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Rebuild. Renew. Restore. A Fall Sports Preview

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WC Sports Teams Begin Fall Looking for Improvement.


If the Worthington Christian’s varsity football team is to build on last year’s success, the team must become “Road Warriors.”

Worthington Christian, which will compete as an independent this year, opened the season with a 1-1 record in its first two games. The Warriors lost at Danville 55-21 on Aug. 18 and defeated visiting Dayton Christian 48-6 on Aug. 25. This year, the Warriors play six of their ten games, including five of their last six, on the road.

“We have a much more challenging schedule this year,” said coach Jeff Hartings, whose team captured the MSL-Ohio Division championship and finished 8-4 overall after losing to Bellaire 42-15 in the second round of the Division VI playoffs last season.

“I do not set goals as most people view them.  I believe the process is the product, so I aim to have all coaches and players consistently have a mindset to improve.  We need to create good practice plans and give maximum effort. Then we will maximize our ability to perform.”

The Warriors, who averaged 41.5 points a game and scored over 60 points three times last season, hope to get the most out of the return of senior Hobie Raikes. The four-year starter at quarterback completed 152 of 240 passes for 2,448 yards with 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. Additionally, Raikes rushed for 186 yards and three TDs on 72 carries.

Raikes has a host of targets coming back. Senior receivers Camden St. John (three catches for 25 yards) and Hunter Anderson (two catches for 20 yards) and junior wide receivers Cameron Robinson (who hauled in 27 catches for 558 yards and eight touchdowns last year), Jacob Corbin (eight receptions for 134 yards and two TDs) and Caleb Holt (two receptions for 15 yards) and junior tight end Luke Hermiz (five catches for 35 yards and one TD) all return.

The Warriors also return senior Dax Zartman (who rushed for 115 yards and two TDs on 15 carries in 2022) at running back and an experienced offensive line of seniors Andre Priest, Tife Adesioye, Jonathan Bauman, and Joshua Heredia-Aguirre. Junior Rylan Kuerschner and sophomore Emmanuel Gyapong are expected to contribute at center and guard.

The defense, which allowed only 18.8 points a game with shutouts of Dayton Christian and Berne Union a year ago, will rely on the experience of Zartman, a four-year starter at linebacker. Last year, Zartman led the defense with 53 tackles (32 solo tackles and 42 assists), had 2.5 sacks, and eight tackles for losses. Zartman also returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown and forced a fumble. Anderson (6.5 tackles last year) joins Robinson (11.5 tackles, four pass breakups), Holt (11 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one recovered fumble) and Corbin (22 tackles, one interception) in the defensive backfield. The defensive line is powered by Adesioye (21 tackles, including two for loss), Bauman (14.5 tackles), Gyapong, Heredia-Aguirre (20.5 tackles, including six for loss, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble), and Priest (24 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery). 

St. John (who made 58 out of 62 extra points last year) is back as a placekicker, and Raikes (who averaged 30 yards a punt) returns as a punter.
“Our commitment level, ability to avoid being distracted by negativity from within and outside the locker room, and how we respond to positive and negative events are going to be the three keys for us,” Hartings said. “Coaches need to stay focused on teaching the students to improve daily. The Process is the Product.  We want to play our best football in the playoffs.”

Cross Country

The girls’ cross country team begins its season without Zoe Ward, the school’s first state qualifier since Michelle Burson (WC ’98)  made it in 1997.

Coach Michael Schaefer hopes the school will not have to wait another 24 years to be represented at the Division III state meet.

“My goal is to increase the number of kids competing in the postseason,” Schaefer said. “I hope to have at least one representative from the boys and girls side in the regional meet and beyond.

“We’ve also been 1-2 places outside of a team qualifying finish at the Division III Central District meet a few times in the past, and I’d really like to have a team qualify for the regional meet.”

Ward placed 63rd in the 2022 Division III state meet in 20 minutes, 25.1 seconds, and 64th in 2021 (20:10.9).

The girls’ team, which finished fifth out of seven teams in the Mid-State League Ohio Division and was sixth in the Central District meet last year, returned a handful of runners.

Senior Annie White, who will captain the team, was honorable mention all-conference last year. Classmate Emma Unger, who returns from an injury last year, placed sixth in the 1,600-meter run in the Division III regional meet last year and was part of the Warriors’ 4 x 800 state-qualifying relay team during track season last spring.

Those two will be bolstered by juniors Kenzie Krapenc, Anjali Paul, Natalie Ryan, and sophomore Elizabeth Fry. Ryan was also on the 4 x 800 relay team that made it to the state meet during track last year.

The girls’ team added nine new members, including seven freshmen, to its roster. Olive Edgel and Palynn Wray had successful cross-country careers at their previous schools.

The boys’ team, which placed sixth at the MSL-Ohio meet and ninth in the district, will be captained by seniors Matt Koran and Joe Spires.

Schaefer expects big things from juniors Dylan Wooten, Aaron Van Dop, Hayden Huffer, and sophomore Joel Bauman. Wooten was an honorable mention all-league last season, and Huffer was the 400-meter district champion in track last spring.

The boys’ and girls’ teams will be tested mentally this season.

