Watterson Roundup: Eagles' Motton, Grayem close girls wrestling season at state

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Lily Grayem concluded her season by competing in the girls state tournament, which was held Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson. Three sophomore girls – Grayem, Mercedes Motton and Katy VanDuzen – wrestled for the Eagles this winter.

Correction: A previous version of this story said wrestlers Lily Grayem and Mercedes Motton were runners-up in the district tournament. Both were district champions.

Before his third season as Watterson wrestling coach, Felix Catheline reached out to girls from fall sports teams to find out who might want to give his sport a try.

Sophomore Katy VanDuzen, who had a sibling competing in the sport at another school, was among those most interested. 

Sophomore Mercedes Motton, who was on the girls volleyball team that made it to a Division I state semifinal last fall, also came out even though Catheline didn’t get a chance to check in with athletes in that sport. 

Motton, VanDuzen and sophomore Lily Grayem participated in a virtual Zoom meeting with Catheline and Olentangy Orange coach Brian Nicola, who quickly has developed his program into one of the state’s best in girls wrestling. 

Nicola and Catheline have known one another for years after previously being coaches for Columbus West. 

“Katy VanDuzen was initially interested and met with the (Watterson) administration,” Catheline said. “Being a Catholic school, they really weren’t big on having them wrestling against boys, so I went around and talked to all the fall female sports and ironically the only one I didn’t get to was volleyball, but Mercedes and Lily showed up to a virtual meeting. They’ve all jumped in and it’s been exciting. Since having them come out, I was blown away with the way they’ve approached the sport. They get those butterflies, but when the whistle blows, they are natural competitors.” 

On Feb. 21 in the state tournament at Hilliard Davidson, Motton won her first two matches at 160 pounds before being pinned in 4 minutes, 58 seconds by eventual champion Alleana Long of Logan in a semifinal. In the consolation final, she was pinned in 4:44 by Isabell Carrington of Dayton Chaminade Julienne to finish fourth. 

“It was a rough day for me, I think, personally,” Motton said. “The first couple matches were kind of quick for me and when I got further into the day, I don’t know if I was necessarily prepared. I wasn’t really satisfied with the way I ended, but I wasn’t mad with the year.”

Motton finished 14-3.

“I just really saw a new opportunity to try a new sport,” she said. “Originally I was a competitive swimmer and my brother-in-law wrestled so I figured I’d try it.  

“There are a lot of strong girls and they tend to be bigger (than I am). I was kind of in the lower half of my weight class. We had a lot of competitions against Orange and went to a lot of the matches with the boys when the other teams had girls. I want to try a bunch of open tournaments (in the offseason), even wrestling boys to potentially get faster and stronger.” 

Grayem won her opening state match at 143 before getting pinned by eventual champion Lizbeth Banderas of Norwood in 2:19. 

She then won her first match in the backdraw before getting pinned in 4:09 by Fairfield’s Marissa Meyer. 

In the district tournament Feb. 13 and 14 at Orange, Grayem and Motton captured titles as the top four from each weight class advanced to state. VanDuzen (106) lost each of her three matches, but that included an 11-7 decision to Watkins Memorial’s Meagan Justice in the match to qualify for state. 

“They were a real joy to coach, and I got real lucky,” Catheline said. “It’s exciting because the sky is the limit. We’ve got to correct some first-year wrestler mistakes, but that’s literally the difference between getting fourth and first.” 

Senior forward Nick Colombo was among the top contributors for Watterson, finishing the season with eight goals and 12 assists.

Hockey team takes 

strides forward 

The hockey team improved by four wins from a season ago, finishing 17-11 overall and battling all season for the CHC-Blue Division title before settling for second (10-6) behind Olentangy (11-5). 

The 15th-seeded Eagles beat 14th-seeded Springboro 4-1 on Feb. 20 in the first round of the district tournament before losing 9-0 to sixth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller on Feb. 21 in the second round.  

