DeSales Roundup: Gabe Weikert wrapping up solid career in goal

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
DeSales boys soccer goalkeeper Gabe Weikert, center, hopes to finish his career with a run at another Division II state championship despite the young Stallions' struggles to date. (Photo courtesy Barb Dougherty)

Gabe Weikert feels the weight of playing for a perennially successful program every time he puts on his DeSales boys soccer uniform.

The seven stars on the team’s logo represent the team’s number of state championships, and even though his senior season isn’t going exactly as he wished, the Stallions’ goalie hopes to help his team add an eighth title.

Weikert simply is not just not as anxious about every game as he might have been a year ago.

“I’ve learned to come in to a game relaxed. I understand this is DeSales and it’s a big deal to be out here. I felt pressure every game (last year),” Weikert said. “Now, as a senior, I am more comfortable. It’s come to a point where I am not nervous (and) just thinking about playing a game. I just have to relax as much as I possibly can and do my job.”

After splitting time on a Division II state semifinalist team as a sophomore behind 2019 graduate Thomas Sauer, Weikert won the starting job for his junior year and helped the team to a Division I district semifinal. He remains the primary goalie this season, although he is splitting time with classmate J.J. Baughman.

With a younger lineup on the field because of turnover and injuries, DeSales was 4-7 overall before playing Columbus Academy on Oct. 3 but finished 3-1 in the CCL with a 7-0 home win over Ready on Sept. 29.

Weikert made 78 saves on 92 shots through 11 games. Baughman stopped 34 of 43 shots.

That Baughman and Weikert both paid their dues coming up through the program made for a tough decision for coach Domenic Romanelli when it came to playing time.

“They’re two good seniors and we wanted to find a way to get them both playing time. They deserve it,” Romanelli said. “Outside Gabe in goal, (we have Alex) Hatcher and Vigo (Bertolo) and (Nick) Kennedy and those are our three senior starters. That’s the least we’ve had here in a long time. We’re still growing up.”

Kennedy and midfielder Ethan Lusenhop, two expected starters, have been injured on and off this season.

Baughman also comes from a strong soccer background. His older brother, J.P., was starting goalie on DeSales’ 2014 and 2015 state title teams and started all 39 of Ohio Wesleyan’s games in 2018 and 2019.

“We’re really good friends. We both know we can play at the next level and we trust each other enough that we don’t mind splitting time,” Baughman said. “It’d be hard to find two other keepers in the state who push each other more than we do.”

Weikert hopes to play in college, potentially in Florida as he pursues studies in conservation biology with a specialization in herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians. He has had an internship with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium since last year.

Weikert has talked to Eckerd College and the University of Tampa as well as Case Western Reserve and Ohio Wesleyan, but he also has more immediate goals.

“I would like to progress to a point where we’re playing more together,” Weikert said. “It comes down to me connecting with the back line with the midfielders and to the forwards. But our eyes are still on a state championship.”

Girls tennis team

prepares for sectional

The girls tennis team fell just short of its first CCL championship since 2008 on Sept. 30 when it fell 5-0 to Watterson at the Park of Roses. It then turned its attention to a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 10, at Pickerington Central.

Molly Ballard, Evelyn Brainard and Maddie Hill will play singles in the postseason. Doubles teams will consist of Ella Dingman and Kat Jolley and Precious Ndayishimye and Amelia Zaremba.

“It’s a tough sectional with Pickerington Central, Bishop Watterson and Watkins Memorial in there, but that's the nature of Division I. You’re going to have a handful of really good teams, regardless of which sectional you (attend),” coach Tom Snyder said. “With our draw, four of the five (first-round) matchups are rematches from the regular season. We went 3-1 in those matches, but they were all competitive and it’s going to be a good challenge.”

Among those rematches is Ballard taking on Newark’s Riley Robinson, against whom she is 3-0 this season, including two tournament matchups.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 15 and 17 at Reynoldsburg.

DeSales was 11-6 overall before playing Whetstone on Oct. 1 and finished 2-1 in the CCL, second behind the Eagles (3-0).

Solid play increasing

for girls soccer team

Girls soccer coach Chris Froehlich hoped the adjustments and growth he saw from his team during a 1-4 start would pay off, and he believes that has been the case over the past month.

DeSales was 3-7-1 overall and 0-2 in the CCL before playing Ready on Oct. 6.

“The first few games we found out pretty quickly what we needed to work on (and) once we got those few things figured out, you started to see the results on the field,” Froehlich said. “We have spurts of really good soccer and those spurts are now becoming the normal for them and once we are on we are playing some really good soccer. The goal now is to just keep the consistency up and keep improving.”

The Stallions’ first two league losses came against state-ranked competition in Watterson (3-0 on Sept. 17) and Hartley (2-0 on Sept. 24). The Eagles were ranked fifth in Division I and the Hawks 15th in Division II in last week’s state poll.

Stefanie Karras led DeSales in goals through 11 games with six.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave