Watterson Roundup: Eagles track and field program looks to build on indoor success

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Nick Geelan is competing at first singles for the Watterson boys tennis team. He is one of four seniors for the Eagles, who return to action April 15 against DeSales.

The Watterson track and field program hopes a strong indoor season helps to compensate for the experience it lost when the 2020 outdoor season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The girls finished fourth in Division I at the state indoor finale held March 5 and 6 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, and the boys were fourth in the Division II-III meet. 

“I wasn’t going up there trying to place as a team, but it was nice to see,” coach Adam Kessler said. “We have about 42 girls and we actually have more boys than girls for the first time with about 45 boys. We’ve got a real big freshman class and our senior class has a decent amount as well, so it’ll be fun to see how they do.” 

The top girls returnee is senior Anna Kessler, the coach’s daughter who has committed to William & Mary. She was ninth in the 100 meters (12.69 seconds) at the 2019 state outdoor meet and fourth in the 60 (7.71) at the state indoor finale this winter while also joining seniors Grace Jenkins and Cailin O’Reilly and sophomore Sydney Workman on the first-place 800 relay (1:42.9).

Junior Jordan Morales also is among the sprint corps and competes in the long jump. 

Seniors Erin Connors and Clare Mackin are the top hurdlers. Connors is the program record holder in the 300 hurdles and was a regional qualifier in that event in 2019.

Senior Brooklyn Brush, juniors Riley Connors and Claire Sugar and sophomore Eden Brush are competing in middle distance. In 2019, Brooklyn Brush, Erin Connors and Sugar ran on the 3,200 relay at regional. 

Junior Chloe Demboski, sophomore Erin Karas and freshman Lucy Ragiel, who qualified for regional in cross country last fall, are the top distance runners. 

Senior Olyvia Kennedy, who has committed to play volleyball for George Mason, is competing in the shot put and discus. 

Junior Amelia Moreland and O’Reilly are the top high jumpers, and Morales is joined in the long jump by sophomore Hannah Brady. 

“We’ve got a lot of depth and I expect that they’re going to be pretty good this year,” coach Kessler said. “A lot of what I try to do as a team is base it around the four relays and kind of go from there as far as some of the individual events we do. All four of our relays should be pretty tough this year. ... As long as we stay healthy, we should see a lot of success.” 

The boys team should be led by seniors Will Garey (middle distance/distance) and Tyler Young (long jump/sprints) and junior Max Latshaw (distance). 

At the state indoor finale, Garey was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:23.92), Latshaw was second in the 3,200 (9:44.77) and Young was runner-up in the long jump (20 feet, 9 inches). 

Garey also was an outdoor regional qualifier in the 1,600 in 2019. 

Seniors Nick Youell and Spencer Mandzak join Young and senior Cam Nickleson as key sprinters. Youell was a regional qualifier in the 400 in 2019. 

Junior Cris Kubatko, who competed in the state indoor finale in the 3,200, joins Garey, Latshaw, junior David Druhan and sophomore Finn Kephart in the distance corps, while junior Jake Vanausdle is running in middle-distance events. 

Senior Carson Blank and freshman Dominic Rubino are the top hurdlers, with Nickleson joining Young in the long jump. 

Senior Kervin Azor and sophomores Mason Bermudez and Seven Scott are competing in the high jump, with seniors Patrick Jesse and Matthew Johnson in the shot put and discus. 

“The good thing with the boys is a lot of our schedule is based on the girls, so we go to a lot of meets (with Division I teams) with a sprinkling of Division II schools, so hopefully they’ll be battle-tested,” coach Kessler said. 

TRACK & FIELD 

Coach: Adam Kessler, third season 

Next meet: April 16 at Bexley Relays 

Key athletes: Boys – Carson Blank, Will Garey, Patrick Jesse, Cris Kubatko, Max Latshaw, Spencer Mandzak, Jake Vanausdle, Nick Youell and Tyler Young; Girls – Brooklyn Brush, Erin Connors, Chloe Demboski, Grace Jenkins, Anna Kessler, Cailin O’Reilly, Lucy Ragiel, Claire Sugar and Sydney Workman 

Seniors leading 

boys tennis squad 

The boys tennis team didn’t have any seniors last spring before the season was canceled. 

There are four seniors this year, however, which has the Eagles believing they’ll be at least as competitive if not more so than in 2019 when they went 7-8 overall and 3-1 in the CCL. 

“It’s so exciting to have this season kick off and actually get to have matches,” coach Ryan Schwieterman said. “We were lucky last year that we had no seniors who would have missed out on their last season and I’m thankful that the four seniors we have who have been on the team since they were freshmen will have a chance to play. They’re an extremely good group of senior leaders.” 

Senior Nick Geelan is at first singles, and Johnny DiOrio, Adam Pavliga and Cole Petrilla are the other seniors. DiOrio could see time in both singles and doubles, while Petrilla could play at second or third singles and Pavliga is at first doubles. 

Junior Grant Gilsenan and freshman Tommy Spence are other options in singles and also will play doubles. 

Sophomore Colby Graham and freshman Ashton Slack are other doubles players. 

“We’re a split team in terms of experience with half of our team having good experience and half being new to the team or new to match experience,” Schwieterman said. “This year’s team is very well-rounded in terms of multisport athletes. … (We) play a really difficult schedule of local teams considering our lineup includes a lot of rookie players in terms of match experience.” 

BOYS TENNIS 

Coach: Ryan Schwieterman, fourth season 

Next match: April 15 vs. DeSales 

Key athletes: Johnny DiOrio, Nick Geelan, Grant Gilsenan, Adam Pavliga, Cole Petrilla and Tommy Spence 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek