After 10 memorable seasons as the head boys' and girls' cross country coach at Delone Catholic High School, Scotty Watt announced the 2012 season was going to be his last year coaching.

The Squire runners were determined to make sure they sent him off in grand fashion.

"All season, we had a goal that we wanted to make this year special for Coach," freshman runner Kate Mowrey said.

The Squirettes did exactly that, sending him off as the All-Area Girls' Cross County Coach of the Year. They won the YAIAA Division III title and the District 3 Class A team title and earned a trip to the PIAA Championships.

The trip was the girls' first team advance during Watt's tenure.

Watt knew he had some talent returning, especially senior runner Sarah Bischoff, but he also knew he was going to have to replace two extraordinary runners that he lost to graduation in Courtney Weaver and Amanda Gebhart. It would not be an easy task.

"It was a very surprising season," Watt said. "We weren't sure what was going to happen at the beginning of the season. We knew we lost two key parts from the year before and we actually thought was a going to be a rebuilding year."

Fortunately for Watt, he received an influx of young talent to revitalize the team and bring, as he called it, "a breath of fresh air" as well.

Part of the breath of fresh air was the arrival of Mowrey.

"We had heard about Kate," Watt said. "I had never seen her run, though until she came to our summer camp and she certainly showed she had an awful lot of potential in the summer runs. It started making us really believe we could put together a pretty good team"

Mowrey was joined by freshmen Emily Ernst and Alyssa Alberghini.

The Squirettes opened the season showing that they had the mettle to compete with the best teams in the area. In the Diocesan Invitational, the Squirettes put together a strong second-place finish.

That start catapulted their season.

"The girls came out during that meet and went up against some really good schools," Watt said. "It was our first meet of the season. That gave us an indication. A week later, we ran in Maryland and did great. The girls started to see that they could run together. It really helped having that 1-2 punch. In many races, Kate and Sarah came in 1-2 and, through the year, Andrea (Resciniti) got stronger and was almost a 1-2-3."

Part of the success Watt has accomplished throughout his career comes from the bonding that happens during preseason camp. That is the time when Watt preaches the Squirettes are "one team" and that, to be successful, they had to help each other and work together.

"The camp is for the younger runners to get to know and be comfortable around the junior and senior runners of the team," Watt said. "It isn't to get them in shape. It is to introduce them to the other team members and to bond."

Watt is quick to point the success by the girls.

"They practice, and they practice hard," Watt said. "They work out they know they are going to have three, four hard days and one or two easy ones."

The Squires dominated the District 3 race, in which they finished first, fourth and eighth.

"When you have three girls finish in the top 10, you are going to have some success," Watt said. "We have never had such a good nucleus or such a deep team."

Aside from the district title, the highlight of Watt's season was the YAIAA meet at Susquehannock in which the Squires clinched the division title despite miserable conditions.

"When the girls beat York Catholic for the first time," Watt's said, "that was a great moment. We had lost to York Catholic for the past three to five years. The girls came in second a lot, but couldn't capture the division title. That day in the rain, we won. To see the girls' reactions was awesome. It was just pure joy."

Just one of the many memories Watt will carry with him as he sets his sights on new endeavors.
 
mrubin@eveningsun.com; 717-637-3736, extension 143. Twitter: @michaelrubin6.