Pickerington North Roundup: 'Hard work and grit' propelled Nick Whitehead on course

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
North senior Nick Whitehead trails Cleveland St. Ignatius' Sean Uhran while running in the Division I state meet Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz. Whitehead finished 114th of 177 competitors. “He’s just hard work and grit,” coach Tim Starkey said.

Pickerington North boys cross country senior Nick Whitehead ended his career with his third consecutive Division I state meet appearance Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz, although this was the first time he ran without his teammates.

Whitehead finished 114th of 177 individuals in 17 minutes, 3 seconds, capping a season that thoroughly pleased coach Tim Starkey. Whitehead also was 12th (16:30.3) in the regional meet Oct. 31 on the Panthers’ home course.

“He’s just hard work and grit. He’s all about beating the guy right next to him,” Starkey said. “(To qualify individually for state), that’s a huge testament to his character. The guys wanted to prove themselves this year without (2020 graduates) Matt (Duvall) and Harper (Moore) and Nick did just that. It’s a thrill for him to get to finish his senior year at state.”

Duvall — last year’s individual state champion — and Moore now run at Kentucky.

Whitehead finished 155th at state as a sophomore and 163rd as a junior.

According to Starkey, trimming Whitehead’s workload helped him toward the end of the season.

“We found out he was doing our workouts with the team and then going home and putting in an extra four, five or six miles to build his base,” Starkey said. “We cut out the extra mileage (leading up to regional) and I think that made a huge difference.”

The rest of North’s top seven to end the season is eligible to return in juniors Isaac Glanzman and Jackson Roes, sophomores Aidan Eberhardt, Justin Schumacher and Collin Searfoss and freshman Ian Ricker.

The girls team won the OCC-Ohio Division championship and finished sixth (208) at regional behind champion Hilliard Davidson (42), falling one spot shy of a state berth. The girls also expect to return most of the lineup led by junior Emma Rittman, who was 21st at regional in 19:54.1 — just 0.2 of a second behind the final state qualifier.

Also scoring were sophomore Ashley Khatib (33rd, 20:23.1), freshman Maya Roes (59th, 20:53.9), senior Emily Harness (76th, 21:11.8) and junior Gia Wetherell (79th, 21:13.9).

Junior Lainy Grube, sophomore Evy Agganis and freshman Camille Sabau also saw time in the top seven this season.

North junior midfielder Jacob Henry heads the ball as New Albany’s Will Fischer looks on during the Panthers' 2-1 loss to the Eagles on Nov. 4 in a Division I regional semifinal. North finished 16-3-1.

Boys soccer team

falls in regional

The boys soccer team’s second Division I district championship in three years highlighted a season in which North went 16-3-1 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Ohio.

The Panthers finished second in the league, one game behind New Albany, and also fell 2-1 to the host Eagles in a regional semifinal Nov. 4.

Senior defender Cam Stanzione scored North’s goal with 14 minutes to play and senior goalie Ty Bowden made four saves.

“We had several opportunities at the very end. We failed to capitalize on those and they move on and we don’t,” said coach Darrin Monhollen, whose team also lost 1-0 to New Albany on Oct. 6. 

“If I said it one time, I said 10 times when we were breaking things down at the very end (after the regional semifinal), we’re extremely proud of the guys and how well they did and how well they treated each other and everything else. This was a special season. I don’t want them to forget what they achieved.”

Junior forward Uche Odemena scored a team-leading 16 goals. Senior midfielder Nico Briones added 11 and senior midfielder Evan Yurko finished with nine, including the only goal in a 1-0 win at Olentangy Liberty in a district final Oct. 31.

Odemena and Stanzione were named first-team all-league. Bowden, Briones and junior defender Donovan Williams were second-team all-league, senior midfielder Tyler Reitano was honorable mention all-league and junior midfielder Jacob Henry was honorable mention all-league.

Reitano is an Ohio Dominican commit.

In addition to Henry, Odemena and Williams, other starters eligible to return are junior defenders Aaron Artica-Sanchez and Joel Perez.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

CROSS COUNTRY

OCC-Ohio standings: Boys — New Albany (35), Pickerington North (61), Gahanna (63), Westerville Central (64), Grove City (152), Westland (187); Girls — North (49), Gahanna (50), New Albany (55), Central (58), Grove City (150)

Seniors lost: Boys — Nick Whitehead; Girls — Emily Harness and Audrey Monge

Key returnees: Boys — Aidan Eberhardt, Isaac Glanzman, Ian Ricker, Jackson Roes, Justin Schumacher and Collin Searfoss; Girls — Lainy Grube, Ashley Khatib, Emma Rittman, Maya Roes and Gia Wetherell

Postseason: Boys — Sixth (122) at district behind champion Hilliard Davidson (27); Girls — Third (130) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (55), sixth (208) at regional behind champion Davidson (42)

BOYS SOCCER

Record: 16-3-1 overall

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), North (4-1), Central (3-2), Grove City (2-3), Gahanna (1-4), Westland (0-5)

Seniors lost: Ty Bowden, Nico Briones, Jude Eblin, Jose Zaragoza-Fuentes, Johnny Khatib, Tyler Reitano, David Rome, Cam Stanzione, Alex Watros, Devon Webber, Evan Yurko and Tim Zach

Key returnees: Aaron Artica-Sanchez, Jacob Henry, Uche Odemena, Joel Perez and Donovan Williams

Postseason: Defeated Canal Winchester 3-0; def. Coffman 3-2; def. Olentangy Liberty 1-0; lost to New Albany 2-1 in Division I regional semifinal