Big Walnut High School girls tennis coach Ryan Balaz believes what his team accomplished this season was the result of the dedication his players showed on the court.
The Golden Eagles easily met their goal of 10 wins, as they finished 13-7, marking their most victories since 2006 when they went 13-4. The program record for wins in a season was set in 2000, when Big Walnut finished 17-3.
"The girls reached their potential," said Balaz, who completed his second season leading the program. "They gave everything they could, each and every one of them. It was really neat to see as the year progressed. I felt like they were playing their best tennis at the end of the year, which is the way you like to have it."
The Golden Eagles finished fourth in the OCC-Capital Division. They went 4-3 in league duals and finished with 44 points to finish behind New Albany (82, 7-0), Olentangy (62, 6-1) and Olentangy Orange (55, 5-2) and ahead of Delaware Hayes (36, 3-4), Watkins Memorial (18, 2-5), Mount Vernon (14, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (2, 0-7).
"We took care of the matches we were favored to win," Balaz said.
Big Walnut competed in the Division I sectional tournament Oct. 4 and 6 at Pickerington Central. Senior Grace Coffman and junior Bailey Sewalk both went 2-1 in singles and lost in a district-qualifying match. Coffman lost to Dublin Coffman's Amber Lee 6-0, 6-2 and Sewalk fell to Coffman's Ashley Tan 6-0, 6-0.
Also at sectional, senior Melissa Grooms went 1-1 in singles, the doubles team of senior Emily Balaz and junior Blake Stenger went 1-1 and the doubles team of seniors Brittany Kizer and Cecily Nelson went 0-1.
Big Walnut loses five seniors, each of whom competed at sectional.
"It's a huge loss," Balaz said. "They brought leadership and experience. They're leaving big shoes to fill on the tennis court and off the tennis court. They were a huge part of our success."
Among those expected to return are Sewalk, Stenger and juniors Cali Ford and Bella Goodrich.
"They'll all need to be contributors for us to continue moving forward the way we've been," Balaz said. "If we keep playing the way we've been playing, then we'll have a big year next year."
Better OCC finish goal for golf team
Boy golf coach Chuck Workman was pleased with his team's overall season, but next year he would like to see the Golden Eagles make a better showing in the OCC-Capital tournament.
Big Walnut finished 128-90 overall this season, improving its team scoring average by about 10 strokes.
"We were in the 320s this year and we were in the 330s last year," Workman said. "We'd like to get that into the teens next year."
Big Walnut went 13-15 in the four-round OCC-Capital tournament to finish fifth, behind New Albany (28-0), Mount Vernon (20-8), Olentangy (20-8) and Orange (18-10) and ahead of Watkins Memorial (9-19), Delaware (4-24) and Franklin Heights (0-28).
The Golden Eagles averaged a score of 340.3 over the four rounds of the league tournament.
"I was disappointed in the OCC because we did so much better in some of the other tournaments we were in," Workman said.
Big Walnut finished first (318) in the nine-team Fidelity Field Invitational Aug. 16 at Oakhaven and placed third (305) in the six-team Delaware County Cup on Oct. 4 at Glenross behind Orange (295) and Olentangy Liberty (302).
"We were excited about that," Workman said of his team's finish in the Fidelity Field Invitational. "It should be the impetus for next season."
The Golden Eagles finished eighth (329) in the Division I sectional tournament Oct. 2 at Darby Creek, behind district-qualifiers Dublin Coffman (303), Liberty (312), Westerville North (320) and Hilliard Davidson (323).
Senior T.J. Cowans shot a 78, securing the fourth and final individual district-qualifying spot. He carded an 85 at district Oct. 9 at Apple Valley, as Pickerington North's Scot Sapp secured the third and final state-qualifying spot with a 75.
Big Walnut loses two seniors in Cowans, who earned third-team all-league honors and had the team's second-best overall scoring average (80.4), and Evan Cannell.
"We'll miss their leadership and their ability to play golf and what they added to our wins," Workman said. "I wish I could have them back, but kids graduate and you have to move on."
Expected back are sophomores Kyle Bash, Ryan Cunningham, Kyle Gose and Chad Little. Gose led the team with an 80.2 overall scoring average and made third-team all-league, and Cunningham was honorable mention all-league.
"They all shot in the 70s at least once this year," Workman said of his potential returnees. "I told them they can't score in the 70s with luck; it takes skill. There's no reason they won't get better next year."
Boys soccer team falls in district final
The boys soccer team lost to second-seeded Watterson 2-1 in a Division II district final Oct. 27 at Westerville Central to finish 12-7-1.
The seventh-seeded Golden Eagles scored first but could not maintain their lead.
Senior forward Austin Foor scored four minutes into the game, but Watterson's Tommy Geraghty tied the game 10 minutes later, scoring off a header set up by Dominic Smith's bicycle kick from the corner. Nearly 10 minutes later, Paul Mokrzan scored the winning goal.
The contest marked the second consecutive district final appearance for the Golden Eagles, who lost to DeSales 2-1 in double overtime a year ago. Their last district championship came in 2008.
Bogantz runs in regional meet
Bethany Bogantz of the girls cross country team competed in the Division I regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
The senior finished 59th of 118 runners in 20 minutes, 50.47 seconds, behind champion Leah Wallace (18:44.9) of Reynoldsburg. The top 16 individuals at regional advanced to the state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway, with Westerville North's Haley Sandvik securing the final qualifying spot (19:24.64).
This season represented the second regional appearance for Bogantz, who finished 28th (20:58.6) in 2010, behind champion Jamie Perzanowski (18:57.5) of St. Clairsville. That season, Big Walnut qualified for regional as a team and placed fifth with 161 points behind champion Granville (96), as St. Clairsville (141) secured the fourth and final state-qualifying berth.
Bogantz was the only regional qualifier for the girls team. The boys team did not have any regional qualifiers.
Football team beats Falcons in finale
The football team concluded the season with a 31-13 win over host Franklin Heights on Oct. 26.
Quarterback Carson Chatterton threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Adam Shaheen and scored on a 49-yard run. Also for the Golden Eagles, fullback Alex Clark scored on a 34-yard run, Seth Myers scored on an 85-yard punt return and Tyler Satterfield kicked a 25-yard field goal.
Big Walnut finished 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Capital to tie Orange for third, behind New Albany (7-0) and Olentangy (6-1) and ahead of Mount Vernon (3-4), Delaware (2-5), Watkins Memorial (2-5) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
Franklin Heights finished 2-8 overall.
The Golden Eagles finished 16th in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings, marking the first time since 2009 that they have missed the playoffs and only the second time in the last seven seasons that they have failed to qualify for the postseason.
The top eight teams in each region made the playoffs.