Bailey Sewalk and Blake Stenger were looking to become the Big Walnut High School girls tennis team's first district qualifiers in five years.
The seniors had a first-round bye in doubles in the Division I sectional tournament Oct. 3 at Upper Arlington and defeated Newark's Emily Mettile and Katianna Evans 6-0, 6-1 in the second round before facing Watterson's Mollie Godbout and Sophia Wible in a district-qualifying match.
The district-qualifying match was moved to Oct. 4 because of rain and the semifinal, consolation and championship matches were held Oct. 5. The top four finishers in singles and doubles at each sectional advanced to district Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Davidson.
"They played really well," coach Ryan Balaz said of Sewalk and Stenger. "They came out aggressive and were not at all tentative."
The Golden Eagles' last district qualifiers were Maddie Hamann and Darcy Predieri, who lost in the first round of the 2008 Division II district tournament in doubles. Big Walnut moved up to Division I in 2009.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at district will advance to state Oct. 18 at Ohio State and Oct. 19 at Davidson.
Also competing at sectional were seniors Bella Goodrich and Caroline Ford and junior Erika Kessler in singles and the doubles team of seniors Alex Berger and Janie Serna. Each of the singles players lost in the first round and Berger and Serna had a first-round bye before falling in the second round.
"I was really pleased with how we played," Balaz said. "We came up just a bit short, but we played some really good teams."
Big Walnut defeated Rey-noldsburg 3-2 on Oct. 1 to finish 12-8 overall and went 4-3 in the OCC-Capital to place fourth.
The Golden Eagles competed in the fourth-place OCC tournament Sept. 28 at Hilliard Darby, scoring six points to finish fourth behind Davidson (18) of the OCC-Central, Pickerington North (15) of the OCC-Ohio and Darby (11) of the OCC-Cardinal.
"We had some really competitive matches with Darby," Balaz said. "Davidson has a really sharp team."
The OCC tournament replaced the OCC-Capital tournament this season.
"I like the new format and playing the new teams," Balaz said. "In (the OCC-) Capital (tournament), you kind of knew what was going to happen based on what happened in the (regular) season. (The new format) is a step in the right direction."
Boys golfers finish seventh at sectional
The boys golf team finished seventh (329) in the 13-team Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Darby Creek.
The top three teams -- fourth-seeded New Albany (299), third-seeded Dublin Coffman (304) and ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty (307) -- and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district, which will be held Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Apple Valley.
"It went pretty well," coach Chuck Workman said of his team's sectional performance. "I'm not upset with 329."
Junior Kyle Gose led the Golden Eagles with a 79, finishing three strokes behind the final individual district qualifier, Marysville's Morgan Tarrant (76).
"His putts weren't dropping for him," Workman said of Gose. "He said there were a couple putts from two feet or so that he missed for a birdie or for par, and that's not like him."
Also competing for the Golden Eagles were junior Chad Little (81), junior Kyle Bash (82), freshman Henry Von Hollen (87) and freshman Nick Dimitroff (90).
"It's their first time (at sectional)," Workman said of the freshmen. "I can't be disappointed in that."
Big Walnut closed the season by placing fourth (330) in the Delaware County Cup on Oct. 3 at Royal American, behind Liberty (309), Olentangy (311) and Olentangy Orange (323) and ahead of Delaware (338) and Buckeye Valley (353).
Gose led the Golden Eagles with a 76, tying Olentangy's Matthew Homza and Liberty's Doug Simpson for medalist honors.
Struggles continue for football team
The football team will travel to Mount Vernon on Friday, Oct. 11, for an OCC-Capital contest.
Big Walnut was 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 4. Mount Vernon was 3-2 and 1-1 before facing Olentangy Orange on Oct. 4.
The Golden Eagles lost to Delaware 21-0 in a league game Sept. 27, marking just the second time in 17 games that they have lost to the Pacers since the two became OCC rivals in 1997. Delaware's other win during that stretch came in 2009 (17-10).
Big Walnut outgained Delaware in total yardage, 224-222, but had four turnovers and the Pacers had none.
Jordan Wall and Michael Sensi both saw action at quarterback. Wall, a junior, completed eight of 15 passes for 78 yards and two interceptions and Sensi, a sophomore, was 7-for-9 passing for 67 yards and an interception.
Running back Christian Johnson led the Golden Eagles' ground game, rushing for 45 yards on 14 carries, and wide receiver Conner Fry had a team-high six receptions for 43 yards.
Linebacker Alec Eisnnicher led Big Walnut's defense with 11 tackles, including nine solo. Defensive lineman Trey Huffer had 10 tackles, including eight solo.