Watterson Roundup: Eagles girls swimming team peaked at right time

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Sophomore Grace Rider tied for seventh in the 100 breaststroke during the Division I state meet Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. That was one of two podium finishes for the Eagles girls team.

To break up potential monotony before it was cleared to begin competing in meets, the Watterson girls swimming and diving team selected athletes of the week and created other incentives. 

The work the Eagles put in during December and January, when it wasn’t certain whether there would be a CCL meet or a postseason, paid off Feb. 26 in the Division I state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton. 

Putting together what coach Dan Cherok called “thrilling” finishes also could be a bridge to even more success considering the Eagles expect to return all five of their state competitors. 

“We had a tough year,” Cherok said. “We had some nagging injuries we had to deal with, but overall I’m very happy with what they’ve done and I think they are, too. They all did their best.” 

The Eagles had two podium finishes at state, with junior Olivia Oyster finishing sixth in the 50-yard freestyle (23.54 seconds) and sophomore Grace Rider tying for seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.02). 

Watterson’s sixth-place finish at district in the 200 medley relay was good enough to help it advance to state, where Oyster, Rider and juniors Lucia Cherok and Molly Shanahan finished 11th (1:47.75). 

Oyster added a 10th-place finish in the 100 free (52.13), and the 400 free relay of Cherok, Oyster, Rider and sophomore Teagan Price placed 13th (3:34.6). 

Rider followed a fourth-place district finish in the 100 breast by dropping more than a second off of her time at state. 

“I didn’t have such a good swim at districts, so I really wanted to swim my best time and I went a best time, so I was really happy,” Rider said. “We’re so excited. (The state meet went) really well, better than we thought we’d do, so we’re really happy. I thought everybody did really well. We were all happy with our individuals and we were just really happy to be here and have a season with COVID.” 

Watterson, which scored 51.5 points to place 15th at state, had three others compete in an event at district. Juniors Anna Liedtke and Lucy Louden both swam on the 200 free relay along with Price and Shanahan, and sophomore diver Olive O’Dorisio placed eighth (353.5) as the top five advanced to state. 

The only seniors were Clare Galuzny and Isabella Roscoe. 

Juniors Caroline Elliott, Ana Galuzny and Carlee Gotti and freshmen Peyton Graham and Bridget Hayes are others eligible to return. 

Entire boys swim

team set to return 

All six competitors on the boys swimming and diving team were freshmen. 

In the Division II district meet Feb. 18 at Bowling Green, Danny Muldoon was 21st in the 200 free (2:03.72) and 22nd in the 100 fly (1:03.71), Julian Cherok was 10th in the 200 IM (2:13.98) and 16th in the 100 back (1:01.12), Elliott Schmidt placed 17th in the 100 breast (1:09.11) and the 200 free relay of Cherok, Muldoon, Dominic Rubino and Schmidt was 14th (1:40.08). 

Freshman Logan Knapp finished fourth (250.75) in diving as the top two advanced to state. 

Also in the program was freshman swimmer L.J. Kramer.

Junior forward Kiley Graham is expected to be one of the top returnees for Watterson, which was a Division I district runner-up for the fourth time in five seasons.

Girls basketball team 

falls in district final

For the fourth time in five seasons, including the third in a row, the girls basketball team ended its season as a Division I district runner-up. 

The fifth-seeded Eagles avenged a 40-39 double-overtime loss to Hilliard Bradley on Dec. 28 with a 43-34 victory over the 13th-seeded Jaguars on Feb. 24 in a district semifinal.

They couldn’t, however, avenge one of their other losses, a 35-30 setback to Pickerington Central on Dec. 21, in a district final Feb. 27 at home. 

In the rematch with the seventh-seeded Tigers, Watterson trailed 20-18 at halftime but Central went on a 10-0 run to begin the third period and won 48-28. 

Central beat the Eagles 43-40 in a district final last season. 

Sam Davis took over as coach this winter after Tom Woodford had led the program for 19 seasons.

“They’re just really athletic and we knew they were going to trap so we worked on it all week, but you can’t simulate their athleticism,” Davis said. “When we did execute and we had open shots, we didn’t hit them. I bet we missed 10 putbacks, so that’s 20 points, maybe more. They’re really athletic and strong and we didn’t match that.” 

Watterson finished 17-5 overall, including going 5-0 in the CCL to win the title. 

The senior class was led by guards Danielle Grim (10 points) and Kilyn McGuff (16.5 points, 7 rebounds). Grim has committed to Long Island. 

The other seniors were guard Brynn Mulligan and wing player Caroline Slater. 

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity and that we got to play this year after a lot of states don’t have their kids playing,” Grim said. “It hurts to be back (in a district final) and lose it again to the same team, but at least I’m thankful for the opportunity. The new coaches have come in and done great things.” 

Sophomore guard Keiryn McGuff, who is Kilyn’s sister, and junior forward Kiley Graham should be the top returnees. 

Others eligible to return include junior guards Grace Cantwell, Tanya Eagle and Camille Gregory, junior wing player Norah Dorley and sophomore post player Sydney Spears. 

“(Grim is) the best point guard I’ve seen this year,” Davis said. “Dani just does so much for us. She’s amazing. Caroline Slater is such a leader. She doesn’t play much but she’s just the ultimate captain, very selfless, and the girls love her. Brynn is just an energy bunny on defense. Kilyn and Dani are just special players. It’s hard to see them leave.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

GIRLS BASKETBALL 

Record: 17-5 overall  

CCL standings: Watterson (5-0), Hartley (3-2), DeSales (1-4), Ready (0-3) 

Seniors lost: Danielle Grim, Kilyn McGuff, Brynn Mulligan and Caroline Slater 

Key returnees: Grace Cantwell, Norah Dorley, Kiley Graham, Camille Gregory, Keiryn McGuff and Sydney Spears 

Postseason: Defeated Northland 55-29; def. Hilliard Bradley 43-34; lost to Pickerington Central 48-28 in Division I district final 

SWIMMING & DIVING 

CCL standings: Boys — St. Charles (539), DeSales (217), Hartley (196), Watterson (115), Ready (2); Girls — Watterson (462), Hartley (324), DeSales (281), Ready (28) 

Seniors lost: Boys — None; Girls — Clare Galuzny and Isabelle Roscoe 

Key returnees: Boys — Julian Cherok, Logan Knapp, L.J. Kramer, Danny Muldoon, Dominic Rubino and Elliott Schmidt; Girls — Lucia Cherok, Anna Liedtke, Lucy Louden, Olive O’Dorisio, Olivia Oyster, Teagan Price, Grace Rider and Molly Shanahan 

Postseason: Boys — 24th (14) at district behind champion Dover (218.5); Girls — Eighth (122) at district behind champion New Albany (378.5), 15th (51.5) at state behind champion New Albany (246.5)