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Spring Sports Preview

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Athletic teams prepare for the challenge of the newly formed Central Buckeye League.

Track and Field

After the girls’ track and field team finished as Division III Central District runner-up twice and won a regional championship once in his six-year tenure, Worthington Christian coach Mark Mousa knows it takes more than the strength of one individual’s performance to be successful.

It takes a school-wide effort.

The boys and girls teams have a combined total of 105 students out for track this season. That’s one-fourth of the school’s population.

“There are three reasons why track has become so popular,” Mousa said. “Everyone wants to go faster, be stronger and stay in shape. The second reason is that the meets are long, so you get to spend a lot of time with your teammates. Finally, track is a great sport to goal set. You start at one level, and you try to get better.”

The girls’ team is trying to build on its 59th-place finish at the Division III state meet held last June in Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Stadium.

“Our girls team is riding on a pretty good wave right now,” said Mousa whose girls team had 10 girls participate in the Division III state meet last year. “(That number of state qualifiers) has kind of been the norm over the past few years. We have a lot of strong athletes coming back.”

Worthington Christian graduated its only point scorer from last year’s state meet in Meghan Mayotte, Zoe Ward, and Ellie Cain, half of the team’s 3,200-meter relay. Mayotte tied Lucas’ Shelby Grover for sixth place in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 2 inches to garner the team’s 2.5 points.

The Warriors return six state qualifiers: Emma Unger and Natalie Woodfin, juniors Trinity Godsey and Ellen Mousa, and sophomores Sydney Dolly and Ava Holbrook.

Holbrook and Unger joined Ward and Cain in a 16th-place finish in the 3,200-relay in 10 minutes, 0.4 seconds. The 800-relay team of Dolly, Woodfin, Godsey, and Jamie Custer (1:48.64) and the 400-relay team of Godsey, Mousa and Woodfin and Custer (52.27) both took 17th in their events.

However, the Warriors sustained a major hit when Custer injured her knee during basketball season and is not expected to compete this season. Custer had a chance to become a four-time state competitor this season.

“I feel so bad for her because it’s her senior year,” Mousa said. “But she has a great attitude. She’s already promised me she will come out and be my assistant coach and cheer everyone on.”

However, the Warriors return two 2022 state qualifiers, senior Rachel Fife and junior Natalie Ryan, to its running corps. Ryan, who was part of the Warriors state-qualifying 3,200 relay, and Fife, a member of the Warriors’ state-qualifying 400 relay team in 2022, missed significant time last season with injuries.

The girls team placed third in the Division III district meet with 68.5 points behind champion Fairbanks (124) and runner-up Columbus School for Girls (71) and sixth (61) in the MSL-Ohio meet behind champion Bexley (156).

Mousa expects his team to be challenged by the newly formed Central Buckeye League (CBL).

“Most of the teams in our league, Academy, Whitehall, Buckeye Valley, Bexley, and Bishop Ready, are all Division II teams,” Mousa said. “Our league meet is often harder than our district meet.”

The boys’ team is also looking to improve on last season when the Warriors were sixth in both the district meet with 41 points behind champion Mount Gilead (101) and in the league meet with 53.5 points behind champion Buckeye Valley (156).

“The boys’ team is getting better,” Mousa said. “We’re very young, but we have a huge group of freshman boys who are really excited to go.”

Worthington Christian graduated throwers Josh Carrel, who was the district runner-up in both the shot put (44-11) and the discus (144-6), and Blake Kessler, who was third in the district in the discus (144-0). Junior Hayden Huffer, who captured the Warriors’ lone district title by winning the 400 (51.32), returns.

Most of Worthington Christian’s points came from underclassmen at the league meet. Senior Camden St. John won the high jump by clearing 6-2. Junior Cameron Robinson took second in the long jump (20-2.5), and senior Josh Tagoe was third (19-10).

Mousa is counting on junior Dylan Wooten to strengthen Worthington Christian’s distance running corps and seniors Jax Hollister and Joshua Heredia-Aguirre to fill in the voids among the throwers.

“Our boys’ team should be much more competitive,” Mousa said. “We can fill out more events and relays. Secondly, the boys are just getting stronger, are all a year older, and understand what it takes to be successful.”


