Big Walnut High School girls soccer coach Drew Pitzer felt a bit slighted by his team's seed for the Division II district tournament.
The Golden Eagles, who are 8-6-2 overall after closing the regular season Oct. 10 with a 5-2 victory over Hartley, are seeded sixth of 19 teams and have a first-round bye. They will play host to 10th-seeded Centennial or 12th-seeded Licking Valley in the second round Saturday, Oct. 19.
Against the Hawks, senior forward Skylar Fleak scored four goals and senior midfielder Bailey Armstrong had the other.
"We're a little disappointed in where we're at," Pitzer said. "I think we're definitely a better team than the sixth seed. We have a Division I schedule, so a lot of the Division II teams don't get to see us. But it's the seed we were given, so we're going to do the best we can with it.
"I don't know much about (Centennial or Licking Valley), so it's hard to make a game plan. But I know they play (in the first round Wednesday, Oct. 16), so I'll be at that game checking them both out and get an idea of how they'll look and what we'll do to attack."
The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal, where it will face second-seeded Bloom Carroll or 18th-seeded Caledonia River Valley on Oct. 23 at the site of the higher seed.
Big Walnut lost to Watkins Memorial 3-2 on Oct. 9.
"I'm excited for (the postseason)," Pitzer said. "We haven't had the greatest regular season. We've been very up-and-down. But I really like the attitude of the team right now. Their heads are in the right spot and we've seen a lot of improvement."
Volleyball team set for Division I debut
For the first time in program history, the girls volleyball team will be competing in the postseason at the Division I level.
Big Walnut is seeded 13th of 46 teams in the district tournament and has a first-round bye. It will face 10th-seeded New Albany or 26th-seeded Westerville South in the second round Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the site of the higher seed.
The Golden Eagles won 15 district championships over the past 22 years in Division II. Their last district title came in 2010, when they finished as state runners-up.
"That's about right where I expected us to end up," coach Ron Lehman said, referring to his team's seed. "For being 13th, I think we got a pretty good draw.
"I don't know too much about (South). Obviously, we know New Albany. We've played them twice, so we know what they've got."
Big Walnut, which was 13-6 overall and 10-4 in the OCC-Capital Division after beating Franklin Heights 25-12, 25-13, 25-12 on Oct. 10, split its two league matches against New Albany, losing 25-11 25-18, 25-18 on Sept. 10 and winning 26-24, 25-21, 27-25 on Oct. 3.
"(If New Albany advances), hopefully we play like we did the second match," Lehman said. "We're a lot different now than the first time we played them."
The second-round winner will play fourth-seeded Grove City, 31st-seeded Westland or 36th-seeded Upper Arlington in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at Bloom-Carroll. The Golden Eagles have not played any of those teams this season.
Big Walnut, whose key players include senior setter Morgan Alley, senior middle hitter Kalynn Bowmar, junior outside hitter Claire Chatterton, junior defensive specialist Rachel O'Morrow and sophomore setter Abby Kitchen, closed the regular season by competing in Tourney for the Cure on Oct. 12 at Pickerington North.
"Everyone has their role and understands it," Lehman said of his players. "We're playing much better as a team. Obviously, it could all end in the first match, but I feel like we're playing the best volleyball we've played all year. It's a good time to be doing that. If we keep that going, then we have a shot at (winning a district title)."
Boys soccer team earns third seed
The boys soccer team is seeded third of 24 teams in the Division II district tournament and has a first-round bye.
Big Walnut, whose key players include senior defenders Bradyn Dronsfield and Dominic Zumpone, senior goalie Tyler Sholl, junior forward Adam Carifa and junior midfielder Tyler Ledbetter, will play host to 12th-seeded Johnstown or 18th-seeded Marion Franklin in the second round Thursday, Oct. 17.
The second-round winner will face seventh-seeded Bloom Carroll, 13th-seeded Beechcroft or 22nd-seeded Brookhaven in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at the site of the higher seed.
The Golden Eagles, who did not play any of those possible postseason opponents during the regular season, are 10-4-1 overall after beating Hartley 2-0 on Oct. 10 and finished 3-4 in the OCC-Capital.
Big Walnut concluded the regular season Oct. 12 against Hamilton Township.
Runners prepare for district meet
The cross country teams will compete in the Division I, district 3 meet on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Watkins Memorial.
District 3 is comprised of 18 boys teams, including two OCC-Capital members in Franklin Heights and Olentangy, and 17 girls teams, including league members New Albany and Olentangy.
The top six teams and top 24 individuals for both the boys and girls meets advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Big Walnut competed in the Johnstown Invitational on Oct. 5. The boys team scored 86 points to place second of seven teams, behind Westerville South (22).
Bobby Bogantz paced the Golden Eagles, finishing fourth in 18 minutes, 29.37 seconds. Also scoring were Jon Kahrmann (eighth, 18:50.62), Jacob Oppenheimer (22nd, 20:12.8), Michael McGowan (44th, 21:50.03) and Zach MacDonald (47th, 21:59.69).
The girls team finished second (63) in the six-team event, behind Westerville South (58).
Makenna Hemming led the Golden Eagles, placing sixth (23:16.19). Also scoring were Addison Shawver (13th, 24:02.67), Olivia Daggett (14th, 24:03.19), Mikaela Smith (15th, 24:12.33) and Rachael Brown (23rd, 25:08.52).
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet Oct. 12 at Pickerington Central.
Struggles continue for football team
The football team will play host to New Albany on Friday, Oct. 18, in an OCC-Capital contest.
Big Walnut was 0-6 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Capital before playing Mount Vernon on Oct. 11. New Albany, which was ranked second in the Division II state poll last week, was 6-0 and 3-0 before facing Olentangy on Oct. 11.
Big Walnut lost to Worthington Kilbourne 31-0 in a league game Oct. 4. It was the second consecutive game in which the Golden Eagles were shut out, following a 21-0 loss to Delaware Hayes on Sept. 27. They also were shut out by St. Charles, 34-0 on Sept. 13.
Big Walnut was outgained by Kilbourne 304-153 in total yardage.
Jordan Wall and Michael Sensi split time at quarterback. Wall completed one of two passes for 4 yards and rushed six times for 80 yards, and Sensi was 4-for-12 passing for 29 yards and two interceptions.
Running back Blake Marioth had 14 carries for 30 yards and wide receiver Chase LaVeer had a team-high three receptions for 28 yards. Defensive back Isaac Lucas had an interception.
Tennis team ends season at sectional
Bailey Sewalk and Blake Stenger of the girls tennis team fell one win short of becoming the program's first district qualifiers in five years.
The seniors had a first-round bye in doubles in the Division I sectional Oct. 3 and 5 at Upper Arlington and defeated Newark's Emily Mettile and Katianna Evans 6-0, 6-1 in the second round before losing to Watterson's Mollie Godbout and Sophia Wible 6-0, 6-1 in a district-qualifying match.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at each sectional advanced to district Oct. 11 and 12 at Hilliard Davidson.
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 to Division I in 2009.
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 losing in the second round.