The Watkins Memorial High School boys cross country team has returned half of the dynamic duo who helped lead it to a sixth-place finish in the Division I state meet a year ago.

The Watkins Memorial High School boys cross country team has returned half of the dynamic duo who helped lead it to a sixth-place finish in the Division I state meet a year ago.

Senior Daniel White is back after earning all-state honors by finishing 16th (15 minutes, 40.4 seconds) at state. Also returning are classmates Gerald Brewer and Jacob Gero, who were in the lineup at state, and sophomore Bryce Small.

The Warriors lost three of their top four runners from last year to graduation in Andrew Jordan, Erik McKean and Tyler Day. Jordan placed third at state as a junior before winning the state title last year in a National Trail Raceway course-record 14:54. He is now competing in cross country and track at Iowa State.

"Our goal is to be one of the top teams in central Ohio again," eighth-year coach John Jarvis said. "We have great leadership in our returning athletes. We will have some people new to the varsity team who will need to run at a new, higher level.

"Daniel White is one of the top returning runners in the state. He had a fantastic junior season and is looking to be among the top runners in the state. He is a great leader for our younger runners."

Completing the roster are seniors David Daw, Brad Day and Quinn Kissell and juniors Drake Doersam and Jeremy McIntire.

The Warriors were the top central Ohio finisher at state last year. Competing at state for the first time since 1999, they placed sixth (198 points) of 16 teams, behind champion Cleveland St. Ignatius (66), after winning (113) their first Division I regional title by edging runner-up Thomas Worthington (116) at Pickerington North.

White placed third (15:42.2) at regional, second (15:56.92) in the home district 2 meet and second (15:33.55) in the LCL-Buckeye Division meet, with Jordan finishing first in all three meets.

"Daniel is taking the torch, but Jacob put in a great summer and is ready for a big year and Bryce had an outstanding track season and is looking to continue to grow into his role," Jarvis said. "Gerald has a ton of experience at the highest levels of cross country and track, and he brings a lot of leadership to our team."

The boys and girls teams opened Aug. 27 in the Panther Classic at Pickerington North.

The girls team has returned its top three runners and two other runners who were in the lineup last season when the Warriors qualified for state for the first time since 1997 and finished 11th (248) behind champion Centerville (71).

The returnees are seniors Samantha Hyme, Raechal Shoenberger and Hastings Marek, junior Chloe Cortes and sophomore Andrea Kuhn.

Hyme (45th, 19:10.5) and Kuhn (46th, 19:11.4) led the Warriors at state, while Schoenberger was 80th (19:50.2).

"Samantha is a two-time state qualifier who has the fastest time ever for a Watkins runner," Jarvis said. "She is coming off an injury from track last year and excited to work her way into racing again. Andrea qualified for state in both cross country and track as a freshman and is looking forward to competing against the top girls in the state.

"Raechal, Hastings and Chloe have state meet experience and bring a strong sense of leadership to the team. We've got a strong front-runner and tight pack and we want to be one of the top teams in not only central Ohio, but in the state. We've got experience and are looking to improve upon last year's 11th place (state) finish."

Completing the roster are seniors Lindsey Finnegan and Lauren Miller and junior Hayley Woosley.

Last year, the Warriors finished third (104) at regional, first (40) in the 18-team district 3 meet and second (30) in the LCL-Buckeye meet behind Granville (26).

Girls volleyball team relying on experience

The girls volleyball team has returned five starters from last season, when it finished 8-15 overall and 4-9 in the LCL-Buckeye.

Seniors Conley Day (middle hitter) and Kacie Klinglesmith (outside hitter/defensive specialist), juniors Carly Brandon (libero) and Margaret Musselman (setter/opposite hitter) and sophomore Brookly Banish (defensive specialist/setter) are back.

Klinglesmith was named second-team all-league and Musselman was honorable mention all-league last season.

Other returning letterwinners are senior Trisha Kleinline (middle hitter) and junior Kelsey Seas (outside hitter/defensive specialist).

"Those seven returnees and (sophomore) Taylor Looney, who plays on the right side, are the eight currently in our rotation," said third-year coach Kyle McFerin, whose team defeated Franklin Heights 25-7, 25-10, 25-11 in its opener Aug. 20 and played Utica in its league opener Aug. 25. "This team has bonded much better than the past. They are all very supportive of each other and understand the value of each role."

