After having coached Columbus Academy to a pair of state runner-up finishes in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association girls team tournament, Tommy Haddow has a grasp of what the Wellington School boys team will have in store when it competes Sunday, May 27, at Reynoldsburg.
The Jaguars' appearance in the Division II state team tournament will cap what they hope is an action-packed weekend.
On Friday, May 25, singles players Trevor Ball and Milan Gonela and the doubles team of Connor Biernat and Griffin Biernat will compete in the OHSAA state tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
"It's exciting," Haddow said. "These kids have never been (to the OTCA state event). As coaches, we like that better than (the) individual (tournament) because it brings the team together. I know they're excited to be there. ... What's real fun is having the talent."
Ball opened the district tournament held May 17 at Columbus Academy and May 19 at Elysium Tennis Center by beating Worthington Christian's AjAi Smith 6-0, 6-0 and then defeated teammate Adam Sorrels 7-5, 6-1 in a semifinal.
Gonela defeated Academy's Ryan Wahl 6-2, 6-1 and Academy's Arie Tuckerman 6-1, 6-1 to set up the district final, which Ball won 6-4, 6-1.
Sorrels opened district by beating Academy's Jack Madison 7-5, 7-6.
In doubles at district, the Biernat brothers beat DeSales' Liam Verfurth and Dylan Benedict 6-0, 6-0, Academy's Drew Haffer and Rhian Seneviratne 6-2, 6-3 and Academy's Sam Vogel and Suriya Sundaram 7-6, 6-1 to capture the title.
Also at district in doubles, Ryan Young and Kolapo Dairo lost to Vogel and Sundaram 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a first-round match.
"It went well," Griffin Biernat said. "We served pretty well. I thought we did a lot of stuff right. Going (to state) with (Connor will) be fun, and hopefully we can do pretty well."
Connor Biernat, who was state runner-up in singles as a sophomore and reached the second round of state in singles last season, believes he and his brother will show improvement on returning the ball the longer they play together.
"We've been doing a lot of practice matches and have been starting to figure each other out," Connor Biernat said. "I thought we held serve pretty well, did a good job in the middle, and also did well at covering the line and making first serves."
Wellington is expected to open the team competition against Gates Mills Hawken. Toledo Ottawa Hills also has qualified for the team competition, while the Southwest District representative will be Cincinnati Indian Hill or Cincinnati Seven Hills.
Each team is guaranteed two matches.
"It's our first time going to team state, so it's certainly exciting," Connor Biernat said.
Girls lacrosse team grew under new coach
The 12th-seeded girls lacrosse team lost 19-5 at fifth-seeded Columbus School for Girls in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 16.
The Jaguars finished 4-11 overall, but first-year coach Katie Hill believes there is plenty to be optimistic about heading into the offseason.
"I saw some really awesome moments from the whole team, especially in our later games," Hill said. "These moments make next season seem really promising. We're in a very difficult league, and the difference in skill level between the top teams and everyone else is vast. So, it can be a little discouraging just looking at our record, but we were able to compete at that high level and shine."
The Jaguars went 0-7 in the Central Independent League to finish behind DeSales (7-0), Academy (6-1), Granville (5-2), Hartley (4-3), CSG (3-4), Watterson (2-5) and Bexley (1-6).
Wellington earned victories over Hilliard Bradley (8-7 on April 3), Whetstone (19-3 on April 16), Chillicothe (14-8 on April 24) and Westerville South (14-8 on April 27). It also endured tight losses to Bellbrook (9-7 on April 14) and Bexley (8-6 on April 26).
The Jaguars are losing five seniors in Sarah Abdelbaki (attacker), Lizzy Chester (midfielder), Serino Nakayama (defender), Annie Taylor (attacker) and Libby White (defender).
According to Hill, Taylor led in draw controls and White led in ground balls while Chester was second on the team in goals with 24.
Sophomore attacker Mia Croft scored a team-best 26 goals.
Others eligible to return include juniors Mackenzie Beam (midfielder) and Ella Sweitzer (goalkeeper) and sophomores Sarah Anderson (attacker), Anna Chester (defender), Mia Croft (attacker), Sedera Green (defender), Lindsay Harris (defender) and Neha Rao (attacker).
"I'm really excited to see who emerges as leaders from the returning class," Hill said. "We only have two juniors returning, but (we have) a very large sophomore class. I saw many of the younger girls really emerge as their skills improved. I think we have a very promising future."
Softball team should return strong nucleus
With just three seniors in its program, softball coach Me-Chelle Burkhalter expected her team to improve as the season progressed.
One example of that occurring took place April 18 when the Jaguars beat Harvest Prep 26-2 to avenge a 12-8 loss on April 2 in which they had led 8-0.