“Runners often need to overcome themselves. Running can be a mental game, and we need to have the right focus so as not to hinder ourselves,” Schaefer said. “It’s easy to get distracted by fixating on other athletes who may be faster, rather than having a mindset that’s confident in our abilities. 

“I’d like to see the team come together in competition more. Cross country is usually considered an individual sport, but when teammates can stick together on the race course, it pushes them much more. The best motivator in racing is often a fellow teammate.”

Boys Golf

Boys golf coach Tom Burns believes he has one of the state’s top three Division III teams this year. However, he worries the Warriors might not get a chance to show it.

Only one team, the district champion, can advance to the state tournament. Since it was limited to one state team qualifier in 2015, the Central District has produced three state champions, one runner-up, and two third-place finishers.

“Given the nature of the OHSAA golf tournament in Ohio, there’s no consolation for us unless we win our district tournament,” said Burns, whose team won the 2017 state title. “I believe we are one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the state in Division III, but we have to win our district tournament to advance to the state tournament, which will all be decided in one round. 

“It’s a lot of pressure for these boys, but they can do it, and advancing that far is the team goal.”

Worthington Christian will rely on the strength of its upperclassmen this season. The Warriors are led by seniors Everett Burns, who has been on the varsity for four years and was honorable mention all-district last season, and Caleb Chmielewski, who is shooting for his third varsity letter. Key returnees include juniors Grant Carter, Jeremiah Mulpas, and Nick Pihl. Coach Burns also expects senior Christian Tucker, sophomore Dennis Smith, and freshman Curtis Crager to contribute.

“Our top five is solid, and barring injury or other unforeseen circumstance, they will be our roster for the postseason tournaments,” Coach Burns said. “The key to that will be simply playing our best golf in early October. We need to take the foundation we’re building right now and have all five of our guys playing to the best of their ability (at the district tournament) on Oct. 4 at Turnberry. If we do that, we have a realistic shot at winning the state tournament because to get there, we will have to beat the likely best Division III team in the state.”

Girls Golf

Last season, the girls’ golf team showed coach Louis So glimpses of how good it could be. When they were clicking together, the Warriors were a solid team. They recorded a school record 368 to finish fifth out of 17 teams at the Bloom-Carroll Invitational last year.

“I believe we can turn in scores like that, but we need everybody to be consistent,” So said. “The girls’ team is not big, with only five players last year. We had like three consistent players, but it seemed like we were always short. This year, we are looking to build on that. We retained our top players and picked up two freshmen this year.”

The Warriors, who finished sixth in the district with a 404 behind champion Columbus Academy (329), return senior Rachel Hooley, who was second-team all-district, juniors Sophie Burns and Trina So and sophomore Milli DeVenne. Expected to help the team out are freshmen Gracie Burchwell and Abby Bauder.

“Golf is such a mental game,” So said. “In basketball or soccer, you miss a shot, run, and just keep playing.

“In golf, you have to walk to the next hole, and you can dwell on your misses more. We need the players to continue to develop their technique, especially in the short game.”

Boys Soccer

The boys’ soccer team has been a staple in the Division III Central District championship since OHSAA created a third division in 2000. The Warriors have claimed 16 district titles, including last year, and finished as the district runner-up five times.

With the return of seven senior leaders mixing in with youth, coach Dan Roads believes he has the raw ingredients for another deep run this season.

“Our goals are to walk worthy, worship, and win league, district, and regional titles,” said Roads, whose team finished 13-6-2 last season. “We are a young team with 12 varsity players who are seeing their first varsity minutes this year.

“The right development of our seven seniors into leaders and strong players on the field will be the key for us this year. High school soccer demands that players handle adversity with grit and composure. We are working on that every day.”

The Warriors, off to a 1-1-2 start in its first four matches this season, will be led by seniors Sam Blank and midfielders Caleb Van Dop and Brady Graham. Senior Ben Jende and Sammy Owusu-Sarfo, a first-team all-MSL selection last year, will power the team’s offense.

Worthington Christian will be trying to rebuild a defense with ten shutouts last year and didn’t surrender a goal in the postseason until its district final. Seniors Ben Jende and Ryan Miller (goalkeepers) and Jonah Lewis (defender) and sophomore Ethan Carrel (second-team all-league at defender) will anchor the defense.

Roads is expecting big things from freshmen Blake Miller and Oliver Blank.

Last season, Worthington Christian defeated Berlin Hiland 3-1 to win its second consecutive district championship. The season ended with a 1-0 loss to Grandview in a regional semifinal. The Bobcats have ended the Warriors’ season four times since 2017. Each loss has been by a single goal, including a shootout loss in a 2020 district championship.

Girls Soccer

The time between last season’s end and this one’s beginning was a long, uncomfortable wait for the girls’ soccer team. After being tied at 1 at the end of regulation and two overtime periods, Worthington Christian lost to Berlin Hiland 4-2 in a shootout in a Division III Central District championship. The Warriors begin this year ready to return to the district final and, hopefully, win it.

Last year’s district final marked the second consecutive season the Warriors ended their year with a shootout loss in a district final. Since OHSAA created a third division in 2011, the Warriors have made it to the district championship six times, capturing the 2014 Division III title.