A lot has changed for the baseball team. The Warriors have a new coach in Michael Kraynak (WC ’06) and a new league (the CBL).

The team will also be without five players who graduated and long-time coach Tim Kraynak, Michael’s older brother, who resigned at the end of last year from a team that won the Mid-State League-Ohio Division with an 11-1 record and finished 19-7 overall last season.

Kraynak hopes the one thing that won’t be lost is the Warriors’ culture.

“Our culture is something that we stress daily,” Kraynak said. “We work hard to develop three things: culture, character, and talent. That went a long way into determining how successful we were last year.”

The younger Kraynak will also have to replace five players, including Connor Hendrickson, the MSL-Ohio Player of the Year last spring. Hendrickson batted .349 and drove in 19 runs and had an .86 ERA as a pitcher. The team also lost Brandon Hale (.339) and Ethan Albert (.325, 2.5 ERA), who were both second team all-league selections, David Murawski (.366, 2.71 ERA), and Alex Wrobbel (.267).

“Last year we had five seniors who had been around the program for their entire careers and worked hard to develop our culture,” Kraynak said.

The coach will lean heavily on the two returning seniors Hobie Raikes and Sam Blank. Blank, an honorable mention all-league selection, hit .312 and had an ERA of 1.79. Raikes, who was first team all-league, led the Warriors with a .449 batting average and had eight doubles and two of the team’s five home runs. Blank will see time in the infield and as a pitcher and Raikes will play at catcher, pitcher, and outfielder.

The Warriors have a solid group of juniors returning including Hunter Doran (.338), a second team all-league selection last year. Doran will pitch and play in the outfield.

Kraynak is looking for returnees James Colley (OF/P), Michael Watson (INF), Jackson Ressler (OF), and Daniel Guiris (OF) to contribute to the team. Junior Cyrus Nip (INF/P) returns to Worthington Christian after playing for Olentangy Berlin as a sophomore.

“We have a strong junior class,” coach Kraynak said. “We have a lot of guys who played during their freshman and sophomore years, so having that taste has been good for them. They have brought that into our weightlifting program, and they have gotten significantly stronger.”

Sophomores Chase Crawford (INF/OF/P), Jacob Linard (OF/P), Jackson Price (INF/P), Noah Rice (OF/C), Michael Shindle (INF), and Austin Wrobbel (INF/P) and freshmen Leo Bernardo (P) Caden Demmer (P) Asher Doran (INF/P) and Beckett O’Neil (C) are expected to contribute.

The young lineup will be challenged by a deep CBL. The Warriors lost Wellington in the move to the CBL but picked up Bishop Ready. Last year, Columbus Academy won a district title, and Grandview and Worthington Christian lost in a district semifinal in the Division III tournament. Buckeye Valley reached the district semifinal in Division II.

The Warriors were eliminated in a district semifinal the last three years, losing to Fredericktown 4-3 in 2022 and Amanda Clearcreek 1-0 in 2021. The team was the district runner-up in 2007, 2008 and 2013.

“Last year was a hard-fought game,” Kraynak said. “I don’t think you ever get over a loss like that. It’s something that’s in the back of your mind when you are working out in the off-season.

“Our conference prepares us well for the playoffs. We don’t get a night off in our league, so hopefully, we will really be prepared when the tournament comes around.”


Softball coach Dani Murnane had no question what her greatest concern was going into the 2023 season. The Warriors didn’t have any experienced pitchers going into last season.

What surprised Murnane was the players’ willingness to overcome that deficit. Hopefully the improvement the team made last year will carry over this season.

“The thing that stands out about last season was how we evolved as a team,” she said. “We had several girls step up and take pitching lessons to try and fill a spot that is so crucial to the team’s success.

“I’m sure initially there was a lot of hesitation because it’s a challenging position, but we have a team full of incredible leaders. A few rose to the occasion and wanted to do whatever it took to help us be successful.”

Senior Whitney McGlothlin returns this year as one of those players who took over as a pitcher. McGlothlin compiled a 6-3 record and helped drive the Warriors to a third-place finish in the Mid-State League-Ohio with a 5-5 record to finish behind Buckeye Valley (9-0) and Bexley (8-2). Worthington Christian lost an offensive battle to rival Grandview 18-17 in the first round of the Division III Central District tournament to finish 6-11 overall.