“We only played 28 games and normally we play 35 in the regular season and at least a couple tournament games, but we were still able to get 17 wins out of that,” said coach Jay Graham, who earned his 400th career win Dec. 30 when the Eagles beat Columbus Academy 3-2 and now has 412 overall. “We actually started to understand what it was going to take for us to win hockey games, offensively and defensively.” 

Leading the senior class was defenseman Adam Pavliga, who had 11 goals and 22 assists. He was joined on the all-CHC-Blue first team by sophomore forwards D.J. Colombo (28 goals, 18 assists) and Brandon Trout (38 goals, 32 assists). 

Senior forward Hayden Storts had 12 goals and eight assists, junior forward Luke Simone had 12 goals and four assists, senior forward Nick Colombo had eight goals and 12 assists and sophomore goalie Andrew Burri had 328 saves and a .910 save-percentage. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Lucas Chan (forward) and Marie Grassi (defenseman), sophomores Collin Durham (forward), Brandon Feaver (defenseman) and Charlie Pelleriti (forward) and freshmen Adam Schirach (forward) and Logan Storts (forward).  

“We bring back quite a lot on the offensive end,” Graham said. “We had good numbers and expect to be able to replace the ones we’re losing numbers-wise. There’s a lot of talent coming into the building.” 

Two bowlers close 

season at district 

Senior Christina Rose and junior Joy Packard of the girls bowling team ended the season by competing in the Division I district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. 

Rose finished 17th with a 522 to miss qualifying for state by 39 pins. The top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced. 

Packard tied for 65th (415) for Watterson, which went 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the CCL as DeSales went 6-0 to win the title. 

Rose, who averaged 164.0 in the COHSBC to lead the Eagles, was one of three seniors on the girls team along with Hannah Ashmore and Rachel Reuter. 

Others eligible to return include sophomores Katie Whitsett and Natalie Zesch. 

“We didn’t win as many matches as we were anticipating, but we had some tough competition this year,” coach Kelly Bishop said. “The girls learned a lot and had lots of fun along the way. 

“I’m very impressed with Christina Rose and Joy Packard. Both girls put in tremendous effort on the lanes this year.” 

The boys team went 0-12 overall and 0-7 in the CCL but didn’t have any seniors. 

Junior Jack Kish led the Eagles in COHSBC average at 180.8, and junior Peter Assaf averaged 165.9. Juniors Quinn Brown and Blake Tippett and sophomore J.D. McMonagle are others eligible to return. 

“The boys team had a rough season,” Bishop said. “However, half our team consisted of first-year bowlers, so we aren’t shocked about how the season went.”  

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BOWLING  

Record: Boys — 0-12 overall; Girls — 5-6 overall  

League finishes: Boys — 0-7 (fifth) in CCL behind champion Hartley (6-2); Girls — 2-3 (third) in CCL behind champion DeSales (6-0) 

Seniors lost: Boys — None; Girls — Hannah Ashmore, Rachel Reuter and Christina Rose 

Key returnees: Boys — Peter Assaf, Quinn Brown, Jack Kish, J.D. McMonagle and Blake Tippett; Girls — Joy Packard, Katie Whitsett and Natalie Zesch 

Postseason: Boys — 40th (2,773) at sectional behind champion Marion Harding (4,316); Girls — 24th (2,565) at sectional behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,580) 

HOCKEY 

Record: 17-11 overall  

CHC-Blue standings: Olentangy (22, 11-5), Watterson (20, 10-6), Gahanna (18, 9-7), Columbus Academy (13, 6-10-0-1), Worthington Kilbourne (9, 4-11-0-1), DeSales (6, 3-14), Dublin Scioto (0, 0-16) 

Seniors lost: Tino Auddino, Nick Colombo, Daniel Davis, Owen Gibson, Colin Meyer, Adam Pavliga, Pablo Smith, Hayden Storts and Reed Whetstone 

Key returnees: Andrew Burri, D.J. Colombo, Collin Durham, Brandon Feaver, Alex Schirach, Luke Simone, Logan Storts and Brandon Trout 

Postseason: Defeated Springboro 4-1; lost to Cincinnati Moeller 9-0 in second round of district tournament