“We face a challenging schedule with many DI and DII opponents, and there is only one Division III district (champion) this year for a very talented pool of teams in Columbus,” said coach Luke Fields (WC ’97), whose team finished 14-4-2 last year. “Being healthy and playing as a team are what put you in the position to win a district final.”

Worthington Christian has compiled a 2-1-1 record and outscored opponents 13-3 through its first four matches this season.

The Warriors have retooled their defense, which had eight shutouts and limited opponents to .89 goals a game last season. Seniors Annie Rettstatt, one of the team’s three captains, and Lauren Fife, juniors Bella Kaufman and Brooke Bambe, and sophomores Britton Kibbey and Lily Thompson will anchor the defense while sophomore Jadyn Stults will be at keeper.

Worthington Christian began the season without junior Mclaine Oosterbaan (a three-year starter with 12 goals and three assists last year) and Rachel Fife (who will serve as the team’s manager after sustaining a career-ending injury). Oosterbaan, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district, injured her knee in the preseason.

The Warriors, who averaged 2.95 goals a game last year, return a host of firepower with senior captain Sofia Divine (12 goals, seven assists) and junior captain Madeleine Hulme (12G, 10A) serving as captains. Divine, a four-year starter who served as captain last year, was an all-league, district, and state selection last year, and Hulme was second-team all-league last season. Senior Katie Robinson, junior Katie Mast, and sophomores Anna Meadows and Elle Skidmore will also contribute offensively.

Girls Tennis

*The girls’ tennis team begins the season without Meghan Mayotte, a Division II state singles qualifier, but first-year coach Dino Tsibouris believes he may have inherited an even stronger team than last year.

Mayotte, who helped the girls’ basketball team finish second in the state in 2021, was the first Warrior to make it to the state tournament since Christiana Raymond won the 2006 state title. Mayotte lost to Hamilton Badin’s Caroline Boyle 6-3, 6-4 in the tournament’s first round last fall.

“Having Meghan make it to the state tournament was the highlight of last year,” said Tsibouris (WC ’86). “But this season, the team is just deep, deep, deep.

“We probably have the most technically proficient group of players we’ve ever had as a girls’ team in the school’s history. I think our JV team might be able to beat last year’s varsity.”

And perhaps the best news for Tsibouris is his roster is so incredibly young. The Warriors have only one senior, Ella Rouse, in its varsity lineup.

Junior Emma Flanigan anchors the first singles spot, with freshman Juliette Piper playing second singles and junior Brooke Stone anchoring the third singles slot. In doubles, junior Brooke Winfree and Evie Bourgeois are at first doubles, and Rouse and freshman Tori Bourgeois play second doubles. Tsibouris also expects junior Laurel Burns and freshmen Elise Bourgeois and Brianna Woodruff to contribute to the team.

Worthington Christian hasn’t surrendered a court in its first three matches in 5-0 wins over Ready, DeSales, and Whitehall. The win over the Stallions is telling since the team lost to DeSales 3-2 at the end of last season.

“One of their coaches I am acquainted with said afterward, ‘Your team is a classic example of mental toughness. Stroke for stroke, our players could hit the ball with you, but they couldn’t win the matches,’” Tsibouris said. 

Worthington Christian will need that mental toughness to improve on last season’s 5-10 finish. The Warriors were 1-5 in 3-2 matches during that season.

“One of our goals for this year is to win a substantial number of matches,” Tsibouris said. “But more importantly than that is I want the girls to grow closer together and in their faith.”


For the first time since 2013, the girls’ volleyball team made it to the district championship. It just took the Warriors a long time to get there. Worthington Christian gritted out five-set wins in the tournament’s first two rounds before falling to Fairbanks 25-18, 25-16, 25-16 in a Division III district title match.

“That was a huge accomplishment for us,” said coach Lynn Hartings, whose team finished 13-13 overall and placed third in the MSL-Ohio Division.

“We had solid leadership from our three seniors, and the girls continued to build team unity and community within our team. By the time we reached October, we were playing at our peak.”

Hartings said long matches were the team’s Achilles heel last season.

“We had a lot of close matches that took us to 4 or 5 sets, and then we just couldn’t complete a full game to win,” she said. “Our mental toughness grew so much during the season, and we trusted that the Lord would pick us up when we were down and carry us through to the next game.”

Hartings hopes the team can pick up where the Warriors left off last season. Worthington Christian returns a young team this year, with defensive specialist Elizabeth Houk being the only senior. Sophomore setter Ava Holbrook was voted team captain.

Expected to play key roles this year are junior Courtney Staggs as an outside hitter, sophomores Audrey Wilson at middle hitter, and Emma Steel as libero.

“A goal for this season would be to create the same unity and atmosphere our three seniors created last season,” Hartings said. “We are a young team, but I know that these student-athletes are up for the challenge. I pray that the Lord continues to lead, guide, and direct each student-athlete to use the gifts and talents that God has given to us to glorify Him in all that we do.

“We must lean into young leadership and our ability to play for October when tournament time rolls around. We want to work hard day in and day out at practice and get better every day.”

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