The Division II state runner-up a year ago, Connor Biernat of the Wellington School boys tennis team was among the favorites to make it back to this year's state tournament.
The junior will be joined at state Friday, May 26, and Saturday, May 27, at Lindner Tennis Center in Mason by freshman teammate Trevor Ball.Video •Watch an interview with Wellington boys tennis player Connor Biernat and Trevor Ball.
For the first time in program history, the Jaguars advanced two singles players to state in the same season.
"(Ball is) one of the strongest freshmen around," coach Tommy Haddow said. "It's been good competition to help them get ready for this."
Biernat defeated Ball 6-3, 6-4 for the district championship May 20 at Upper Arlington.
The top two finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state from the district tournament, which began May 18 at Columbus Academy.
Biernat opened district by beating DeSales' Armando DiMichaelangelo 6-0, 6-0 in a quarterfinal, and then beat Academy's Drew Haffer 6-4, 6-0 in a semifinal to qualify for state.
"I've been playing pretty well," Biernat said. "The first part of the season was kind of rough for me, but I've started to put the pieces together. I wasn't too happy with losing in the state final last year, but I feel like I'm playing a lot better. I'm feeling confident with my game."
Ball, who lost to Biernat 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 for the sectional championship May 13 at Academy, had a tougher road to reach state.
He opened district by beating Caledonia River Valley's Manny Acuna 6-1, 6-1 in a quarterfinal before facing Granville senior John Purnode in a semifinal. Purnode had reached district in doubles as a freshman and had lost in district-qualifying matches in singles each of the past two seasons.
Ball rallied from a 4-3 third-set deficit against Purnode to win 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
"I felt like I was playing pretty mentally tough," Ball said. "I knew I was the underdog against (Purnode). It's pretty sweet to go (to state) as a freshman."
Also competing at district were the doubles team of juniors Ryan Young and Kolapo Dairo, who lost to Bexley's Josh Meyer and Christian Roddy 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, and the doubles team of sophomores Adam Sorrels and Anarag Reddy, who lost to Bexley's Leo Schottenstein and Mark Nudelman 7-5, 6-3 in the first round.
Fleming named girls
Danielle Fleming met with the members of the girls basketball program earlier this week after being named coach May 17.
In two seasons as Licking Heights' coach, she compiled a 29-18 record, including a program-best 15-9 mark last season.
"I saw there was an opening at Wellington and I thought it would be a place I could grow and it seemed like a pretty established athletic department," Fleming said. "It seems like they have a tight-knit community. I can't wait to just get started and get out there."
Fleming succeeds Bill Mitchin, who didn't have his contract renewed after six seasons.
Last season, the Jaguars finished 14-12 and reached a Division IV district final, where they lost to Fairfield Christian 56-18.
Wellington is joining the Mid-State League for the 2017-18 season and will compete in the Cardinal Division.
Fleming, a 2007 Hamilton Township graduate, was an assistant at Licking Heights for three seasons before being promoted to head coach. She graduated from Ohio Christian University and recently earned a master's degree.
Fleming's husband of seven years, Daron Fleming, will be among her assistant coaches.
"After meeting with several candidates, and seeking input from our interview committee, it became evident that coach Fleming would be a wonderful addition to our staff," athletics director Lindsey Smith said in a letter to members of the girls basketball program. "She hopes to bring a sense of pride to the Wellington girls basketball community built off of character, competition and commitment."
Girls lacrosse team
ousted by Vikings
The ninth-seeded girls lacrosse team rallied from a late deficit to beat eighth-seeded Middletown Fenwick 10-9 in the second round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 18.
The Jaguars then lost 17-6 at second-seeded Columbus Academy in a regional quarterfinal May 20 to finish 4-10.
Wellington, which also lost to Academy 16-1 on April 19, trailed Fenwick 9-8 with three minutes remaining, but scored two late goals to pull out the victory. Nia Gill led the Jaguars with nine goals.
The contest marked the Jaguars' first postseason victory since 2011.
Boys lacrosse team
falls to Stallions
The boys lacrosse team's season ended with an 18-2 loss to second-seeded DeSales in the second round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 16.
The 15th-seeded Jaguars finished 2-11.
"The 2017 senior class has gone through four coaches in the last four years, and it's hard to build a solid foundation of a program when you have so much inconsistency in leadership," first-year coach Eric Fraser said. "This season was tough from a win-loss perspective, but the boys played really hard all year. We've got a really young team and I'm excited to see how they develop in the coming years. The team was fragmented at the start of the year and became a family by the end. That's all I could ask of them."
The Jaguars are losing five seniors, led by attacker Sam Kim, goalkeeper James Rohrbach and midfielder J.T. Seitz.
Sophomore midfielder Katz Kadlic and sophomore attacker Trevor Seitz led the offense. Seitz had four goals May 12 as the Jaguars closed the regular season with a 10-6 victory over Xenia.
Wellington posted its other win against Jonathan Alder, 8-5 on April 12.
Also eligible to return are junior Hale Edwards (midfielder), sophomores David Lynn (midfielder) and Evan Scott (midfielder) and freshmen Evan Adiansingh (attacker), Andre Arman (defender), Todd Bainbridge (attacker), Will Humphreys (defender), Nate Hill (defender), Nicos Hill (defender), Zeke Lloyd (midfielder) and Kyle Tocci (goalie).
"Katz Kadlic was a consistent playmaker at midfielder all year, and Trevor Seitz had a breakout game in our last regular-season game," Fraser said. "They could be really special players if they continue to work hard at it. Defensively, we had three freshmen (Arman, Hill and Humphreys) starting this year."
baseball team hope
Baseball coach Craig Jones is optimistic that his team can bounce back next season because of a large group of sophomores.
Andrew Haraburda (P/OF), Ian Frim (CF), Trevor McCraw (C/P), Ryan Ouellette (P/INF) and William Roy (INF/DH) all were members of that class for the Jaguars, who finished 4-14.
Wellington was seeded 15th in the Division IV district tournament but nearly upset fifth-seeded and eventual district champion Danville before losing 4-3 in a second-round game May 11.
"We're expecting next year's junior class to have a strong season and play a significant role as we enter our first year in the (MSL-Cardinal)," Jones said.
McCraw batted .378 with a team-best 12 RBI and was 1-3 with a team-best 3.91 ERA on the mound. Ouellette had nine RBI and was 2-4 on the mound.
The Jaguars' top hitters were seniors Teddy Knowles (INF/OF), who batted .451 with 11 RBI, and Ngozi Pinkson (3B/P/INF), who hit .380.
Other key players included senior Adam Porter (1B/OF/P), juniors Malcolm Banks (OF/utility) and Max Wing (OF/C/P) and freshman Josh Wooddell (INF/P).
Most of softball
team set to return
The softball team is losing just two seniors in catcher Bret Hairston and pitcher Cassie Robbins after finishing 8-7.
The Jaguars were seeded ninth in the Division IV district tournament and lost to 12th-seeded Gahanna Christian 12-11 in eight innings May 9 in a first-round game.
Junior Jakaysha Williams (LF) and sophomores Camille Simpson (P/1B) and Soleil Tibbets-Barnes (CF) are among the expected key returnees for Wellington, which had 26 players in its program this season, including 23 freshmen and sophomores.