Watterson Roundup: Field hockey team starts strong

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Camille Gregory, a junior midfielder, is among the top returnees for the Watterson field hockey team and 24th-year coach Janet Baird.

Coming off a season in which it reached a 17th consecutive district championship game and was a district runner-up for the fifth year in a row, the Watterson field hockey team has returned nearly all of its key players.

That experience has shown so far, as the Eagles beat Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 4-1 on Sept. 5 and Columbus Academy 3-1 on Sept. 9 to improve to 6-0 overall before losing 1-0 to Thomas Worthington, a 2019 state semifinalist, on Sept. 11.

They defeated their first six opponents by a combined 29-3.

Watterson, which finished second (7-1) in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division last season behind Academy (8-0), is 3-0 in the league.

"So far, so good," 24th-year coach Janet Baird said. "I like where they're at. I have a huge team with a lot of returners. I have some great seniors back from last year's district championship game. They've all been out here since June 1 working their butts off."

Senior attacker Alex Picolo, who scored Watterson's only goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to Thomas in a district final last season, leads a seven-member senior class.

Senior Caroline Dunham has returned at goalie.

The other seniors are Lauren Neutzling (defender), Cailin O'Reilly (attacker), Maddie Phillips (midfielder), Anne Marie Ruess (attacker) and Audrey Schroeder (defender).

Juniors Grace Cantwell (attacker), Zoe Coleman (attacker), Camille Gregory (midfielder), Molly Griffith (midfielder), Claire Sugar (midfielder) and Makenna Twombly (attacker) and sophomores Ava Gruver (midfielder) and Ellie Pardi (defender) also are key returnees.

Others on the team are juniors Fiona Isbell (midfielder), Kenna Ryan (defender) and Natalie Wallace (defender) and sophomores Lily Goodfellow (attacker), Rachel Gora (attacker), Avelinn O'Reilly (attacker) and Sophia Schulteis (attacker).

"I have a lot of speed, so one of our strengths will definitely be speed this year," Baird said. "Their work ethic is awesome. We have some growing to do and it puts you a little behind to not get scrimmages, but I love their work ethic and I love their attitudes and that's half the battle right there."

Boys runners feeling optimistic

After winning the CCL championship and advancing to the Division II state meet last fall, senior Will Garey is back to lead the boys cross country team.

Juniors David Druhan, Cris Kubatko, Max Latshaw and Jake Vanausdle also have returned for the Eagles, who next compete Saturday, Sept. 19, in the Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park.

"After a number of years with the boys team being forced to run Division I because of combined enrollment, we're happy to be back in our normal Division II level," said coach Matt McGowan, who is in his 34th season. "If we can get our Nos. 4 through 7 runners to improve like last year, we'd love to battle for the CCL title again, as DeSales and St. Charles look strong this year."

Senior Joe Haemmerle, juniors Grant Gilsenan and Max Hall and sophomore Finn Kephart also have been among the team's top runners.

Senior Joey DiOrio also should contribute. He was taking the ACT and did not compete in the 10-team Newark Catholic Invitational on Aug. 29 as the Eagles finished second (91) behind Fredericktown (80).

Freshmen Danny Muldoon and William Short are others hoping to contribute.

Garey, who was runner-up (16 minutes, 27.4 seconds) at Newark Catholic while Latshaw was third (17:00.24), ran at state as a freshman when Watterson made it as a team. Last fall, he finished 48th (16:44.8) while competing as an individual.

Girls runners off to strong start

There were 44 competitors who came out for the girls cross country team, which scored 37 points to edge DeSales (38) for last year's CCL title and opened this season by scoring 60 points to win the nine-team Newark Catholic Invitational.

Freshman Lucy Ragiel ran 20:54.46 to finish fourth at Newark Catholic.

"I'm sure the girls would love to continue to improve during the season and battle for another CCL championship," McGowan said. "Division I girls is extremely competitive in central Ohio, as five of the top 20 teams at the state championships were from the Central District. If the team can stay healthy and continue to improve, they would look forward to advancing to the regional."

Sophomore Eden Brush won the CCL title and was a regional qualifier last season. Senior Averie Cunningham and juniors Riley Connors and Leah Hetteberg also are returnees.

Juniors Chloe Demboski and Olivia Oyster also are among the team's top runners.

Others looking to contribute include seniors Brooklyn Brush and Emily Vais, juniors Bella Eramo and Marie Grassi and freshman Ella Ruhe.

"You'd always like the seniors to finish their high school career with great performances," McGowan said. "With everything going on, I feel the team has been able to develop a good base leading up to the start of the school year and look forward to improving during the season. The biggest issue so far is the number of invitationals which have been canceled, reducing the number of teams and athletes which can run in some meets and some meets don't have a (junior varsity) race."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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At a glance

CROSS COUNTRY

*Coach: Matt McGowan, 34th season

*Top runners: Boys -- David Druhan, Will Garey, Max Hall, Finn Kephart, Cris Kubatko, Max Latshaw and Jake Vanausdle; Girls -- Eden Brush, Averie Cunningham, Chloe Demboski, Leah Hetteberg, Olivia Oyster, Lucy Ragiel and Tessa Whittaker

*Key losses: Boys -- Zach Kubatko and Jimmy Racher; Girls -- Bridget Dougherty and Sarah Heink

*2019 CCL standings: Boys -- Watterson (35), Hartley (46), St. Charles (59), DeSales (71), Ready (155); Girls -- Watterson (37), DeSales (38), Hartley (53), Ready (119)

*2019 postseason: Boys -- Sixth at district; Girls -- Ninth at district

FIELD HOCKEY

*Coach: Janet Baird, 24th season

*Top players: Grace Cantwell, Zoe Coleman, Caroline Dunham, Camille Gregory, Molly Griffith, Lauren Neutzling, Cailin O'Reilly, Alex Picolo and Anne Marie Ruess

*Key losses: Aubrey Bower, Emily Dixon and Olivia Iceman

*Last season: 13-5 overall

*2019 COFHL-East standings: Columbus Academy (8-0), Watterson (7-1), New Albany (6-2), Worthington Kilbourne (5-3), Granville (3-5), Hartley (2-6), Bexley (1-5-2), Lancaster (1-6-1), Columbus School for Girls (1-6-1)

*2019 postseason: Defeated Lancaster 7-0; def. Olentangy Orange 6-0; lost to Thomas Worthington 2-1 (OT) in district final