Watterson Roundup: Boys golf squad excited for season

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Junior Carson Trafford is among the top returnees for the Watterson boys golf team and 13th-year coach Olin Melaragno. The Eagles will open CCL action with the league preseason tournament Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Hickory Hills.

One aspect about this season that the Watterson boys golf team is learning to accept is the modifications that will be needed to compete.

On Monday, Aug. 17, the Eagles will be the host program for a new 20-team tournament sponsored by the American Italian Golf Association at York Country Club called the AIGA Classic, but they won't be able to have a sit-down dinner as originally hoped because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Coach Olin Melaragno also has been proud of how his players have behaved around golf courses in regards to safety.

"We as coaches are being so cautious," said Mela-ragno, who is in his 13th season. "People are not gathering in big, large groups. (On Aug. 5) we met apart from each other with our team. We played the match, I collected the scorecards and the kids left afterwards. There was no trophy presentation. It's all about the safety of the kids."

The Eagles opened Aug. 5 by finishing ninth (333) in the 14-team Olentangy Liberty Preview at Delaware Golf Club behind champion St. Charles (300).

Watterson opens CCL action with the preseason tournament Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Hickory Hills.

The Eagles finished second (6-2) in the league last season behind St. Charles (8-0).

The top returnees are sophomore Deacon Pinson and junior Carson Trafford, who shot 75 and 76, respectively, on Aug. 5.

Trafford finished with an 86 last season as Watterson shot 328 to place fifth in a Division I sectional at Denison Golf Club as the top four teams advanced to district.

Senior Adam Pavliga and freshmen Jonah Altiero and Cooper Struckel were the next three highest scorers during tryouts.

Sophomore Noah Stauffer also is a returnee who should contribute.

Senior Gavin Greene and junior Jack Kish are others looking for playing time.

"I had two really good scores (in the Liberty Preview) and had some not so good scores, but I can't be disappointed because (Pavliga, Altiero and Struckel) didn't have any varsity experience," Melaragno said. "I actually had three seniors come out for the first time for golf, so that's very unusual, and I had two freshmen make the top six out of tryouts. I've got two horses and I'm not sure what I'm going to have after that because of the inexperience.

"I'm pretty excited that we've got a young team and we're going to go out and have fun this year. If I can keep Carson and Deacon playing well, we might be able to get a team or individuals out of sectionals."

Girls golf squad returns veteran group

The girls golf team has returned four of its top five players after finishing second (4-2) in the CCL behind DeSales (6-0) last fall.

Juniors Sofia Roncone and Anna Stauffer are the top returnees.

Stauffer finished 16th (91) at last year's Division I sectional at Royal American as the Eagles were sixth (380) but only the top three teams advanced to district.

Senior returnee Victoria Alves had the third-best score during tryouts.

Junior Katherine McGrath and junior returnee Amelia Walker also should be regulars in the lineup.

Others looking to contribute are seniors Hannah Ashmore and Fifi Criswell and sophomore Sydney McKinney.

"Sofia shot an 80 to be the medalist for the team (Aug. 5 in the North Union Invitational at Mill Creek) and could have shot a 76 but missed some putts," second-year coach Mike Crotty said. "I'm counting on her. She's one of my captains and also was the medalist for the qualifier. She's improved quite a bit. Her, Anna and Victoria will be very strong this year."

Watterson competed in the first round of the CCL tournament Aug. 12 at NorthStar, with the final round set for Oct. 10 at the same site.

The only player lost to graduation was Sammy Politz, who had the team's No. 5 score at the sectional last year.

"We did incredibly well last year considering who we were playing against," Crotty said. "We (are in the same district as) New Albany, which was the state champion. We played against Dublin Jerome and we played with Upper Arlington, which was the runner-up in the state. My girls got a little bit more experience and put in a little bit more time on their short game, and they're just as capable of playing well as anyone else.

"Our team goal is to improve on last year and possibly get to the district, and the girls have the desire to work on it. That's a big statement when you understand how good girls golf is in the area."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

At a glance

BOYS GOLF

*Coach: Olin Melaragno, 13th season

*Top players: Jonah Altiero, Adam Pavliga, Deacon Pinson, Cooper Struckel and Carson Trafford

*Key losses: Fred Gilbert, Ryan Newcomb, Michael Reis, Max Ritchey and Patrick Sellers

*2019 CCL standings: St. Charles (8-0), Watterson (6-2), DeSales and Hartley (3-5), Ready (0-8)

*2019 postseason: Fifth at sectional

GIRLS GOLF

*Coach: Mike Crotty, second season

*Top players: Victoria Alves, Katherine McGrath, Sofia Roncone, Anna Stauffer and Amelia Walker

*Key loss: Sammy Politz

*2019 CCL standings: DeSales (6-0), Watterson (4-2), Hartley (2-4), Ready (0-6)

*2019 postseason: Sixth at sectional

The Watterson girls golf team has returned four of its top five players, including junior Anna Stauffer, after finishing second behind DeSales in the league last fall.