Watterson Roundup: Eagles' Anna Kessler aiming for another state run

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson senior Anna Kessler is not only the daughter of girls track coach Adam Kessler, she is one of the team's top competitors. “I’ve done a really good job of keeping expectations realistic, and with Anna, one of her best attributes is being able to separate me as father and coach,” Adam said.

Considering that senior Anna Kessler has been competing in track and field for about eight years and her father has served as her coach for much of that time, it’s almost inevitable that the topic will come up when they’re together. 

One thing that her father, Watterson girls coach Adam Kessler, continues to be impressed with is the normalcy of their relationship – on and off the track. 

“I’ve done a really good job of keeping expectations realistic, and with Anna, one of her best attributes is being able to separate me as father and coach,” Adam said. “She does anything I say without prompting. With the work she puts in in the offseason, if she forgets, she can just ask, ‘What time am I lifting?’ But she drives it and wants to be good.” 

The leadership of Anna Kessler, combined with the depth the Eagles have developed in the sprinting events, has them enjoying their strongest season since Adam Kessler took over as coach in 2018. 

Watterson is preparing for the CCL meet May 10 and 12 at DeSales before the Division I postseason begins with district competition May 19 at Hilliard Darby. The Eagles are in district 3, which continues May 20 and concludes May 22, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to the regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North. 

Anna Kessler, who was fourth in the 60 meters and ran on the first-place 800 relay in the state indoor finale March 7 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, finished ninth in the 100 in the 2019 state outdoor meet and also was a regional qualifier in the 200 that season. 

“I feel like it’s been a good season,” she said. “It’s felt really good to be back out with my teammates. We had such a good season (in 2019) and last year we were going to have a good season with some new people, and not having that really sucked, but having it now, we all just cherish it more. This is the last big year for us and we’re really glad to be here.” 

In the 15-team Gary Smith Invitational on May 1 at Thomas Worthington, Kessler won the 200 (25.01 seconds) as the Eagles captured the title (146).

Also placing first were senior Grace Jenkins in the 100 (12.27), senior Erin Connors in the 300 hurdles (47.11), sophomore Hannah Brady in the long jump (17 feet, 1/2 inch), the 400 relay (49.45), 800 relay (1:45.17) and 1,600 relay (4:05.41). 

According to coach Kessler, Anna likely will run the 100 and 200 as well as compete on two relays in the postseason. 

She has committed to William & Mary. 

“I feel like I’ve progressed a lot and have gotten more top-end speed,” she said. “I feel more confident and self-assured. 

“Most of our talks at the dinner table are about track season, so it’s nice. You can tell with the team that no one’s really mad about anything he puts me in. He made me a senior captain, but I earned the spot, too, and it’s not just because I’m the coach’s daughter. I’ve been doing track since fourth grade. My dad wanted me to do it, but I’ve stuck with it.” 

Cam Nickleson and the Eagles boys track team are gearing up for the Division II, district 1 meet May 18, 19 and 22 at Westerville North.

Distance crew leads 

boys track team 

The boys track team finished fifth (64.5) in the Gary Smith Invitational behind champion Thomas (142) as the 6,400 relay of senior Will Garey and juniors Max Hall, Cris Kubatko and Max Latshaw was first (18:29.3), Garey was runner-up in the 3,200 (9:42.03) and Latshaw was third in the 3,200 (9:45.77). 

While most of the teams in the meet were Division I programs, the Eagles will open the postseason with the Division II, district 1 meet May 18, 19 and 22 at Westerville North. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 27 and 29 at Lexington. 

The same four runners from the 6,400 relay won the 3,200 relay in 8:19.44 on April 24 in the 13-team Wildcat Invitational at Westerville South as the Eagles captured the title with 118 points.  

In addition, Garey won the 1,600 (4:27.19). 

“It’s a solid group, really special,” Garey said. “We’ve been working really hard the past couple months to the point where I’m really happy with how we’re doing right now and I think there’s a lot of improvement coming.” 

At the state indoor finale, Garey finished third in the 800 and Latshaw was second in the 3,200. 

Having that season – combined with what the distance corps gained last fall when Garey finished 24th and Hall, Kubatko and Latshaw also competed in the state cross country meet – is something Garey believes has helped set up the group for success this spring. 

“The indoor season definitely helped out a lot,” Garey said. “We’re definitely happy with how we’ve come out for the outdoor season.” 

Also at the Smith Invitational, senior Tyler Young was runner-up in the long jump (21-1), senior Cam Nickleson finished third in the 100 (11.26) and shot put (46-5 1/2), Kubatko was fourth in the 1,600 (4:35.87), senior Carson Blank was fifth in the 110 hurdles (16.68) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (43.96) and the 800 relay (1:34.34) and 1,600 relay (3:36.24) both were fifth. 

Boys lacrosse team 

preps for tourney 

Among the boys lacrosse team’s losses this season were tight contests against Columbus Academy and DeSales.

The Eagles likely will have to get through at least one, if not both, of those teams if they’re to reach the Division II state tournament after last winning a regional title in 2017. 

Watterson was 9-5 after beating Granville 19-11 on May 3.

The Eagles lost to DeSales 12-10 on April 14 in their CCL opener and play their other league contest May 14 at home against St. Charles, which beat DeSales 9-6 on April 27. If Watterson beats the Cardinals, the teams would finish in a three-way tie for the title. 

Watterson lost 15-13 to Academy on April 20. 

“There’s no doubt about it that we’ve made some pretty young and silly mistakes over a couple of our losses for sure that are easily correctable,” coach Chris Sauter said. “We’re right where we need to be. We’re playing at a good rate right now and are at a good place while we’ve definitely got some room for improvement.” 

In a 10-6 win over Hilliard Davidson on May 1, junior attacker Jack Henry had three goals to lead the offense. 

Junior Chris Sauter Jr. scored six goals against DeSales and six in a 17-11 win over Dublin Coffman on April 10. 

Senior long-stick midfielder Henry Blevins and freshman goalie Elliott Baur have been among the standouts on defense. 

“As a young team, we’ve been concentrating on doing the basics really, really well,” coach Sauter said.  

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek