmage."
Hickin and Holton were named first-team all-league. Lescalleet and Lindabury were second-team all-league and Morrison was honorable mention all-league.
Lyon converted all 30 extra-point attempts and made five field goals this season.
Among those expected to return are Ford (RB/SS), junior Nathan Miller (DE) and sophomores Kaleb Goad (RB), Corey Hare (FB/LB/K), Terrial Hitchings (FB), Zach Jenkins (OL), Jack May (OL), Cole Music (RB) and David Stein (OL).
Ford, who rushed for 545 yards and six touchdowns on 107 carries this season, could move to quarterback next year, Severino said.