With the War Eagle football team taking a bye week on the Sept. 28, athletic focus at Marist shifted to the volleyball, softball, and cross country teams this week as they prepare for their playoffs. All are ranked high in their respective regions yet have had some challenges to overcome.
The Lady Eagles’ volleyball team, led by Coach Kendall Reid-Webster and senior co-captains Clara Horner and Julia Simon, is 15-8 overall but took home a disappointing loss Thursday in its annual Claws for a Cause tournament against St. Pius. However, rival schools have underestimated the young team that even includes three freshmen, but the Lady Eagles have been out to prove them wrong.
“We have a winning record right now, but we had a shaky start,” Simon said. “There wasn’t a lot of team chemistry on the court. Off the court, it’s good because we’re all really good friends, but something just wasn’t really clicking at the beginning of the season. After we played our match against Columbus, it was a really big turning point. Our practices were better – they were a lot tougher –, and Coach Reid-Webster was harder on us, but it was definitely a turning point in the season.”
The Claws for a Cause tournament on Thursday, though, proved a challenge for the girls as St. Pius won all three games in the best of five tournament. All were close, however, within six, five, and three points in the end.
“There were a few little mistakes, and that’s what killed us in those games. We were really proud of how we played. Pius was a very tough opponent, and we hung with them,” Simon said. “In future years, they’re going to remember that Marist, yes, we’re young, but we’ve got some fire.”
The team now prepares for Lovett this Thursday and some other rivals down the line, including Sandy Creek and Columbus, but Simon said, “If we play how we’ve been playing, then we definitely have a chance at winning state.”
The 16-9 Lady Eagles’ softball team under Coach Mike Trapani, senior co-captains Courtney Herman and Maddie LeVorse, and junior captain Taylor Bradley has likewise been carrying momentum throughout the season.
“Over the last few weeks we have played an improved brand of softball,” Trapani said. “We are starting to play more consistent defense and hit more throughout the entire line-up. This team has the potential to play well in the playoffs but will need everyone to be productive. [We] cannot rely on any one player to carry the load for the rest of the team.”
Finally, after a blowout at the Double Dip Tournament on Sept. 15, the Marist boys’ and girls’ cross country teams have been prepping for playoffs with both ranked #1 in AAAA. Midseason illnesses and injuries, though, have plagued the team as they continue to strive for excellence.
“Our summer was hugely important to our success, and I am confident that we wouldn't have pulled off those wins without the preparation,” Coach Eric Heintz said. “In cross country, champions are made in June and July and not November!”
This past weekend, junior Michael Thurston broke the school record at the Great American Cross Country Festival by running 15:25, breaking the previous record by 10 seconds; Thurston also won the Our Lady of Mercy Invitation and the Double Dip previously in the season.
Sophomore Morgan Ilse has been leading the pack for the girls’ team, running 18:30 at the Great American Cross Country Festival and winning the Double Dip as well.
Heintz said, “I think both our boys and girls have a really good chance at coming home with state championships and region championships this fall. It all depends on whether we can stay focused and healthy for the rest of season.”