Watterson Roundup: Eagles wrestling team deals with ups and downs

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Danny Siegel tosses Heath's Noah Sprague in their 170-pound match Jan. 27. Siegel and his teammates have dealt with quarantine issues and are working to find their footing. “It’s been a rough go, but the kids keep working hard and overcoming,” coach Felix Catheline said.

Because of quarantine issues, the mental challenges that junior Danny Siegel and the Watterson wrestling team have dealt with this winter sometimes have felt as grueling as the physical ones. 

Although Siegel didn’t test positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, he quarantined from Dec. 20-Jan. 4 because of contact tracing. 

The Eagles had to quarantine in mid-January as a team, forcing them to reschedule their matches in the CCL duals, which would have taken place Jan. 13. 

“Not wrestling for almost three weeks was terrible,” Siegel said. “Right now I need to get my cardio back up.” 

Watterson, which lost seven of its first 10 duals, was scheduled to face DeSales and Ready on Feb. 3 as part of the rescheduled CCL dual tournament. The Eagles still must face seven-time defending league-champion Hartley, and that match tentatively has been scheduled for Feb. 10. 

On Jan. 23, the Eagles had six wrestlers still in quarantine and placed 11th (38.5) in the 12-team Ron Thomas Invitational at Jonathan Alder behind champion Marysville (225.5). 

“It’s been a rough go, but the kids keep working hard and overcoming,” coach Felix Catheline said. “It’s hard on every program, so we know our situation is no different than most.” 

After the Ron Thomas Invitational, Siegel was 8-3 at 170 pounds, senior Leo Pavell (138) was 5-2 and senior Nick Youell (195) was 5-1. 

The Eagles also have three girls competing in sophomores Lily Grayem (143, 7-3), Mercedes Motton (160, 6-1) and Kate VanDuzen (111). 

After the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association held its first state girls tournament last winter, there will be a district tournament for the first time, scheduled for Feb. 14 at Olentangy Orange. The state tournament is Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson. 

The boys postseason will begin with Division II sectional competition Feb. 26 and 27 at Licking Valley. 

Other boys who have been regular competitors for the Eagles include senior Charlie McAdow (heavyweight), juniors Derek Caswell (heavyweight) and Patrick Randall (220), sophomore Mason Hildebrand (182) and freshmen Owen Dorley (160), Luke Hangen (113), Parker Jenkins (126), Landon Purcell (145) and William Short (152).  

Siegel is looking forward to the sectional after going 37-10 last winter but not being able to compete in the postseason because of a knee injury. 

While Caswell and Hangen both were fifth at the Ron Thomas Invitational, Siegel finished fourth to lead the Eagles. 

“Honestly I could have done way better (in the Ron Thomas Invitational),” Siegel said. “I feel like I just didn’t wrestle like myself. The tournament was 11 to 12 hours long, so during the rest of the matches, I felt not as prepared. My scrambling felt pretty good. 

“Last year I hurt my LCL. The kid didn’t know he was being pinned, so he grabbed my heel and you could hear a pop. I did finish the match, but I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. (The rehab) was just a lot of ice and (physical therapy). It went into the first month of football practice, but now it feels like it’s about 90 to 95 percent healed.” 

Siegel, who saw action at linebacker and nose guard for the football team last fall, has been impressed with the growth of the wrestling program. 

“We’ve got a bunch of our lightweights who are freshmen and the potential they have is insane,” Siegel said. "I’m amazed by how much strength and courage they have. They’re wrestling varsity tournaments against kids that have wrestled their whole life.” 

Girls basketball team 

starts to hit stride 

Girls basketball coach Sam Davis was happy to get back on the bench for his team’s 41-35 victory over Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 23 after missing time because of COVID-19. 

He believes the Eagles continued to build on a strong start while being led by assistant coach Mike Lanza, a former head coach at Hartley who stepped in temporarily. 

“I missed a few games,” Davis said. “I hated it, but I’m so blessed. The kids are amazing and they didn’t miss a beat. Our coaching staff is unbelievable. It was just a smooth transition. They did great and I knew they would. Mike Lanza won a district championship at Hartley and I knew the team would be in good shape.” 

The Eagles were 3-0 in the CCL after beating Hartley 48-37 on Jan. 21 and 10-4 overall after losing to Gahanna 50-41 on Jan. 26.

Through 13 games, senior guard Kilyn McGuff was averaging 17.7 points, senior guard Danielle Grim was averaging 11 points, junior forward Kiley Graham was averaging 5.2 points and sophomore wing player Keiryn McGuff was averaging 4.8 points. 

Senior guard Brynn Mulligan, junior guards Grace Cantwell and Camille Gregory, junior forward Norah Dorley and sophomore forward Sydney Spears also have been key contributors. 

The Division I district tournament is scheduled to begin Feb. 16. 

“I feel really bad for these kids because we weren't able to have the kind of summer we wanted because we couldn’t really play,” Davis said. “We go into the season and I’m grateful for this, but we didn’t have our fall athletes through all of our scrimmages. So you have a summer with no games and four scrimmages with not our entire team.

“Because the kids are such hard workers, we were OK defensively, but we’ve been learning a new offense and that really took some time. These kids have responded and we’re starting to play and move the ball. It’s been fun to watch the development.” 

Nick Malagreca and the Watterson boys basketball team will learn their Division II district tournament drawing Feb. 7.

Boys basketball team 

continues to battle

With a 59-56 loss to DeSales on Jan. 20, the boys basketball team dropped to 0-5 in the CCL. The Eagles then fell to 2-10 overall with a 51-44 loss Jan. 26 to Olentangy Orange, but they have been putting up a fight. 

In addition to that tight loss to the Stallions, Watterson has lost five other games by 10 points or fewer, including 55-51 to St. Charles on Dec. 28. 

Watterson, which played the Cardinals again Feb. 2 and continues CCL action Feb. 5 at home against Ready, will learn its Division II district tournament drawing Feb. 7. The postseason begins Feb. 23. 

Through 11 games, senior Jake Hoying was averaging 13 points and senior Noah Gruver and sophomore Cole Rhett both were averaging nine points. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek