Columbus School for Girls track and field coach Lori Baldwin initially was worried when only 26 athletes came out for her team this season.
But by the time the Unicorns wrapped up their first week of practice, the third-year coach’s concerns about a potential lack of depth had been quelled.
CSG is scheduled to open its season April 10 with a home dual meet against Africentric, but Baldwin is hoping to find a meet in which her team can compete on March 31 or the first week of April.
“We’ve had 50 girls on our team before, so we’re down on numbers, but we’ve still got the talent to be a good team,” said Baldwin, who served as an assistant coach at CSG for 10 seasons before being named head coach. “All of our girls are working hard and I think we’re going to be small, but mighty.”
The Unicorns expect to have a strong distance/middle distance corps, which features seniors Sophie Chatas and Rosie Connor, junior Abigail Perrini and sophomore Emma Harris.
Last season, Chatas finished 11th in the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 22.15 seconds) in the Division II state meet at Ohio State.
Seniors JaMilla Holland and Taylor McIntyre and sophomores Ashley Harrington and Mo Ruff are the Unicorns’ top returning sprinters, while freshman Rebecca O’Donovan is expected to be their top shot put and discus thrower.
Harrington is expected to be the Unicorns’ leader in the long jump and one of their leading hurdlers, along with sophomore Cecilia Pesavento.
“We’ve got some good seniors leading the way and we have a lot of underclassmen who work hard and will be good in the future,” Baldwin said. “We just had our first four days of practice and now we’re losing them for 17 days for spring break, so we gave the girls their workouts and we’re hoping they can get them in while they’re on vacation.”
The Unicorns finished second (114 points) in the CCL meet last season, behind Hartley (141) and ahead of Ready (94), DeSales (76) and Watterson (65), as Chatas won the 1,600 (5:19.98).
“The CCL is always strong,” Baldwin said. “Hartley is coming off winning the state championship, and DeSales and Watterson are Division I schools,” Baldwin said. “We’re going to focus more on the events that we’re strong in to try to win them, but I think we’ll be competitive as a team, too.”
Chatas won a district title in the 1,600 (5:14.2) at Hamilton Township, as CSG placed third (56.5) behind Hartley (111) and Granville (93.5). She also helped the 3,200 relay (9:57.35) and 1,600 relay (4:04.98) place second at district.
In the regional meet at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, Chatas placed third in the 1,600 (5:13.72) to advance to state and teamed with Harris and 2011 graduates Enri Small and Laura Staravecka to place sixth in the 3,200 relay (9:54.04) and with Small, Harris and Connor to place sixth in the 1,600 relay (4:04.11).
CSG finished 16th (15) at regional behind champion Hartley (82).
“We’re one of the smallest Division II teams in the state, so we have to step up our game and work harder to be successful,” Baldwin said.
Lacrosse team features seven returning starters
The lacrosse team opens March 29 by playing host to Hartley.
CSG finished 14-4 last season after losing to eventual state champion Columbus Academy 14-13 in a Division II South/Region final.
The Unicorns return seven starters in seniors Miranda Butler-Pettit (attacker/midfielder), Teal Harrison (goalkeeper), Patricia Ryan (attacker) and Laynie Thomas (defender/midfielder), juniors Morgan Amigo (midfielder) and Maddie McGregor (defender/midfielder) and sophomore Sophie Sugar (midfielder).
Harrison is an American University recruit and Ryan is an Ohio Wesleyan recruit.
Also on the team are juniors Jenna Ellis (defender/midfielder), Jenny Henderson (attacker) and Claudia Hummel (attacker) and sophomores Erin Balasky (midfielder), Kellie Carlson (attacker), Leah Glimcher (defender) and Molly Thomas (defender).
“Patricia Ryan leads our attack, we’re very fast in the midfield and Teal Harrison is a huge asset in goal,” third-year coach Lindsay Pieper said. “We’re a little bit smaller this year, so we need everyone to contribute.”
Last year, the Unicorns opened the postseason with an 18-11 win over Cincinnati Seven Hills and beat Hartley 19-9 in the second round before losing to Academy in a South-Region final for the second consecutive season.
“We always aim to move one step forward each season and so our goal is to reach the state tournament,” Pieper said. “We have a lot of people back who did well last year, so we feel confident right now.”