Completing the roster are juniors Ashleigh Brettell (defensive specialist ), Megan Dorsey (middle hitter), Wayana Moore (defensive specialist/right-side hitter) and Ally Starkey (outside hitter) and freshman Jill Hollett (setter).

"We can be very consistent at all phases of the game," McFerin said. "Having experience returning at passing, setting and hitting allows that. We want to compete for a league title. To do that, we need to play with a purpose and understand what we are trying to do as a team. Whatever the situation is, we need to remain confident and have positive energy."

Football team getting set for talented Scots

The last time the football team met Walnut Ridge, bad weather postponed the game for a day and forced a Saturday morning contest. The Warriors were sluggish on offense in that 2009 matchup and lost 13-7.

Even though it has been seven years since their last meeting, Warriors coach Jeff Severino said the teams are still familiar with each other as they prepare for their contest Friday, Sept. 2, at Watkins Memorial.

"We've been scrimmaging them every year and we saw them scrimmage Zanesville this year," Severino said. "On offense, they run some spread and some I-formation. They've got some real nice athletes, but not a lot of them.

"But I don't think we can try to wear them down because they actually have better size than we do. It's going to be a tough game and we're going to have to come off the ball and get into them."

The Scots finished 7-3 last year but lost first-team all- district quarterback and defensive back Malik Harrison, who is now playing for Ohio State. Sophomore Isaiah Murphy has taken over and is protected by an experienced offensive line, but the Scots' top three receivers from last season graduated.

Andre Franklin is expected to be Walnut Ridge's top running back.

The Scots return seven starters from their 4-3 defense, led by linebacker Justin Vance, linemen Jajuan Johnson, Kameron Brown and Hartley-transfer Mycheal Poole and defensive backs Michael Ayers and Darrick Forrest.

Ayers (first-team all-league and all-district) is a four-year starter and Forrest (second-team all-league) is a three-year starter.

The Warriors are expected to feature slotback Garth Medors, running back Terry Lowery and quarterback Kaleb Morris on offense. Their defensive leaders are expected to be Cole Nixon and Chase Music in the secondary, linebackers Austin Barrett and Chad Henry and linemen Dakota Patterson and Nathan Moffo.

"We've got to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers in our veer offense and hope we can break a few," Severino said. "The key for us is having the kids know what their role is, trusting each other and not trying to do too much. I want to see how we handle adversity. The kids are still learning."

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 27 -- Panther Classic at Pickerington North

Sept. 3 -- Granville Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion

Sept. 10 -- McGowan Invitational at home

Sept. 17 -- Galion Festival at Amman Reservoir

Sept. 24 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster

Oct. 1 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 5 -- Backwoods Two-Mile Fest at Thornville Sheridan

Oct. 15 -- LCL meet at home

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 20 -- vs. Franklin Heights

*Aug. 25 -- at Utica

Aug. 27 -- Karen Wohrer Invitational at Lancaster

*Sept. 1 -- at Licking Valley

Sept. 3 -- at Canal Winchester with Westerville South

*Sept. 6 -- vs. Heath

*Sept. 8 -- vs. Licking Heights

Sept. 10 -- at Newark with Marion Harding

*Sept. 13 -- at Lakewood

*Sept. 15 -- at Johnstown

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Granville

Sept. 22 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Newark Catholic

*Sept. 29 -- vs. Licking Valley

*Oct. 4 -- at Licking Heights

*Oct. 6 -- at Northridge

*Oct. 13 -- vs. Lakewood

*Oct. 15 -- at Granville

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Watkins Memorial boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 30 -- Lancaster at High Lands

Sept. 1 -- Olentangy Orange at Royal American

Sept. 3 -- Pickerington North at Pine Hill

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 30 -- At St. Charles

*Sept. 1 -- At Lakewood

Sept. 3 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon

*Sept. 1 -- Home vs. Lakewood

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 30 -- At Whetstone

Aug. 31 -- At Reynoldsburg

Sept. 1 -- Home vs. Granville

*League contest