Watterson Roundup: Eagles girls track squad wins two state titles

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Erin Connors reacts after securing the Eagles' Division I state championship in the 1,600-meter relay June 5 at Hilliard Darby. The relay finished in a program-record 3 minutes, 50.1 seconds.

Leading as she ran the final stretch of the 1,600-meter relay, Watterson senior Erin Connors felt a burst of adrenaline when she glanced over her shoulder and noticed she was about to be passed.

As was often the case this spring, though, it was just too difficult for opposing runners to get the better of the Eagles girls track and field team, particularly when a title was on the line. 

Connors held her ground, helping the Eagles finish the race in a program-record 3 minutes, 50.1 seconds to capture the Division I state championship in the event June 5 at Hilliard Darby, just ahead of Cincinnati Mercy McAuley (3:50.58). 

“(Mercy McAuley’s anchor) caught me and I was like, ‘Shoot, I’ve got to go,’ ” Connors said. “I was not going to let her beat me. It feels really great. … We just keep surprising ourselves.” 

The Eagles, featuring one of the state’s top sprint corps, finished third (33 points) in the two-day state meet as Mentor (70) won the title and Gahanna (36) was runner-up. 

Also June 5, the 800 relay of seniors Grace Jenkins, Anna Kessler and Cailin O’Reilly and sophomore Sydney Workman ran 1:39.69 to edge Euclid (1:39.73) for the championship as Jenkins ran the anchor leg. 

“It means a lot after not having our season last year and getting to come out with three of us who were seniors (on the 800 relay),” O’Reilly said. 

Jenkins, who was a first-year track competitor, also ran on the fourth-place 400 relay (48.3) with Kessler, Workman and junior Jordan Morales. 

Connors was joined on the 1,600 relay by Morales, O'Reilly and Jenkins.

“I was going to come out last year, but then all the COVID stuff happened,” Jenkins said. “I wanted to have fun and it was something to do, but it turned into so much more and I’m so proud of our team.” 

Kessler, who has committed to William & Mary, also was fifth in the 100 (12.3) and eighth in the 200 (26.05). 

Sophomore Erin Karas finished sixth in the 1,600 (5:02.83) and ran on the 14th-place 3,200 relay (9:34.05) with senior Brooklyn Brush and juniors Riley Connors and Claire Sugar. 

“It’s been long and hot but it’s been really exciting,” Karas said. “I was really prepared coming into this year and I think it’s going to set me up for success in future years.” 

Sophomores Hannah Brady and Taylor Young, who provided depth in sprinting events and also competed in the long jump, are others eligible to return along with juniors Leah Hetteberg (distance) and Amelia Moreland (high jump), sophomores Eden Brush (distance) and Maggie Johnson (discus, shot put) and freshman Mia Gill (sprints). 

“It was a great group of kids,” coach Adam Kessler said. “Out of the 10 girls that we brought to state, five were seniors, so we’ve got some talent coming back, but it kind of played out as I was hoping it would. I thought we had the potential to win a couple state titles in the relays.” 

Watterson’s Max Latshaw (center) placed fifth in the 3,200 (9:40.69) in the Division II state meet June 5 at Pickerington North.

Boys track team 

closes year at state 

Of the four athletes who represented the boys track team in the Division II state meet, three are eligible to return. 

In that group is junior Max Latshaw, who placed fifth in the 3,200 (9:40.69) on June 5 at Pickerington North.

Senior Will Garey finished ninth in the 1,600 (4:26.37) and junior Cris Kubatko was 10th in the 3,200 (9:55.8). 

On June 4, Garey, Kubatko and Latshaw joined junior Max Hall on the 11th-place 3,200 relay (8:13.46). 

“I’m happy with what this team has been doing,” Garey said. “I’m hoping to come back next year and see them break some school records and place pretty high.” 

Watterson, which won a district team title and was regional runner-up, also will lose to graduation five others who competed at regional in Carson Blank (hurdles), Spencer Mandzak (sprints), Cam Nickleson (sprints), Nick Youell (sprints) and Tyler Young (sprints, long jump). 

Sophomore Mason Bermudez, who was a regional qualifier in the 400 and placed at district in the long jump, should be another key returnee. 

Others eligible to return include sophomores Finn Kephart (distance) and Seven Scott (high jump) and freshmen Jake McCann (sprints) and Dominic Rubino (hurdles). 

“We got the regional runner-up, which was great, and I believe that was the first time in school history we’ve done that,” coach Kessler said. “It was a very successful season with the boys.” 

Lacrosse teams to 

return deep rosters 

Both the boys and girls lacrosse teams entered the offseason after making state semifinals in Division II. 

The biggest losses for the boys team after it went 14-7 are seniors Andrew Bettendorf (midfielder), Henry Blevins (long-stick midfielder) and Tanner Mercer (midfielder). Blevins was the Player of the Year in Region 7, Bettendorf was first-team all-region and Mercer made the second team. 

