The Watterson High School boys cross country team is taking advantage of its drop from Division I to Division II this fall by breaking a long drought.
The Eagles totaled 274 points in the 22-team regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North to place sixth behind champion Thornville Sheridan (58). The top seven teams and top 28 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 4, at National Trail Raceway.
According to the OHSAA, the Eagles will be making their first state appearance as a team since 1981.
"It'll be my first time at state, and we were able to do it as a team, so I'm excited," senior Nick Kuraly said.
Kuraly placed 12th (16 minutes, 48.67 seconds) at regional to lead the Eagles. He was followed by seniors Shane Merklin (54th, 17:33.74), Patrick Monnin (82nd, 17:59.77), Matthew Hartel (88th, 18:03.08), Danny Callaghan (114th, 18:26.57) and Matthew Lamb (122nd, 18:34.89) and freshman Will Garey (136th, 18:50.88).
"It's been tough for our boys being in Division I," coach Matt McGowan said. "We've got six seniors, but only three of them have been out for all four years. It's great to qualify for the state. You're going to remember for the rest of your life if you go to the state meet."
Field hockey team falls in district final
The fifth-seeded field hockey team had its season end with a 5-0 loss to top-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district final Oct. 28 at Olentangy Liberty.
The Eagles, who upset third-seeded Granville 2-0 on Oct. 24 in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at New Albany after beating 13th-seeded Columbus School for Girls 2-0 in the first round Oct. 19, finished 10-9 overall.
"I think we proved everyone wrong," senior left winger Lillee Fernandes said after her team's win over Granville. "We're a young team and we all came together."
Fernandes, who missed half of her junior season with an injury, scored off a pass from senior center midfielder Francesca Passen with 15:55 left in the first half against Granville. Sophomore attacker Emily Dixon scored the second goal off a pass from Passen with 8:22 to go in the second half as the Eagles avenged a 2-0 loss to the Blue Aces on Aug. 31.
Watterson was outshot 18-3 by two-time defending state champion Thomas.
The Eagles finished third in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division at 6-2, behind Granville (8-0) and Columbus Academy (7-1) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (5-3), Bexley (4-4), New Albany (2-5-1), CSG (1-5-2), Hartley (1-6-1) and Lancaster (0-8).
"We definitely had a lot of respect for Granville," coach Janet Baird said. "We were in some really tough games this year and it feels really good (to make a district final)."
Others eligible to return include juniors Lexi Igoe (attacker), Jessica Joseph (midfielder) and Bella Pardi (defender).
Football team loses to Stallions
The football team completed its season with a 41-7 loss to DeSales on Oct. 27.
The Eagles tied the game at 7 with an 8-yard touchdown run by Nick DePalma with 5:20 left in the first quarter, but DeSales scored 28 second-quarter points to take control. The Stallions added another touchdown with 2:50 left in the third quarter to trigger a running clock.
Watterson finished 2-8 overall and 1-2 in the CCL, third behind Hartley (3-0) and DeSales (2-1) and ahead of St. Charles (0-3). The Eagles have endured five losing seasons in the last seven years since winning the Division III state title in 2010.
Against DeSales, quarterback Cole Andrews completed 21 of 32 passes for 167 yards, DePalma had five catches for 41 yards, Charlie Spencer had five receptions for 37 yards and Nate Meyer added four catches for 23 yards.
Watterson committed four turnovers, including a fumble that was returned 37 yards for a touchdown.
Season ends for volleyball team
The 10th-seeded girls volleyball team lost to seventh-seeded Gahanna 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 26 at Whitehall to finish 15-9 overall.
The Eagles had opened the tournament with a 25-7, 25-7, 25-22 win over 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg on Oct. 19.
"Against Gahanna, we did not play our best and Gahanna played well," first-year coach Stephanie Grieshop said. "Although we ended with a disappointing loss, the season was great."
The Eagles are losing six seniors in Callie Cloran (defensive specialist), Sam Goad (outside hitter), Karlyn Hannewald (outside hitter), Sarah Puthoff (middle hitter), Maggie Simone (defensive specialist) and Josie Vondran (setter).
Hannewald led the team in kills (246), Cloran was second in digs (217) and serves received (354) and Vondran led in assists (586).
Four starters are eligible to return in juniors Grace Jenkins (outside hitter) and Kari Mercer (defensive specialist) and freshmen Olyvia Kennedy (right-side hitter) and Sydney Taylor (libero).
Juniors Kate Griffin (outside hitter/setter) and Veronica Merkle (setter) and freshmen Gina Grden (outside hitter) and Margo Lawson (defensive specialist) also are eligible to return.
Taylor led the team in serves received (361) and digs (331), Jenkins was second in kills (181) and Kennedy was third in kills (163).
The Eagles' junior varsity team went 17-4, while its freshman team went 19-3.
"We had some big wins and got to see the girls grow on and off the court," Grieshop said. "Our work ethic improved and our chemistry was great. ... We're very excited for our future."
Girls soccer team falls in district semi
The 15th-seeded girls soccer team lost to third-seeded Gahanna 1-0 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24 to finish 8-8-3 overall.
The Eagles opened the postseason with a 9-0 win over 37th-seeded Licking Heights on Oct. 16 at home and beat 22nd-seeded Westerville South 6-0 in the second round Oct. 19 at home before falling to the host Lions.
"I felt like we certainly created plenty of opportunities to score (against Gahanna)," coach Scott Dempsey, who completed his first season with the Eagles after previous tenures at Bexley and Hartley. "We just weren't able to put one in the net. But I couldn't be prouder of the way (the players) competed."
Watterson went 3-1 in the CCL to place second, behind DeSales (3-0-1) and ahead of Hartley (2-2), CSG (1-2-1) and Ready (0-4).
The Eagles are losing 12 seniors, including Betsy Gaby (defender), Brigid O'Brien (defender), Maura Pirrman (defender) and Olivia Rotolo (forward).
According to Dempsey, junior Becca Marino (forward) was the team's top scorer and junior Sammy Francis (forward) and sophomore Isabella Ginocchi (midfielder) were among the team leaders in assists.
Junior Elizabeth D'Sa (forward) and sophomores Renee Padavick (goalkeeper), Rachel Weaver (midfielder) and Paige Woodford (forward) were other key players.