Adam Kessler has enjoyed having a closer look at the Watterson High School track and field program in his first year as boys and girls coach this season.
A former youth assistant track coach who works in the fitness industry, Kessler has trained some current and former Eagles over the years.
This spring, he got to play a role in the girls team winning its second consecutive CCL championship and the boys team also having strong finishes at the league meet.
"I'm pretty happy with the way everything's shaping up," Kessler said. "We've been hitting (personal-best times) each meet, so it's been great. All the hard work is paying off. I'd trained athletes from Bishop Watterson, so I was very familiar with athletes like (senior) Tony Rogner. I still think we've got room to grow, which is good. I still don't think we're hitting our peak yet."
This week, the girls team is competing in the Division I, district 3 meet at Hilliard Darby. The meet began May 16 and continues Thursday, May 17, and concludes Saturday, May 19. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North.
The boys are competing in the Division II, district 1 meet that began May 15, continued May 16 and concludes May 19 at Westerville North. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 24 and 26 at Lexington.
The top four finishers at both regional meets advance to the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
The girls team scored 175.5 points to win the CCL meet May 8 and 10, ahead of host Hartley (116), DeSales (107), Ready (47.5) and Columbus School for Girls (45). The boys scored 78 points to place fourth behind DeSales (138), St. Charles (126) and Hartley (113) and ahead of Ready (33).
Freshman Anna Kessler won the 100 meters (12.89 seconds), placed second in the 200 (27.38) and ran on the winning 1,600 relay along with junior Jane Porter and freshmen Erin Connors and Cailin O'Reilly (4:09.84).
Also winning titles for the girls were Connors in the 300 hurdles (47.77), sophomore Bridget Dougherty in the 800 (2:25.1), junior Emily Latshaw in the 3,200 (12:32.57), junior Logan Paeglis in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches) and the 3,200 relay of senior Dougherty, Latshaw, senior Kelsi Connors and freshman Brooklyn Brush (10:00.36).
It was Paeglis' third consecutive CCL title in the high jump.
"So far, so good," Paeglis said. "I was hoping to (win) for a third time in a row. I've been relatively consistently. Obviously, my goal would be to go higher than (5-0), but first you've got to get there."
Also earning runner-up finishes for the girls were O'Reilly in the 400 (1:01.56), Brush in the 800 (2:27.02), freshman Kilyn McGuff in the long jump (16-10 1/4), freshman Isabella Roscoe in the discus (86-2), the 400 relay (51.72) and the 800 relay (1:49.44).
Leading the boys team was Nick Kuraly, who won the 3,200 (10:12.37) and ran on the second-place 3,200 relay along with freshman Will Garey and seniors Matthew Hartel and Matthew Lamb (8:24.46).
Also taking second were Rogner in the 400 (51.14) and senior Erik Placke in the discus (126-7).
Baseball team makes district semifinal
The eighth-seeded baseball team played top-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a Division II district semifinal May 14 at Hamilton Township.
The winner played third-seeded Lakewood or 12th-seeded Sparta Highland in a district final May 16. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 24 at Bowling Green Carter Park.
The Eagles improved to 16-9 with a 14-5 victory over 11th-seeded Granville in a second-round game May 10.
Josh Brobst went 3-for-5 with two RBI, Cole Andrews went 3-for-3, Nate Meyer was 2-for-4 and Adam Fallon and Eric Entler each had three RBI to lead the offense in support of pitcher Drake McAninch, who gave up two earned runs and struck out five over the first four innings. Stephen Garrett picked up the win in the relief and reliever Nick Hurley pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
Finissi advances to district in tennis
Junior Chris Finissi will represent the boys tennis team in the Division II district tournament Thursday, May 17, at Columbus Academy and Saturday, May 19, at Upper Arlington.
The top two finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
It marks the first time the Eagles have had someone compete at the district level since 2014 when one of its doubles teams advanced.
Finissi was seeded third and opened the sectional May 10 at CSG by beating Bexley's Nolan Winston 6-0, 6-2, Centennial's Spencer Newkirk 6-2, 6-1 and Village Academy's Max Block 6-4, 6-4 to qualify.
