The Watkins Memorial High School girls cross country team returned three of its top runners while the boys squad turned over much of its roster.

The Watkins Memorial High School girls cross country team returned three of its top runners while the boys squad turned over much of its roster.

But the objectives remain the same, according to fourth-year coach John Jarvis.

"We set our goals based on team history and the desire of the current runners," he said. "Both teams have a long streak of qualifying for the regional championships and would like that to continue. Being a top-10 team in central Ohio is always the goal."

Both teams began the season Aug. 22 in the New Albany Classic. The girls finished third (101) of 12 teams behind champion Upper Arlington (38) and the boys were fourth (127) of 13 teams as New Albany (24) won.

Last season, the girls totaled 284 points in the Division I regional at Pickerington North to finish 12th of 16 teams as Hilliard Davidson (74) won and Dublin Coffman (82), Dublin Scioto (100) and Upper Arlington (130) also qualified for state.

In the home district 1 race, the Warriors finished third (95) behind champion Coffman (41) and Olentangy Orange (84). Also advancing to the regional from the 10-team field were Hilliard Darby (102) and Westerville North (109).

In the OCC-Capital Division meet at Hilliard Bradley, the Warriors finished second (54) behind New Albany (34). Orange (79), Bradley (84), Delaware (103), Big Walnut (172) and Mount Vernon (191) completed the scoring, as Franklin Heights did not have a full team.

Olentangy has moved to the OCC-Capital and Bradley has moved to the OCC-Cardinal.

Key returnees include senior Veda Durbin, junior Natalie Watson and sophomore Josie Woosley.

Woosley (38th place, 20 minutes, 56.3 seconds) led the Warriors at regional. Durbin was 59th (21:24.27) and Watson was 114th (23:14.26)

"I am very excited about Josie Woosley, Veda Durbin, Natalie Watson and (sophomore) Claire Snode," Jarvis said. "They put in a very good summer of training."

Jarvis said he also has been impressed by freshman Josie Cotungo.

The boys team returns only senior Luke Gamertsfelder from its regional lineup. He was 82nd (18:03.42) as the Warriors finished 10th (248) behind champion Olentangy Liberty (91). Coffman (100), Hilliard Davidson (115) and Westerville North (153) also advanced to state.

The Warriors were fourth (136) in the home district 3 race as Coffman (58), Liberty (61), Westerville North (118), Lancaster (141) and Marietta (142) also advanced to regional.

In the OCC-Capital meet, Watkins Memorial finished third (62) behind Bradley (40) and New Albany (53) and ahead of Orange (71), Delaware (152), Mount Vernon (158) and Big Walnut (203). Franklin Heights did not have a complete team.

Joining Gamertsfelder in the senior class is Mike McKean. Juniors Jared Clark, Austin Dowis, Eddie Gero, Connor Pingel and Owen Tennant also are competing for positions.

"Our team is very young this year -- almost half of our athletes on both the boys and girls teams are first-time cross country runners," Jarvis said. "We are counting on the athletes who have varsity experience to lead the way in developing our younger runners."

Jarvis said he also has been impressed by freshman Tyler Day.

"We're so young that you never know who's going to step up and make a name for themselves this season, but I'm hoping quite a few will," he said.

Girls volleyball team focusing on defense

The girls volleyball team returns five starters and hopes improved defensive play will help it overcome a lack of height.

Setter Katie Park is the lone senior for second-year coach Jennifer Lilly.

"We will be a very young team this year with only one senior in the program," Lilly said. "But their energetic spirit and youthful energy will be the strength this year."

Other returning starters are juniors Brianna Morris (5-foot-8 outside hitter) and Amanda Toth (libero) and sophomores Kendra Lancia (defensive specialist) and Shelby Seas (5-7 middle hitter).

Joining them will be juniors Monica Foutty (5-7 right-side hitter) and Mackenzie Young (5-8 right-side hitter) and sophomores Morgan Fitch (5-8 outside hitter) and Jamie Hammond (defensive specialist).

The Warriors opened Aug. 23 at Dublin Scioto.

"A concern for us this year will be our height," Lilly said. "We do not match up well with some of the schools that we will face during the season. However, the girls have been working very hard to improve their defense to make up for our vertical challenges."

The Warriors finished 5-19 overall last season, losing to fifth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 25-15, 25-20, 25-12 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The Warriors finished 2-12 in league matches. Bradley won the OCC-Capital title at 13-1, followed by Big Walnut (12-2), Mount Vernon (10-4), Olentangy Orange (7-7), Delaware and New Albany (both 6-8), the Warriors and Franklin Heights (0-14).

"The Watkins Memorial volleyball program is headed in the right direction with the brand new addition of a youth league as well as the addition of some new coaches in the middle school and high school," Lilly said.

Football team to play Athens

The football team will play its home opener Friday, Aug. 31, against Athens.

The Warriors, who opened Aug. 24 against Licking Heights, did not play Athens last season. The Bulldogs replaced Linden-McKinley on the schedule.

Watkins Memorial beat Linden 51-14 last season to start 2-0, but the Warriors won just two of their final eight games to finish 4-6.

Athens finished 10-1 last season, losing to Jackson 27-7 in the first round of the Division III, Region 12 playoffs.

It was the most points the Bulldogs allowed all season, as they outscored opponents by an average of 34.8-11.7 in their perfect regular season and were seeded second in their region.

Ryan Adams was named Division III Coach of the Year. In addition, six players earned all-state honors including linebacker Mitch Rider (first team), who is now at Ohio University.

Senior receiver/defensive back Skylar Schwarzel (special mention) is the only all-state returnee for the Bulldogs, who also expect big plays from senior receiver/defensive back Ron Napier.