Entering the season, the Watterson High School boys lacrosse team believed it could experience success closer in range to when it was a state semifinalist in 2017 than a season ago when it finished 10-7.
An 11-10 overtime win over DeSales on April 25 at Fortress Obetz was an important barrier to cross for the Eagles, who went on to earn the No. 1 seed for the Division II, Region 7 tournament while the Stallions were seeded second.
Watterson sought another win against DeSales when the teams met in a regional final May 23 at Westerville South, but the Stallions won 10-6.
Dominic Dean and Henry Blevins both scored two goals for the Eagles, who finished 17-3.
"We're a lot closer as a team than we were last year," senior defender Barrett Baur said. "We all hang out together outside of lacrosse, so we have good chemistry built up."
The Eagles defeated fourth-seeded Licking Valley 15-6 in a regional semifinal May 20 at Otterbein, as Dean had five goals and three assists, Max Graham scored three goals and Nick Jannot had three goals and three assists.
"We were a little lackadaisical at the beginning and (Licking Valley) came out hard," said Graham, a junior attacker. "After the first quarter, we got a pep talk and just started playing and let our talents do the talking."
Junior midfielder Max Ritchey, the "quarterback of the offense" according to coach Chris Sauter, believes senior leadership helped the Eagles return to a regional final this spring after losing in a regional semifinal last season.
"We bond outside of lacrosse and have become really close," Ritchey said. "We like to play fast, push transition and have been trying to piece it all together this year."
Boys volleyball team makes regional final
The boys volleyball team reached the Division II East Region final for the second consecutive season.
The second-seeded Eagles faced top-seeded St. Charles on May 24 at Westerville Central with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
"We started out our sophomore year and were terrible," senior outside hitter Jack Brinkman said. "Last year, we didn't know what to expect and kind of shocked everybody. This year, we came in with a little bit of expectations. Everyone's really doubted us, so I just like to prove people wrong."
The Eagles lost twice to St. Charles in the regular season, falling 25-19, 25-12, 25-23 on April 4 and 25-22, 19-25, 25-17, 25-21 on April 16.
The regional champion plays Kettering Alter or Middletown Fenwick in a state semifinal Saturday, June 1, at Capital.
The state final is Sunday, June 2, at the same site.
Watterson beat fourth-seeded and host Worthington Kilbourne 25-16, 25-13, 21-25, 25-27, 15-7 in a regional semifinal May 21. The Eagles built an 11-2 lead in the fifth set on their way to closing it out.
"The decision-making out of Jake Maziarz, our setter, was probably the best he's done all year," coach Ryan Thompson said. "Ethan Burchard in the middle had a great night and a lot of kills. Jack Brinkman is our bread-and-butter, go-to player.
"As a new coach myself last year, we didn't even know what the regional final would be like. I'd never even attended one until we showed up last year and it looked like there were thousands of people at Westerville Central. Hopefully, that stage fright hast turned more into a positive excitement."
Baseball team falls in district final
The third-seeded baseball team lost 7-4 to ninth-seeded Granville in a Division II district final May 23 at Gahanna to finish 21-7.
The Eagles built a 3-1 lead, but the Blue Aces scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning and held off a rally attempt by Watterson in the bottom of the inning.
Noah Truax went 1-for-2 with two RBI and started on the mound for the Eagles, allowing just one unearned run on two hits in five innings.
The contest marked the final game for coach Scott Manahan, who is retiring with more than 600 victories.
"I love these guys, and they work exceptionally hard," Manahan said. "My coaching staff is unbelievable. ... We didn't quit the whole game."
Watterson beat eighth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 10-0 in a district semifinal May 21 at New Albany.
Drake McAninch struck out six and gave up five hits in five innings. The Eagles scored three runs in each of the second, third and fourth innings as McAninch and Noah Grayem both went 3-for-3 and Sam Greiner and Stephen Garrett had two hits apiece.
Track athletes compete at regional
Members of the track and field teams competed in their respective regional meets last week.
The girls competed in the Division I regional May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North and the boys competed in the Division II regional May 23 and 25 at Lexington. The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.
On May 22 for the girls team, the 3,200-meter relay of Bridget Dougherty, Erin Connors, Brooklyn Brush and Claire Sugar finished sixth in 9 minutes, 38.15 seconds.
Also competing at regional for the girls were Anna Kessler in the 100 and 200 and Erin Connors in the 300 hurdles.
Competing for the boys team were Callen Dailey in the 100 and Will Garey in the 1,600.
Softball team has breakthrough year
A season after going 14-10 but losing in the second round of the Division I district tournament, the softball team improved to 17-10 overall and reached a district final for the first time since 2013.
The 15th-seeded Eagles, who lost 4-0 to ninth-seeded Gahanna in a district final May 17 at Pickerington Central, are losing six seniors.
Senior outfielder Gracie Bressoud led the Eagles in batting average (.519), RBI (24) and runs scored (24) and senior pitcher Moira O'Reilly went 9-4 with 166 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings.
Other key seniors were pitcher/designated player Nicole Funge (14 RBI) and second baseman Maddie McCleary (15 runs).
Sophomore Rachel Reuter (C) batted .377 with a team-high four home runs and 17 RBI and junior Maddie Egelhoff (SS/INF) had 14 RBI and scored 16 runs.
Junior Sydney Blake (SS), sophomores Natalie Funge (LF) and Grace Jenkins (OF) and freshman Anna Emswiler (1B) also were key players.
"I'm real proud of what this group did," coach Emily Manahan said. "Gahanna is a perennial team and always (in a district final), and if we get one or two hits that fall, it's a different story. I'm excited for what this group has ahead of them. We've got a really good junior class coming up. We'll definitely miss the seniors, but we've got some young kids that are ready to do their best and we hope to be here again next year."
Girls lacrosse team losing four seniors
The girls lacrosse team improved by four wins under first-year coach A.J. English.
The fourth-seeded Eagles lost to top-seeded DeSales 15-7 in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal May 18 to finish 11-6 overall.
Watterson, which placed third in the CCL at 1-2 and fifth in the Central Independent League at 2-4, is losing four seniors in Regan Abahazie (goalkeeper), Erica Melaragno (attacker), Anna Molnar (defender) and Payton Whitacre (midfielder).
Junior midfielder Emily Dixon and freshman midfielder Zoe Coleman should be the top returnees next season after making first-team all-CCL.
Junior Abbey Giesler (attacker) and sophomores Victoria Alves (attacker) and Alex Piccolo (midfielder) were second-team all-CCL.
Others eligible to return are juniors Hope Adams (midfielder), Margaret Baur (midfielder) and Emma Johnson (midfielder), sophomores Molly Balyeat (defender), Aubrey Bower (goalie), Bridget Korn (attacker), Krishna Patel (defender) and Caroline Slater (defender) and freshmen Brooke Biagi (defender), Maria Decaminada (attacker), Abbie Foltz (defender), Molly Griffith (defender) and Caroline Smith (defender).