When the Watterson boys cross country team reached the Division II state meet in 2017, its lineup featured six seniors.

Its other competitor was a freshman who was the Eagles' No. 7 runner that season, but that was just the beginning of a blossoming career.

Now a junior, Will Garey made it to state as an individual this season and finished 48th of 186 runners in 16 minutes, 44.8 seconds Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.

His time was more than two minutes faster than in 2017 when he finished 175th of 180 runners in 19:28.2.

"It just shows I put in the work," Garey said. "I'm happy with my progress so far. One more year (of high school cross country is) going to be fun. During the summer, I trained a lot more than I was used to and added a lot more miles and I think that paid off a lot this season."

Garey was 27th through the first mile of the state meet before slipping back.

He won the CCL title (16:31.04) on Oct. 12 at Westerville Community Center and placed sixth (16:43.9) in the district 2 meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby and 15th (16:41.3) at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.

"It's still a learning thing," coach Matt McGowan said. "I think he went out a little bit fast (at state), but it's just a matter of being patient because it's a long way to the finish line sometimes. To be able to improve by almost three minutes in two years and be a top-50 finisher, there were some other guys that beat him at the regional meet that he beat today, so that's always a good thing."

Watterson had two seniors in its lineup in Zach Kubatko and Jimmy Racher when it finished sixth (143) at district to miss advancing to regional by two places and just four points.

Sophomores Max Latshaw, Cris Kubatko and David Druhan were the Eagles' next three runners after Garey at district, and sophomore Jake Vanausdle was another key contributor.

Volleyball team falls to Stallions

For the second consecutive season, the girls volleyball team had its season end in a Division I regional semifinal.

The Eagles lost to DeSales 25-15, 17-25, 25-12, 25-14 on Oct. 31 at Worthington Kilbourne to finish 21-6 overall. Watterson also lost twice to the Stallions during the regular season as DeSales went 5-1 in the CCL to win the league title and the Eagles were runners-up at 4-2.

Watterson did not have junior libero Sydney Taylor, an Ohio State commit who was playing for a national team for the season's first nine matches, in the first two meetings with the Stallions.

The Eagles lost in a regional semifinal last season to Olentangy Orange, which was a regional runner-up this season.

"In the fourth set (of the regional semifinal), DeSales played near perfect," coach Stephanie Grieshop said. "I had on my paper that they had one error and when a team plays that clean, they deserve to win. DeSales is a good team. At the beginning of the season, I had predicted them to win the regional out of our region so I knew it was a tall task for us, but the girls improved throughout the season."

The only senior was middle hitter Abby Stratford, a West Point commit who finished second on the team in kills and was named second-team all-league.

Taylor and junior right-side hitter Olyvia Kennedy both were first-team all-league and junior middle hitter/outside hitter Gina Grden and junior setter Sophie Mangold were other second-team honorees.

Junior defensive specialists Margo Lawson and Anna Jannot, sophomore right-side hitter/outside hitter Sierra Peterson and freshman outside hitter Ava Hoying also were key players.

Others who contributed included juniors Hope Uptegraph (defensive specialist) and Sophia Higgins (middle hitter/outside hitter) and freshmen Callie Kasun (setter), Mercedes Motton (middle hitter), Sydney Spears (setter) and Clara Vondran (outside hitter).

"We were a completely different team than we were a month ago," Grieshop said. "We didn't really start getting into our rhythm until late in the season. We had a win against (Olentangy) Liberty (25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21 on Oct. 1) and a win against Orange (25-23, 26-24, 25-27, 25-18 on Oct. 12), so we went into the (district) tournament feeling very confident."

Football team ends season with win

The football team beat St. Charles 17-3 on Nov. 1 to finish 7-3 overall and 1-2 in the CCL, finishing 11th in Division III, Region 11 as the top eight teams advanced to the playoffs.

The Eagles won three of their final four games.

Watterson trailed 3-0 at halftime but got a 28-yard field goal by Jonah Fortkamp to tie the game early in the third quarter and got a 1-yard touchdown run by Tommy Bair and a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Hoying to Davis Boone in the fourth.

Bair rushed 26 times for 152 yards and a touchdown, Hoying was 22-for-32 passing for 200 yards with one touchdown and Andrew Bettendorf had eight receptions for 113 yards.

It marked the Eagles' third consecutive win over St. Charles, which finished 4-6 overall and 0-3 in the league.

Most of girls runners expected to return

Emerging as the No. 1 runner for the girls cross country team this fall was freshman Eden Brush, whose season ended with a 103rd-place finish (21:08.4) at the Division I regional meet Oct. 26.

In the district 2 meet, Brush finished 20th (20:16) to advance individually, while senior Bridget Dougherty was 41st (21:13.2) and Brush's sister, junior Brooklyn Brush, placed 42nd (21:16).

Eden Brush also was the CCL champion, winning in 20:18.64 as the Eagles scored 37 points to edge DeSales (38) for the title.

"At first, I was a little nervous because I was the only freshman going into varsity, but it really helped with my sister, Brooklyn, being on the team," Eden Brush said. "She really helped me be comfortable with the team and everyone else was helpful, too. I was actually excited I was able to run (20:16 at district) and I was also excited with how I ran at (the) CCL (meet)."

The Eagles' only other senior was Sarah Heink, who was the team's No. 4 runner at the league meet when she finished 10th (21:39.31) behind Eden Brush, junior Averie Cunningham (seventh, 21:26) and Dougherty (eighth, 21:33.17).

Other key runners included sophomore Leah Hetteberg and freshmen Riley Connors and Lily Goodfellow.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek