A senior class featuring a pair of Division I college recruits could be vital for the hopes of the Watterson High School girls track and field team this spring.

The Eagles have about 40 athletes overall, which according to eighth-coach Sherry Yoakam is down from some recent years, but there are athletes from every grade level contributing.

On March 28, Watterson and Hartley shared the title in the 11-team Hamilton Township Booster Invitational, as both scored 107 points.

"We have a small team with a lot of young athletes," Yoakam said. "We're just trying to pull it together. I have 12 seniors."

The top returnees are seniors Sam Mikula (distance) and Michelle Lehmann (long jump, sprints), who have committed to compete for the University of Cincinnati and Ball State, respectively.

Mikula and sophomore Emily Latshaw were on the 3,200-meter relay that placed sixth (9 minutes, 47.44 seconds) in the Division I, district 2 meet last season, while Lehmann and seniors J'Niah Johnston-Reynolds, Erin Lombardi and Maddie Ogden were on the 400 relay that finished 12th (50.84) at regional.

Other key seniors include Amelia Ohlin (hurdles, long jump) and Anna Stinnett (middle distance).

Juniors Kelsi Connors (distance) and Madison Tortora (sprints) and sophomores Logan Paeglis (high jump) and Jane Porter (sprints) also are top returnees.

Megan Eberts, who can run sprints and middle-distance events, leads the freshman class.

At the Booster Invitational, Paeglis won the high jump (4 feet, 8 inches) and Mikula won the 3,200 (11:29.97).

Last season, Watterson was the CCL runner-up, scoring 121 points to finish behind Columbus School for Girls (138).

"On the girls side, we're a little young (in distance events)," said Steve Taliaferro, who is the co-head coach of the boys program and also is coaching the girls distance runners. "We've got a couple off the soccer team who are doing some good things. Sam Mikula won the (CCL title) in cross country."

Distance runners to
lead boys track team

Taliaferro is a Watterson graduate who was an assistant with the boys track and field team for 21 years.

He is heading the program with Matt McGowan, who has coached the cross country program for 28 years and is in his ninth season as boys track coach.

Watterson finished fifth (57) in the 12-team Booster Invitational behind champion Whitehall (104) as senior Ross Kuhn won the 1,600 (4:42.6).

Senior Nick Haley and juniors Nick Kuraly and Erik Placke also are strong distance runners, while juniors Shane Merklin and Tony Rogne compete in the middle-distance events.

Junior Nick DePalma leads the sprint corps.

Senior Grant Bonnell (distance), juniors Kyle Bower (hurdles, middle distance) and Kyle Simmonds (shot put, discus) and freshman Zach Kubato (hurdles) are others looking to contribute.

Last season, the Eagles placed fourth (69) in the five-team CCL meet, behind DeSales (160), St. Charles (156) and Hartley (72).

"We don't have the depth St. Charles has or the athletes DeSales has, but we'll do the best we can at the end of the season," McGowan said. "My goal is to get athletes in the best shape they can be by the end of the season. We only have 24 kids because we have such a small freshman class."

Boys tennis team
returns solid group

The boys tennis program has returned four of its top seven players from a year ago and also has more than a dozen players on its junior varsity for first-year coach Ryan Schwieterman.

A 2001 Watterson graduate who has coached for various age groups at Worthington Hills Country Club as well as Northam Park in Upper Arlington, Schwieterman took over the program last September after Will Thieman stepped down after one season. Thieman is now Upper Arlington's coach.

"We don't really have a standout No. 2 (in singles), but I think we can look to rotate guys there," Schwieterman said. "Realistically, we can finish in the .500 range again, similarly to last year. There are not any concerns with (the players) getting along or jelling. A lot of them know each other, so that helps."

Last season, Watterson finished 7-7 overall and placed second in the CCL at 3-1 behind St. Charles (4-0).

The Eagles split their first two matches to begin this season. They opened with a 5-0 league win over Ready on April 4 but lost to Dublin Scioto 4-1 on April 5.

Sophomore Chris Finissi is playing first singles.

Senior Thomas Abrams is another returning singles player, while seniors Todd Harklerode and Josh Weithman are back after losing in a quarterfinal in a Division I sectional last season.

Against Ready, Finissi was at first singles, junior Jesse Pulsinelli played second singles and Abrams was at third singles. Harklerode and Weithman played first doubles and senior Spencer Gregory and sophomore Jacob DeVendra were at second doubles as the Eagles won all five courts by a 6-0, 6-0 score.

Another player looking to contribute is sophomore Danny Kraft.

"We've got some tough matches early, which should challenge us," Schwieterman said. "St. Charles is the returning favorite in the CCL, and I'd like us to at least be second."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS TENNIS

*April 4 -- at Ready

April 5 -- at Dublin Scioto

April 10 -- at Upper Arlington

April 11 -- vs. Pickerington North

April 12 -- vs. Whetstone

*April 18 -- vs. DeSales

*April 20 -- at Hartley

*April 25 -- at St. Charles

April 26 -- vs. Westerville South

April 27 -- at Bexley

April 28 -- vs. Westerville Central

May 2 -- vs. Franklin Heights

May 3 -- at Wellington

May 4 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

May 8 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

TRACK & FIELD

March 28 -- Hamilton Township Booster Invitational

April 5 -- Northland Relays

April 8 -- Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut

April 11 -- at Whetstone

April 28 -- at Hilliard Bradley

April 26 -- Olentangy Invitational at Whetstone

April 28 -- Ranger Invitational at Hamilton Township

May 2 -- Whetstone Invitational

May 5 -- Larkin/Crosten Classic at Upper Arlington

May 8, 10 -- CCL meet at Hartley

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson baseball, girls lacrosse, softball and boys volleyball teams:

BASEBALL

April 18 -- Home vs. Johnstown

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 18 -- At Granville

SOFTBALL

April 18 -- At Olentangy

*April 19 -- At DeSales

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

April 18 -- At Delaware

*League contest