Unlike last season in the Division I state tournament, Erin Harper of the Watterson High School girls golf team maintained her composure from start to finish to become the first player from her program to win a state championship.
The junior carded a 71 in the first round Oct. 18 at Ohio State's Gray Course and held a two-stroke lead. She began to feel anxious after she found herself 2-over par through three holes in the second round Oct. 19, but she made a 6-foot putt for par on the fourth hole and went on to shoot 74 for the round.
Harper ended the 36-hole, 72-player tournament with a 145, finishing two strokes ahead of the runner-up, Massillon Jackson's Cassie Pantelas (147).
Last season in her first state appearance, Harper shot an 81 in the first round and a 77 in the second to tie for 19th with a 158 total. She said nerves got the better of her in the first round a year ago and, consequently, "psyched myself out."
"I've been working hard for this for so long that it almost doesn't feel real," Harper said of winning the state title. "It was freezing here (Oct. 19). I could see my breath on a couple of holes and I couldn't even feel my hands on the last couple of holes, so I just trusted my swing and did my best.
"I played really well the first day, but I psyched myself out the first three holes (Oct. 19). I was able to make a miraculous putt to save par on the fourth hole and that turned my round around and helped me find my game again. After that, everything fell into place."
Coach Rick McQuade was impressed by Harper's performance in the second round with wet and chilly conditions.
"The weather is so bad that I don't know how anybody was able to play well here (Oct. 19)," McQuade said. "Erin left a bunch of shots out there, but she was tough enough to keep battling through the elements with the pressure of playing for first place. Erin's just so consistent. She was medalist (12) times this season and she shot 6-under par for the year."
Watterson won all four rounds of the MOGGL tournament to finish as the Division I league champion with a 20-0 record.
The Eagles were runners-up (343) in the 11-team sectional Oct. 1 at Mentel Memorial behind Dublin Coffman (302) and finished third in the nine-team district Oct. 8 at The Links at Groveport behind state-qualifiers Coffman (300) and Dublin Jerome (308).
Harper secured the second of two individual state-qualifying berths with a 72). Also competing were freshman Abigail Meyers (93), junior Avery Wakefield (93), junior Ellie Kairis (103) and senior Anna Kairis (109).
"We had a good year and we have three solid players coming back, so we've got a shot at being a better team next year if they all work on their games," McQuade said.
Ghidotti falls in state tennis final
Senior Lauren Ghidotti of the girls tennis team went 3-1 and placed second in the Division I state tournament held Oct. 18 at Ohio State and Oct. 19 at Elysium Tennis Center.
She opened with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 victory over Mayfield's Jamie Vizelman and defeated Lodi Cloverleaf's Emily Dunbar 6-4, 6-3 in the second round.
"The first match always has nerves, but both of my opponents played well," said Ghidotti, a four-time state qualifier who was making her first appearance in singles. "I thought it was about me executing and sticking to my game plan.
"I hit my forehand well, which always helps."
Ghidotti, who teamed with 2013 graduate Katie Shepherd to place third at state last year in doubles, beat Jerome's Elle Bullock 6-2, 7-5 in a semifinal before losing to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy's Mehvish Safdar 6-1, 6-3 in the final.
Ghidotti declined to be interviewed after the loss.
Also at state, senior Courtney Brown lost to Massillon Jackson's Tessa Hill 6-0, 6-4 in the first round in singles.
Two girls runners advance to regional
The girls cross country team will be represented in the Division I regional meet Saturday, Oct. 26, at Pickerington North by junior Jessica Passwater and sophomore Meghan Connors.
Watterson finished sixth (175 points) in the 14-team district 2 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Gahanna (39). Canal Winchester (164) secured the fifth and final regional-qualifying spot.
Passwater led the Eagles, placing 13th in 20 minutes, 4.89 seconds, and Connors finished 16th (20:11.65), as the top 20 individuals advanced to regional.
Also scoring were sophomore Clare Aman (44th, 21:13.18), freshman Jeanette Pfeiffer (51st, 21:37.18) and senior Abbie McClelland (54th, 21:45.43).
The top 20 individuals at regional advance to state Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
"Jessica and Meghan ran great races," coach Matt McGowan said. "Whenever you can run a personal-best (time) and advance to the next level, you have to be happy."
The boys team ended its season in the 16-team district 3 meet, finishing 10th (332) behind champion Lancaster (36) as the top six teams advanced to regional.
Scoring for the Eagles were freshman Nick Haley (49th, 18:04.43), sophomore Max McClelland (60th, 18:10.64), senior Mark Guza (64th, 18:12.57), senior Michael Guza (67th, 18:18.3) and senior Danny Lucia (93rd, 19:27.6).
The top 24 individuals advanced to regional.
Girls soccer team wins tourney opener
The girls soccer team opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 17 with a 2-0 win over 17th-seeded Upper Arlington in the second round at Hagely Field.
