Watterson Roundup: Eagles boys tennis squad enjoys strong season

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson senior Adam Pavliga teamed with classmate Johnny DiOrio to reach the Division II district tournament in doubles. The pair also helped the Eagles finish 14-1 overall and 3-1 in the CCL.

As his team was preparing for the season, Watterson boys tennis coach Ryan Schwieterman talked with senior Johnny DiOrio about where he’d best fit in the lineup. 

DiOrio was an option at second singles but was interested in playing doubles with senior Adam Pavliga, and Schwieterman obliged. 

About two months later, DiOrio and Pavliga played their final prep match as teammates in the Division II district tournament. 

“Johnny was a singles player and we had a long conversation at the beginning of the season,” Schwieterman said. “He wanted to play doubles and I was hesitant. They sold me on it and looking back, us going 14-1 and them making it (to district), it worked. We won a lot of matches with our (first) singles, (first) doubles and (one other court). They did their part.” 

DiOrio and Pavliga finished third in the sectional that concluded May 15 at Columbus Academy and lost to Bexley’s Will Meyer and Stefan Schiff 6-2, 6-1 in the first round at district. 

Senior Nick Geelan lost in a district semifinal in singles. 

“We played well all year together,” DiOrio said. “We were really happy to have (a season). We struggled with injuries before the season, and so for us to be out and get to play is a miracle in itself. We’re both grateful.” 

DiOrio plans to attend the University of Notre Dame and is considering playing club tennis, while Pavliga plans to attend Ohio State and hopes to be a part of the club hockey program.

“It’s special because we’ve never made it this far before and we’re best friends, so playing together all season and getting this far was quite the accomplishment,” Pavliga said. "It was a great season. It was a lot of fun and we improved over the course of the season.” 

Watterson finished second (3-1) in the CCL behind St. Charles (4-0) with Geelan leading the way at first singles. 

Geelan won the sectional title and opened district by beating Bexley’s Blake Simons 6-0, 6-1 before falling 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 to Wellington’s Sanjan Shanker in a semifinal. 

Also in singles, senior Cole Petrilla reached a sectional quarterfinal and freshman Colby Graham lost in the first round. 

In doubles, junior Grant Gilsenan and freshman Tommy Spence reached a sectional quarterfinal. 

Another eligible to return is freshman Ashton Slack. 

“It was a very good season for (Pavliga and DiOrio),” Schwieterman said. “(Geelan played) very well. Nick’s ground-stroke game is insane. His mental play is way improved. You don’t know if he’s winning or losing. He gets in a zone and knows what he wants to do.” 

Junior Dom Orsini and Watterson capped a 15-11 season with a 10-0 loss to Bloom-Carroll on May 24 in a Division II district semifinal.

Baseball team falls 

in district semifinal 

The baseball team was seeded eighth for the Division II district tournament and opened the postseason with a 6-1 victory over 14th-seeded Heath on May 20. 

That moved the Eagles into a district semifinal, where they lost to top-seeded Bloom-Carroll 10-0 on May 24 to finish 15-11. 

Freshman pitcher Nick Kudika tossed a complete game against Heath, striking out seven. Junior Dom Orsini had three hits and two RBI, and senior Max McCann and sophomore Charlie Bernotas both had two hits. 

“We’re a young team and now we’re starting to gain some experience,” coach Jeff Boulware said. “We got a great pitching performance from Nick, who’s a freshman coming out in his first tournament game, and the guys we thought would produce came out and had a good day.” 

Bernotas played center field most of the season, with Orsini in right and sophomore Brandon Trout in left. 

In addition to McCann (C/OF), the Eagles lose three others to graduation in Noah Grayem (INF/P), Noah Gruver (3B/P) and Joe Hite (P/1B). 

Juniors Cole Graney (P), Lance Hall (C/OF), Ryan Kelly (2B/OF), Matthew Monesi (1B/P) and Brian Zetzer (P), sophomore Ryan Rudzinski (P) and freshman A.J. McAninch (P) are others eligible to return. 

“Over the season, we’ve learned to play together,” Orsini said. “Obviously we have a lot of guys that have never played a varsity game. We have a solid outfield with me, Chuck and Trout and I think we cover a lot of ground.” 

Track squads 

win district titles 

For the first time in school history, both the boys and girls track and field teams captured district championships in the same season May 22. 

The girls scored 139.5 points in the 15-team Division I, district 3 meet at Hilliard Darby to give the team its first district title. 

The boys scored 122 points to top a 14-team Division II, district 1 field at Westerville North, earning the team’s second district title and first since 1979. 

Winning titles for the girls were Grace Jenkins in the 400 meters (57.63 seconds), Erin Karas in the 1,600 (5:04.62) and 3,200 (11:31.46), Anna Kessler in the 100 (11.94) and 200 (25.42), Cailin O’Reilly in the high jump (5 feet, 1 inch), the 800 relay of Jenkins, Kessler, O’Reilly and Sydney Workman (1:41.65), the 1,600 relay of Erin Connors, O’Reilly, Workman and Jordan Morales (3:57.39) and the 3,200 relay of Brooklyn Brush, Riley Connors, Karas and Claire Sugar (9:33.37).

Also advancing to regional were Brush in the 800 (third, 2:25.22), Erin Connors in the 100 hurdles (third, 15.39) and 300 hurdles (second, 45.71), Sugar in the 800 (fourth, 2:25.8) and the 400 relay of Kessler, Morales, Workman and Taylor Young (second, 49.2). 

Capturing championships for the boys were Will Garey in the 1,600 (4:22.42), Max Latshaw in the 3,200 (9:46.67), Cam Nickleson in the 100 (11.19), Tyler Young in the long jump (21-3) and the 3,200 relay of Garey, Max Hall, Cris Kubatko and Latshaw (8:10.22). 

Also advancing to regional were Mason Bermudez in the 400 (fourth, 51.42), Carson Blank in the 110 hurdles (third, 16.47) and 300 hurdles (fourth, 42.12), Garey in the 800 (second, 1:58.19), Kubatko in the 3,200 (10:07.93), Nickleson in the shot put (third, 46-0), Young in the 200 (third, 22.92), the 400 relay of Spencer Mandzak, Nickleson, Colin Thomas and Young (second, 44.02), the 800 relay of Bermudez, Mandzak, Jake McCann and Young (fourth, 1:32.65) and the 1,600 relay of Bermudez, Garey, McCann and Nick Youell (fourth, 3:31.7). 

The top four in each event in the Division I regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North advanced to state at Darby, and the top four in each event in the Division II regional May 27 and 29 at Lexington advanced to state at North. The state meet is June 4 and 5.

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BASEBALL 

Record: 15-11 overall  

CCL standings: Hartley (6-2), DeSales (5-3), St. Charles and Watterson (both 4-4), Ready (1-7) 

Seniors lost: Noah Grayem, Noah Gruver, Joe Hite and Max McCann 

Key returnees: Charlie Bernotas, Cole Graney, Nick Kudika, A.J. McAninch, Dom Orsini and Brandon Trout 

Postseason: Defeated Heath 6-1; lost to Bloom-Carroll 10-0 in Division II district semifinal 

BOYS TENNIS 

Record: 14-1 overall  

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

Seniors lost: Johnny DiOrio, Nick Geelan, Adam Pavliga and Cole Petrilla 

Key returnees: Grant Gilsenan, Colby Graham and Tommy Spence