Juniors Jack Henry (attacker) and Kevin Hinsman (defender) and freshmen Elliott Baur (goalie) and Angelo Lamatrice (face-off midfielder), all of whom were first-team all-region, and junior Chris Sauter Jr. (attacker), who was second-team all-region, should lead the returnees. 

Henry had 59 goals, Sauter scored 49 and freshman attacker Braxton Rundio added 41.

Freshman Dominic Pursell (defensive midfielder) is another key player eligible to return.

“We’re super happy with the season,” coach Chris Sauter Sr. said. “Our culture is really strong and I’d expect that you’ll be seeing us here a few more times.” 

The girls lacrosse team finished 17-6. 

Leading the way was junior Zoe Coleman, an attacker who has committed to Ohio State and was first-team all-state and all-region with 99 goals and 48 assists. 

Also earning first-team all-region honors was freshman midfielder Carly Henry, who had 32 goals and 17 assists. 

Senior Caroline Slater (defender) and junior Makenna Twombly (attacker) were second-team all-region and junior Brooke Biagi (midfielder) was honorable mention. Twombly had 60 goals and 20 assists. 

Victoria Alves (attacker), Aubrey Bower (goalie) and Abbie Foltz (defender) also were key seniors.

Others eligible to return include juniors Isabella Eramo (defender), Kathryn Hall (goalie) and Kate Geswein (attacker) and sophomores Katie Bettendorf (midfielder), Maggie Best (attacker), Lilly Goodfellow (midfielder) and Meg Newcomb (attacker). Bettendorf scored 33 goals and Hall split time in goal with Bower. 

“I’m so proud of them,” coach Eileen Barrett said. “When we first started, I would have never thought we’d be where we are. Just coming in as a first-year coach it takes a while to build a program and start from the ground up.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BOYS LACROSSE 

Record: 14-7 overall  

CCL standings: St. Charles (2-0), DeSales (1-1), Watterson (0-2) 

Seniors lost: Andrew Bettendorf, Henry Blevins, Brian Hall, Tanner Mercer, Zac Passino and Alex Stevenson 

Key returnees: Elliott Baur, Jack Henry, Kevin Hinsman, Angelo Lamatrice, Dominic Purcell, Braxton Rundio and Chris Sauter Jr. 

Postseason: Defeated Buckeye Valley 20-1, def. Dayton Chaminade Julienne 18-4, def. Columbus Academy 10-7, def. DeSales 9-7, lost to Cincinnati Mariemont 11-8 in Division II state semifinal 

GIRLS LACROSSE 

Record: 17-6 overall  

CIL standings: DeSales (7-0), Watterson (7-1), Columbus School for Girls (5-3), Bexley (4-3-1), Academy (4-4), Hartley (3-5), Granville (2-4-1), Wellington (1-6), Buckeye Valley (0-7) 

Seniors lost: Victoria Alves, Molly Balyeat, Abbie Foltz, Victoria Gaughan, Sydney Johnson, Bridget Korn, Krishna Patel and Caroline Slater 

Key returnees: Katie Bettendorf, Brooke Biagi, Zoe Coleman, Isabella Eramo, Kate Geswein, Lily Goodfellow, Carly Henry, Meg Newcomb and Makenna Twombly 

Postseason: Def. Wellington 23-2, def. Academy 12-9, def. Worthington Kilbourne 10-9 (OT), def. DeSales 10-9, lost to Mariemont 14-13 in Division II state semifinal 

TRACK & FIELD 

CCL standings: Boys —Watterson (172), St. Charles (137), Hartley (94), DeSales (70), Ready (15); Girls — Watterson (214), DeSales (119), Hartley (117), Ready (33) 

Seniors lost: Boys — Kervin Azor, Carson Blank, Patrick Jesse, Matthew Johnson, Spencer Mandzak, Cam Nickleson, Colin Thomas, Nick Youell and Tyler Young; Girls — Brooklyn Brush, Erin Connors, Grace Jenkins, Olyvia Kennedy, Anna Kessler, Claire Mackin and Cailin O’Reilly 

Key returnees: Boys — Mason Bermudez, Max Hall, Cris Kubatko, Max Latshaw, Jake McCann and Dominic Rubino; Girls — Hannah Brady, Eden Brush, Riley Connors, Leah Hetteberg, Erin Karas, Jordan Morales, Claire Sugar and Sydney Workman 

Postseason: Boys — First (122) at district, second (47) at regional behind Sandusky Perkins (77), tied for 52nd (4) at state behind champion Peninsula Woodridge (43); Girls — First (139) at district, second (68) at regional behind Gahanna (84), third (33) at state behind champion Mentor (70)