Big Walnut High School boys golf coach Chuck Workman entered the season cautiously optimistic.
"I've got everybody back from last year," said Workman, who is in his fifth season leading the program. "With our experience, we should be able to compete fairly well in the (OCC-Capital Division)."
The Golden Eagles opened Aug. 7, shooting a 350 to finish sixth in the opening round of the four-round league tournament at Apple Valley, behind New Albany (314), Olentangy Orange (318), Mount Vernon (321), Olentangy (323) and Worthington Kilbourne (331) and ahead of Delaware Hayes (360).
"It was nothing to write home about," Workman said.
Behind a 78 by senior Kyle Gose, Big Walnut shot a 326 to finish first in the six-team Fidelity Federal Invitational on Aug. 8 at Oakhaven, marking the third time in the last four years that the Golden Eagles have won the event. Central Crossing (334) was runner-up.
Gose, who had a 78 average last year and earned second-team all-league honors, returns as the team's No. 1 player. Also back are seniors Kyle Bash, Ryan Cunningham and Chad Little, junior Jake Wilson and sophomores Nick Dimitroff and Henry Von Hollen.
Bash, Cunningham and Little are expected to rotate at positions two through four.
Bash was honorable mention all-league last year, as the Golden Eagles finished fourth (14-14) in the OCC-Capital behind champion New Albany (27-1).
"It's just going to take focus this year," Gose said. "We need to put in the time and practice on our own and have to want to get better."
Also on the team are sophomores Austin Schone and Parker Imertreijs.
"(All of the players) just need to work on their mental attitude, course management, the non-physical skills," Workman said. "They can all swing the club, but they get down on themselves. They just need to keep their emotions in check."
Behind a 79 by Little, Big Walnut shot a 327 to place fourth in the second round of the league tournament Aug. 12 at Darby Creek, behind New Albany (301), Orange (318) and Olentangy (323) and ahead of Mount Vernon (332), Kilbourne (344) and Delaware (368).
The third round is Aug. 27 at Turnberry.
"As the season progresses, we always seem to get a little better," Workman said. "On any given day, we can play well. We just need that consistency."
Last season, the Golden Eagles shot a 329 in the 13-team Division I sectional at Darby Creek to finish seventh, behind district-qualifiers New Albany (299), Dublin Coffman (304) and Olentangy Liberty (307).
"Two years ago, we qualified out of the sectional to the district," Workman said. "That was quite an accomplishment, considering we're one of the smaller Division I schools. We do about as well as we can with our size."
Girls tennis team begins new chapter
Girls tennis coach Ryan Balaz entered his fourth season with team growth in mind.
"We want the girls to have a better understanding of the game and see them improve from the beginning of the season until the end," Balaz said. "We're shooting for a top-four finish in the league. That would be a huge accomplishment."
Big Walnut, which finished 12-8 overall and placed fourth (22 points, 4-3) in the OCC-Capital behind champion New Albany (41, 7-0) last season, has freshman Macie Kercsmar playing first singles. New to the school district and a year-round player, she brings groundstroke consistency and touch around the net, Balaz said.
The Golden Eagles' only returning letterwinner, senior Erika Kessler, will play second singles after playing third singles last year and losing her opening match in the Division I sectional tournament at Upper Arlington.
A pair of freshmen, Brittany Mills or Abby Friend, or sophomore Anna Faust will fill third singles. Whichever two don't play singles will vie for time at doubles along with sophomores Maddie Pahl and Elisabeth Yuhas and freshman Lexie Kirkpatrick.
"We're just so young this year and there's so much energy," Balaz said. "It's just a different vibe. They have so much potential."
Big Walnut, which opened with a 4-1 loss at Gahanna on Aug. 12 in an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association tournament match and beat River Valley 3-2 on Aug. 14, will play host to Olentangy in its OCC-Capital opener Tuesday, Aug. 19.
"Our (league) is always tough, with New Albany, Orange, Olentangy and now Kilbourne," Balaz said.
Big Walnut lost six players from last year to graduation, including Bailey Sewalk and Blake Stenger, who played first and second singles, respectively. The two teamed to play doubles at sectional, falling in a district-qualifying match.
Cali Ford and Janie Serna (first doubles) and Allie Berger and Hannah Flynn (second doubles) also were among those who graduated.
The Golden Eagles competed in the fourth-place OCC tournament last season, scoring six points to finish behind Hilliard Davidson (18) of the OCC-Central, Pickerington North (15) of the OCC-Ohio and Hilliard Darby (11) of the OCC-Cardinal.
Big Walnut's last district qualifiers were Maddie Hamann and Darcy Predieri, who lost in the first round of the 2008 Division II district tournament in doubles. The Golden Eagles moved up to Division I in 2009.
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley
Aug. 8 -- Fidelity Federal Invitational at Oakhaven
Aug. 12 -- OCC-Capital at Darby Creek
Aug. 13 -- Worthington Invitational at Glenross
Aug. 18 -- Gahanna Invitational at Little Turtle
Aug. 19 -- New Albany Invitational at Winding Hollow
Aug. 23 -- Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic at Hiawatha
Aug. 27 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry
Aug. 30 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 4 -- Gahanna at Little Turtle
Sept. 8 -- DeSales at Jefferson
Sept. 10 -- OCC-Capital at Clover Valley
Sept. 15 -- Westerville North at Royal American Links
Sept. 18 -- Reynoldsburg at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 22 -- OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders
Sept. 24 -- Warrior Invitational at Winding Hollow
Oct. 2 -- Delaware County Cup at Delaware Golf Club
Aug. 12 -- at Gahanna
Aug. 14 -- vs. Caledonia River Valley
*Aug. 19 -- vs. Olentangy
Aug. 20 -- vs. Watkins Memorial
Aug. 21 -- vs. Buckeye Valley
Aug. 25 -- vs. Marion Pleasant
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Delaware Hayes
*Aug. 28 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 2 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 3 -- vs. Marion Harding
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Sept. 8 -- at Marion Pleasant
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Mount Vernon
*Sept. 11 -- vs. New Albany
Sept. 16 -- vs. Westerville Central
Sept. 17 -- vs. Newark
Sept. 18 -- at Reynoldsburg
Sept. 20 -- OCC tournament at TBA
Sept. 23 -- vs. Granville
Sept. 24 -- at Jonathan Alder
Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville North
Sept. 29 -- at Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 30 -- vs. Westerville South