On May 12, Finissi lost to Wellington's Milan Gonela 6-2, 6-0 in a semifinal and fell to Wellington's Adam Sorrels 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to finish fourth.
"I'm excited," Finissi said. "I worked on my serve a lot and now my first-serve percentage has gone up a ton and it's really helped me win a lot of games."
In doubles, Nick Geelan and Cole Petrilla were seeded fourth but lost in the second round, while Jacob Devendra and Adam Pavliga lost in a quarterfinal.
Also in singles, Luke Ritchie beat Caledonia River Valley's Patrick Ravi 6-1, 6-3 in the first round and lost to Wellington's Adam Sorrels 6-1, 6-1 in the second round, and Johnny DiOrio beat Jonathan Alder's Evan Collins 6-0, 6-2 in the first round and lost to Bexley's Will Meyer 6-4, 6-0 in the second round.
Boys lacrosse team opens tourney play
The third-seeded boys lacrosse team opened the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 14 against 13th-seeded Jonathan Alder in a first-round game at Otterbein.
The winner plays at seventh-seeded Dayton Carroll or eighth-seeded Bellbrook in a regional quarterfinal Thursday, May 17. That winner will play at second-seeded Buckeye Valley, sixth-seeded Licking Valley, 11th-seeded Big Walnut or 15th-seeded Wellington in a regional semifinal Monday, May 21.
The regional final is May 24 at a site to be announced.
The Eagles lost to St. Charles 12-11 on May 10 to finish 0-2 in the CCL and were 8-6 overall before facing Jonathan Alder.
Watterson lost to DeSales 13-7 on May 4 but bounced back to beat Hilliard Bradley 14-4 on May 8 as Dominic Dean and Nicholas Manuel both scored three goals and Max Graham, Patrick Hall and Paul Hamlett each scored two.
Softball team to return strong group
The 12th-seeded softball team lost 10-3 to 15th-seeded Mount Vernon in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 9 at home to finish 14-10 overall.
Watterson finished with the same record last season when it reached a district semifinal.
The Yellow Jackets scored five runs in the second inning and led 7-0 after four innings.
"If you look back at the games we struggled in, it came down to one bad inning," first-year coach Emily Manahan said.
The Eagles are losing five seniors in Kristin Bricker (CF), Bekah Forshey (LF), Gretchen Glanzman (3B/SS), Samantha Goad (OF) and Kenzie Yates (1B), all of whom were contributors.
Glanzman batted .321 with 15 RBI and a team-best 24 runs scored, Forshey scored 16 runs and Goad went 13-for-33 (.394) at the plate.
Junior Gracie Bressoud (RF) batted .342 with 17 runs scored and junior pitcher Nicole Funge went 12-7 with a 3.58 ERA.
Others eligible to return include juniors Tori Demko (C), Grace Jenkins (OF), Maddie McCleary (2B) and Moira O'Reilly (P/utility) and sophomores Sydney Blake (SS) and Maddie Egelhoff (INF).
The Eagles went 4-2 in the CCL to place second behind Ready (5-1) and ahead of DeSales (2-4) and Hartley (1-5).
"Our general softball IQ was something I was definitely excited about seeing improvements in," Manahan said. "From the beginning of the season until the end of the year, they knew the game better, which is important to me and will help roll into more success as we go on.
"Our defense played really well. Our outfield play definitely set a standard this year. I think we made some really big positive gains and we return a lot of kids. The seniors were such role models, but the next group of kids is going to fill in nicely."
Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson girls lacrosse and boys volleyball teams:
May 17 -- Home vs. 10th-seeded Big Walnut in first round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament. Winner plays at second-seeded Columbus Academy or 13th-seeded Bexley in regional quarterfinal May 19. That winner plays host to third-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, sixth-seeded Hartley, 11th-seeded Dayton Carroll or 15th-seeded Dayton Miami Valley in regional semifinal May 22. The regional final is May 25. Watterson is the seventh seed.
May 17 -- At Worthington Kilbourne