“Losing in the tournament’s first round absolutely drives us this year,” Murnane said. “We could win that game, and we were leading the entire time until the last inning.

“The seniors have a little fire in their bellies to hopefully have a longer run in the tournament.”

Seniors McGlothlin, Deyona Johnston, and Joely Bussey will lead the team. On the days when McGlothlin is pitching, Johnston will be playing at first base. When McGlothlin is not on the mound, Johnston will be in right field, and McGlothlin will be playing at first. Bussey will be in left field most of the time.

The Warriors also return their leading hitter in junior Hadassah “Haddie” Leverette, who batted .672 with four doubles and six triples in league play.

Murnane says she is going to lean on juniors Haley Huffman, Annah Niehoff, and Katelyn Szczygiel-Hicks, sophomores Rebecca Cable, Destiny Cahill, Sheree Sikhakhane, and Lila Von Recum, and freshmen Charlotte Ball, Gracie Burchwell, Annelise Gifford, Kayla McAllister, and Hope Spires to round out the team.

Murnane believes the strength of this year’s team will be the leadership from its three seniors and junior Leverette.

“They bring a level of experience,” Murnane said. “The three seniors desire to end their high school career with a bang. They’re highly motivated; hopefully, that will fuel the entire team.

“One of the keys for us is executing on defense and scoring many runs early. Last season, we would score but kind of got complacent. So, our goals this year are to score early and keep applying the pressure so it takes a little bit off the strain for our pitching.”

Boys Tennis

As he prepares for his first season of coaching the boys’ tennis team, Derek Stone is going to be emphasizing the mental aspect of the game as well as the physical portion.

“The mental portion of the game is huge,” said Stone, who coached the middle school boys team last year and will split duties between the two teams this year. “It’s over 50 percent of the game, if not more. In tennis, it’s typically just you out there on the court on your own.

“There are always these big opportunities for momentum swings. You can easily let your emotions get the best of you. You can be up 5-1, and you end up losing 7-6. The mental piece is huge, so that will be a big focus as we’re training.”

The Warriors, who finished 5-7 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-State League-Ohio Division last year, face a major rebuilding project this season. Worthington Christian lost Bradley Pomajevich, who graduated last spring, and Sean Ball, who decided not to return to the team this spring. The two reached the district tournament before losing to Bexley’s Blake Simons and Austin Flamm 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.

Stone, who played high school tennis for Capital High School in Charleston, W.Va., has two children active in the tennis program. His daughter Brooke is a junior who played for the varsity last fall, and his son Luke is an eighth grader who will be playing for the middle school team.

Stone will be counting on senior Jonathan Bauman and sophomore Matthew Paul, who played for the varsity last year, as well as sophomore Dylan Decker, who split time between the varsity and junior varsity last year, and senior Matthew Sanders, who played primarily for the junior varsity last season.

Stone was also heartened by the 22 students who attended the first team meeting and expects to have 28 students competing for spots on the varsity and junior varsity teams.

“It’s going to be interesting,” he said. “We have those three returning from the varsity and others competing for spots. We’ve got good potential, but it’s hard to tell what we have until we get out on the courts.”

The Warriors moved away from the MSL-Ohio Division to the Central Buckeye League this year, but many talented teams followed them. The CBL includes MSL-Ohio holdovers Columbus Academy, Bexley, Buckeye Valley, Grandview, and Whitehall and added Bishop Ready into the mix. Academy won the MSL-Ohio last year with a 5-0 record, losing only one court in league play last year, while Bexley (4-1) placed second and Worthington Christian (3-2) was third. The Vikings’ Rowen Lo and Nason Lo defeated the Lions’ Sam Lessard and Stefan Schiff 6-3, 6-1 for third place in the Division II state doubles tournament May 25-26 at Ohio State’s Stickney Center.

“We want to improve as players on and off the court,” Stone said. “You build a team by creating good chemistry, encouraging one another, and having fun.

“We’re going to give it our best efforts and let the Lord figure out the results.”

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