"We had some unexpected bumps, (but) our record is not a reflection of our growth," Burkhalter said. "To start the season off losing to Harvest Prep after leading 8-0 was a major strike to the ego, but we bounced back and beat them 26-2 in our next meeting. We were the comeback kids on several occasions, winning in the bottom of the seventh inning."
One of the team's three seniors was Jakaysha Williams (OF), who batted better than .500 and was second on the team in runs scored, according to Burkhalter.
Burkhalter said sophomore Rosemary Haskett (LF) led the MSL-Cardinal in batting average and runs scored while making second-team all-league.
The Jaguars finished 7-14 overall and went 3-9 in their first season in the MSL-Cardinal to place fifth, behind champion Berne Union (12-0).
Wellington was the 20th seed for the Division III district tournament and won 25-6 at 17th-seeded Africentric in the first round May 8 before losing to second-seeded Cardington 30-0 in the second round May 10.
Junior pitcher Camille Simpson and sophomore catcher Megan Leino comprised the team's battery.
Leino and junior Soleil Tibbets-Barnes (CF) both were honorable mention all-league.
Other key players included junior Aqulia Simmons (C/1B) and sophomore Lexi Horan (2B).
Also eligible to return are juniors Shaina Belford (OF), Jaedyn Gaines (OF), Sophie Haskett (3B), Megan Johnson (INF), Rose Nandor (INF), Skyler Perry (OF) and Veronica Poster (INF), sophomores Emma Bond (3B) and Kate Hans (P) and freshmen Sydney Belford (2B/C), Lu Godfrey (INF/OF), Angelina Grohovsky (C/INF), Lola Perez (INF) and Taylor Vargo (INF).
Junior class brings hope in baseball
With what coach Craig Jones believes is a "strong junior class," the baseball team is hoping to build on performances like its 11-10 win over Berne Union on April 30 as it prepares for next season.
The Jaguars scored six runs in the seventh inning in that victory, including a grand slam by junior Trevor McCraw (C/P/INF).
Wellington finished 8-19 overall and went 5-9 in the MSL-Cardinal to place fifth behind co-champions Grove City Christian and Fisher Catholic (both 12-2) while Berne Union (11-3) was third.
"After a slow start to the season offensively, our team began to get our bats going on a consistent basis," Jones said. "(Our) junior class ... provided leadership and strong play."
Wellington was the 12th seed for the Division IV district tournament and lost 9-1 at third-seeded Morral Ridgedale in its postseason opener May 7.
McCraw hit .408 with two home runs and 36 RBI, junior Ian Frim (INF/OF) batted .338 with 19 runs scored, junior Ryan Ouellette (P/1B/OF) hit .377 with 23 RBI and freshman Scout Zaas (1B/OF/P) batted .294. Junior Jack Haney (1B/OF/P) hit .447 with 13 RBI and 16 runs scored in just 13 games.
On the mound, Frim went 3-3 and sophomore Josh Wooddell was 2-2.
Freshman Rory O'Sullivan (utility) was a "welcome surprise," according to Jones.
Others eligible to return include juniors Andrew Haraburda (OF/P) and William Roy (INF/DH), sophomores Vince Hall (utility) and Ryan Ray (INF/C) and freshman Declan Unverferth (utility/OF).
"We must continue to get stronger defensively," Jones said. "Giving teams extra outs often led to big innings. If we can reduce the number of freebies we give teams, we'll be the competitive team I know we can be."
Most of boys lacrosse team set to return
After losing its first eight games, the boys lacrosse team closed the regular season by winning two of its final three contests.
The Jaguars, who were seeded 15th for the Division II, Region 7 tournament and lost to second-seeded Buckeye Valley 23-0 in a second-round game May 14 to finish 2-10, had just two seniors in Hale Edwards (midfielder) and David Jacques (defender).
Wellington earned victories over Johnstown (5-4 in overtime May 7) and Newark (13-3 on May 10).
"This year, we were just a really young team," coach Eric Fraser said. "A lot of them are athletes in other sports, and game one of the season was the first game ever for some of them. I'm really happy with the growth of the team. Our team at the end of the year would have destroyed the team we put on the field at the beginning of the year. We finished on a strong note."
According to Fraser, junior Katz Kadlic (midfielder) was the team's leading scorer and junior Trevor Seitz (attacker) also was a key player on offense.
Fraser also was pleased with the growth of sophomore goalie Kyle Tocci as well as with junior faceoff midfielder Evan Albers.
Others eligible to return include juniors Ben Edwards (attacker), Harrison Morosky (defender) and Evan Scott (midfielder) and sophomores Andre Arman (defender) and Todd Bainbridge (attacker).
"The core of this team that will return is really strong," Fraser said.