DeSales Roundup: Gracey Wilson leaves mark on Stallions athletics

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upon the conclusion of track and field season, senior Gracey Wilson will become the fourth female athlete in DeSales history to earn 12 varsity letters. She will graduate with four letters in basketball, three in both cross country and track and two in soccer.

Gracey Wilson would have been happy to earn eight varsity letters at DeSales between basketball and soccer.

The thought of winning 12 didn’t enter her mind until she took up two new sports she wasn’t even sure she would enjoy.

Wilson will earn the last of her dozen varsity letters upon the conclusion of this track and field season, making her the fourth female athlete in school history to do so. Four came in her favorite sport, basketball, with three in both cross country and track and two in soccer.

Somehow, Wilson has made all of them fit on her letter jacket, although she laughingly calls the back of it “a little messed up, a little jigsaw puzzle.”

“It was a goal to make varsity (in soccer and basketball) but I never thought I’d run,” said Wilson, a third-generation DeSales student who will major in sports management at Coastal Carolina. “I didn’t want to pile it on freshman year, but I played AAU (basketball) so I didn’t want to add even more. But sophomore year, I wanted to run. I wanted to push myself and everything went from there.”

The other three female athletes to win 12 letters at DeSales are 1988 graduates Stacie Rose (basketball, soccer and track) and Carri Volpe (basketball, softball and volleyball) and 2018 graduate Alex Foos (diving, gymnastics, tennis and track).

Wilson grew up in a basketball-oriented household, although she has played that and soccer since elementary school. Her father, B.J., was on the Stallions’ 1987 Class AA boys basketball state championship team and later was an assistant to former girls basketball coach Brian Cromwell.

Wilson was a shooting guard in basketball and played midfielder for the soccer team until moving to defender as a junior.

“Receiving 12 varsity letters is no small achievement, but for Gracey it makes perfect sense,” girls soccer coach Chris Froehlich said. “Gracey is that player every coach dreams about having. She always has a positive attitude, is always one of the hardest workers and never missed a soccer practice or game.”

Wilson added cross country and track for her sophomore year. Her freshman algebra teacher, Amy Schockling, is head cross country coach and works with the track team’s distance runners.

“I could tell even in the classroom that she is such a hard worker and she is so dedicated to everything she’s interested in,” Schockling said. “I knew from soccer she was very athletic. If she came out for cross country, she’d be a competitive spirit and a hard worker for the team. She absolutely was.”

Wilson helped the cross country team to the CCL championship last fall and this spring is the only senior on the 3,200-meter relay, with sophomores Josie Dages and Ellie Reash and freshman Mary McAllister. Wilson also runs the 800 and 1,600.

“Coming out, I didn’t know what an 800 was. I didn’t know how many times around (the track) that was. I knew four laps was a mile for soccer but other than that, I knew nothing else,” Wilson said. “People always ask me the question ‘do you like running?’ I don’t know if anybody likes running, but I happen to have pretty good times. I don’t mind it. It’s a stress reliever.”

Gabby Mahaffey and DeSales earned the top seed in the Division II, Region 7 tournament. The Stallions play host to Dayton Carroll or Olentangy Berlin in a second-round game May 22.

Girls lacrosse team

rolls into postseason

After a grueling early schedule that included losses to defending Division I state champion Upper Arlington and 2019 state runner-up New Albany, the girls lacrosse team hit its stride by going 8-1 in a nine-game stretch before a 19-6 loss at Thomas Worthington on May 11.

DeSales was 11-6 before playing Olentangy on May 13 and is the top seed in the Division II, Region 7 tournament. The Stallions play host to ninth-seeded Dayton Carroll or 11th-seeded Olentangy Berlin in a second-round game May 22.

“We have our work cut out for us. We have to continue to get to that level of play we need for the tournament,” coach Joe Finotti said. “It’s been a roller-coaster season but we’re beginning to put things together. The biggest thing is we’re becoming 100% healthy, which we couldn’t say at the beginning of the year, and then just the way the players are jelling together. It took us a little while to jell on the field, and our defense is coming along and stepping up, too. Offensively, we’re putting some more points on the board than we were early in the year.”

Defender Lauren Clayton missed the team’s first several games because of an injury, and midfielder Gabby Mahaffey missed time in April because of a concussion. Despite her brief absence, Finotti called Mahaffey the team’s leader on offense along with attacker Gianna Cua.

The second-round winner will play fourth-seeded Bexley, fifth-seeded Columbus School for Girls, eighth-seeded Hartley or 13th-seeded Chillicothe in a regional semifinal May 25 at the better-seeded team’s home field. The regional final is May 28.

DeSales defeated Bexley 14-9 on May 6, Carroll 18-5 on May 7, CSG 14-10 on April 13 and Hartley 14-7 on March 26. The win over Bexley clinched the Stallions’ fifth consecutive Central Independent League championship after they won their sixth CCL title in a row earlier in the season.

Softball team

falls in first round

Six junior starters, including the primary pitcher and entire infield, are eligible to return for the softball team as it tries to build on its first CCL championship since 2015.

DeSales went 11-13 overall and 5-1 in the league. Seeded 25th in the 46-team Division I district tournament, the Stallions fell at 23rd-seeded Groveport 1-0 in a first-round game May 10.

Junior pitcher Madison Wehrman struck out four, walked one and allowed one run on an RBI double by Groveport pitcher Kendyll Cahill in the first inning.

“We were not expecting a pitching duel. Both girls did a great job for seven innings and Madison kept them off balance,” coach Rick Conti said. “We hung in. We had some opportunities and couldn’t get anything across the plate.”

Seniors Kendall Gonya (C) and Lauren Mitevski (OF) are among the team’s losses to graduation.

The entire infield is expected back in juniors Kaitlin Kovach (3B), Jessica Melvin (SS), Alena Stewart (1B) and Maggie Valentine (2B) as well as classmate and outfielder Andrea Millenbaugh and sophomore Kennedy Hawk (INF).

“(Winning) the CCL was a great shot in the arm, especially having a lot of juniors coming on to varsity with no varsity experience,” Conti said. “We’re expecting big things. We’ll meet and lay out next year’s plans. They’ll have to work hard. Remember this feeling from losing the last game and turn that into greater things.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

SOFTBALL

Record: 11-13 overall

CCL standings: DeSales (5-1), Watterson (4-2), Ready (2-4), Hartley (1-5)

Seniors lost: Haley Bentley, Bre Callahan, Kendall Gonya and Lauren Mitevski

Key returnees: Kaitlin Kovach, Jessica Melvin, Andrea Millenbaugh, Alena Stewart, Maggie Valentine and Madison Wehrman

Postseason: Lost to Groveport 1-0 in first round of Division I district tournament