Watterson, which is seeded sixth and had a first-round bye, improved to 10-2-4 and played 13th-seeded Westerville South in a district semifinal Oct. 23.
"We're a team that likes to keep the ball and play as technically as possible, but we played on a small, wet field against a team that plays with a defensive mindset, so we had to hit it forward more than we normally do," coach Alyx Portier said. "UA's an organized team and they packed it in defensively, but I thought we did a nice job of getting behind them."
Center midfielder Ellie Gantz and her younger sister, forward Emily Gantz, scored and goalkeeper Marissa Wierzbicki had three saves against UA.
"My goal was on a set piece," Ellie Gantz said. "It was a tough angle, so I just put it on frame and it went in. This means everything to us because we want to keep winning and playing together."
The semifinal winner faces fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26. The district champion will advance to a regional semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Jerome, where it will play Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy, Westerville Central or Worthington Kilbourne.
Watterson was a district finalist last season.
"We want to go further than we did last year," forward Erin Adams said. "We just need to play for each other and play as a team."
Boys soccer team reaches semifinal
The boys soccer team opened the Division II district tournament Oct. 17 at home with a 5-0 win over 16th-seeded Buckeye Valley.
The top-seeded Eagles, who had a first-round bye, extended their winning streak to six games and were 13-4 before playing host to ninth-seeded Hartley in a district semifinal Oct. 22.
Midfielder Brad Kanney had two goals, forwards Sam Magee and Mitchell Nation and midfielder Matt Adams each scored one and goalie Trevor Funk had one save.
"This was a nice way to open the tournament," coach Chad Smith said. "We stayed composed and play real well across the board to earn the shutout. We scored quality goals, instead of garbage goals. Sam and Mitchell were hungry for goals coming into this game, and I'm hoping scoring here is going to help get them going."
The semifinal winner faces second-seeded DeSales or eighth-seeded Heath in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Westerville North. Watterson beat DeSales 1-0 on Sept. 24 behind a goal by midfielder Paul Mokrzan.
"We'll likely see DeSales again in the district final, and that game will be huge because they are the No. 2 seed in our district and our biggest rival," Smith said. "We need to make sure the moment never gets too big for us and just stay focused on our play."
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 30, at a site to be determined. The possible opponents are Chillicothe Unioto, Fairfield Union, Marietta or Vincent Warren.
Last year, Watterson won a district championship before losing to Cincinnati Indian Hill 1-0 in a regional semifinal.
Field hockey team reaches semifinal
The field hockey team won its first two games in the district tournament.
Seeded sixth, Watterson beat 11th-seeded New Albany 6-0 in a play-in game Oct. 15 at home, as attacker Grace Thomas had two goals, attackers Leah Delp, Amy Griffith and Shannon Maloney and defender Maria Swearingen each scored one and goalie Bridget Wagy had one save.
The Eagles then defeated fifth-seeded Coffman 2-1 in the first round Oct. 17 behind goals by Maloney and attacker Margaret McGowan.
Watterson was 11-6-1 before playing third-seeded Bexley in a district semifinal Oct. 22. The winner faces second-seeded Columbus Academy or ninth-seeded Kilbourne in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Jerome.
The district champion advances to a state semifinal Nov. 1 at Upper Arlington.
Watterson was state runner-up last year, losing to Academy 2-1 in double overtime in the state final.
Football team gets set for Cardinals
The football team will be looking to earn a share of the CCL-Silver Division title and boost its playoff hopes when it plays host to St. Charles on Friday, Oct. 25.
Watterson, which has lost two in a row, is 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the CCL-Silver and is coming off a 13-3 league loss to DeSales on Oct. 18. St. Charles is 6-2 and 1-0, having beaten DeSales 36-0 on Oct. 4, and has won four in a row.
Watterson was expected to be 10th in the Division IV, Region 13 computer ratings released Oct. 22 by the OHSAA. The top eight teams in the region qualify for the playoffs.
"We have to get ready and try to get better," coach Dan Bjelac said. "I think our kids will come back and battle."
Watterson is averaging 10.1 points and scored its only points against DeSales on a 21-yard, second-quarter field goal by Michael Harper. The Eagles had just 103 yards rushing on 33 carries.
Running back Walter Green ran 11 times for 61 yards and quarterback Sam Maglicic was 6-for-17 passing for 50 yards.
In St. Charles' 37-15 win over Kings Mills Kings on Oct. 18, running back NiQuille Bell rushed 20 times for 160 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Ryan Bailey ran for a touchdown and threw to wide receiver Ben Hale for a score.
Watterson has beaten the Cardinals 11 of the last 12 meetings, including 21-17 last year. The Cardinals' lone win during that stretch came in 2011 (23-13).
Volleyball team falls in district opener
Seeded 18th, the girls volleyball team lost to ninth-seeded Davidson 25-18, 25-17, 25-20 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 17.
Watterson, which had a first-round bye, finished 10-14.