The Watterson High School boys track and field team spent extra time focusing on strength and conditioning training early in the season to prepare for the postseason.

The Watterson High School boys track and field team spent extra time focusing on strength and conditioning training early in the season to prepare for the postseason.

That decision paid dividends for the Eagles at the Division II, district 1 meet that concluded May 21 at Hamilton Township, as they scored 74.5 points to place fifth of 14 teams, behind champion Caledonia River Valley (104.5).

The Eagles won four events, including the 400-meter relay (43.75 seconds) of Alex Matacia, Cody Calhoun, Jimmy Gallagher and Erik Oman.

Joe Mankovecky won the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 10 inches in the rain. Oman won the 200 (22.53) and Matt Richardson won the 1,600 (4:42.11).

Also advancing to the regional meet Thursday, May 26, and Saturday, May 28, at Lexington were Oman in the 100 (second, 11.29), Zak Lackey in the 1,600 (third, 4:45.73) and Richardson, Trevin Pitroff, Dominic Smith and Lackey in the 3,200 relay (third, 8:38.74).

The top four finishers in each event at district qualified for regional.

"This was one of our best district performances in the 20 years I've been here," coach Matt McGowan said. "We hadn't had a district champion since Tim Poirier won the long jump in 2002, and we had four district champions for the first time that I can remember. Some of that success is because we did more running and conditioning in March to get stronger for this meet. The kids have a good work ethic and it's paying off for them."

Last year, Watterson scored three points at regional to tie Marion Pleasant and Utica for 32nd, behind champion Peninsula Woodbridge (65). Mankovecky scored the Eagles' points by placing sixth in the high jump (6-2).

The top four finishers in each regional event advance to the state meet June 3-4 at Ohio State.

"Our goals are to get the kids to the regional finals, and to get someone to the state meet for the first time since 2000," McGowan said. "Joe will probably have to jump 6-2 or 6-4 in good weather to qualify for state. But Joe's already jumped 6-3 this season, and his volleyball season just ended, so I think he'll be more fresh for regional. Our 400 relay has a decent shot at state, too. It's all down to how good their handoffs are."

The girls team scored 14 points in the 13-team Division I, district 4 meet that concluded May 21 at Hamilton Township to place 11th, behind champion Hilliard Davidson (110).

None of the Eagles placed in the top four to qualify for regional.

•Senior Chris Diaz and 2009 graduate Philip Diaz of the boys tennis team captured the Division I state doubles title in 2008 and were favored to defend their championship the following season but ended up placing second.

Chris Diaz won the Division II state singles championship last year, beating Cincinnati Country Day's Alex Fritz 6-3, 6-2 in the final, and is favored to defend his title in the state tournament Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28, at Hilliard Davidson.

With memories of his past state tournament experiences, the Ohio State recruit is determined not to let history repeat itself.

"I remember what it felt like to win state with my brother and to lose there the next year, and so I'm motivated to not let what happened in doubles happen again in singles," Diaz said. "To end my career with a state championship would be awesome, but I know from experience that it won't be easy. There's a little more pressure and it's a little harder when you're trying to defend your title."

Diaz went 3-0 in the district tournament May 20-21 at Columbus Academy to win his fourth district title. Entering this week, he had an 87-1 career record in singles matches and had won a program-record 87 consecutive singles matches.

Diaz beat Wellington's Ian Wagner 6-1, 6-0 in the district final.

"Ian plays really aggressive, he goes for a lot of winners and comes to the net to finish shots," he said. "I just try to be consistent when I play him because he's tough. Playing Ian is definitely great practice for the state because he's one of the best players in the state."

Diaz said the key to winning the state title is to maintain his focus, even after he misses shots or makes mistakes.

"I need to stay level-headed," he said. "I need to stay focused and play as hard as I can every point. I'm going to try to have fun and do my best not to get worked up when something goes wrong."

Also at district, the doubles team of Aaron Casares and Jared Clifton went 1-1. Only the top two district placers in singles and doubles qualified for state.

Watterson beat Thomas Worthington 3-2 on May 18 and was 13-9 overall after losing to Bexley 3-2 in an OTCA Division II district final on May 23.