Jerome doesn't expect letdown
Despite having four underclassmen among its top five players a year ago, the Dublin Jerome High School girls golf team rolled through the competition all the way to the second Division I state championship in program history.
The Celtics could be even better this season.
According to seventh-year coach C.D. Butcher, senior Jenna DiPaolo, junior Lexie Toth and sophomores Maite Erana and Sybil Robinson all improved during the offseason and aren't daunted by high expectations.
"Coming off last year, obviously our varsity girls are as confident as you can be," Butcher said. "They put in a great summer. As good as we were last year, our top four are dramatically better than last year. We have four No. 1 golfers, which is a great problem to have."
Who would round out the lineup was Jerome's only question as it opened Aug. 13 in the Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson and began OCC-Cardinal Division action Aug. 15 at The Links at Groveport.
Junior Sarah Hebble, sophomore Alex Brooks and freshmen Reagan DiIorio and Kennedy Jackson all competed throughout the preseason for varsity spots.
The Celtics lost one player from a year ago to graduation in Joon-Hee Shim, who now attends the University of Michigan but is not playing collegiately.
Shim, who missed advancing to state individually by one stroke in both 2008 and 2010, shot a 151 to tie West Chester Lakota West's Ali Green for fourth in last year's state tournament on Ohio State's Gray Course. Her performance helped Jerome card a 627 (320-307) and easily defeat a field that included Massillon Jackson (641) and Medina Highland (642).
Jerome was second in the state in 2004 and won its other title in 2005.
Robinson shot 158 at state to place 13th and both Erana and Toth followed at 159 to tie for 14th. DiPaolo carded 168.
Jerome went 24-0 in OCC-Cardinal play to win its seventh league title in eight seasons and its fourth in a row. Rounding out the standings were Olentangy Liberty (18-6), Scioto (16-8), New Albany (13-11), Pickerington Central (8-16), Olentangy Orange (4-20) and Olentangy (1-23).
Shim was league medalist for each of her first three prep seasons but was second (76.25) last year behind Toth (75.5). Robinson was third (80.0).
The Celtics began the postseason by shooting a 301 to win the Raymond Memorial sectional as Erana led with a 73. Then at district at Bent Tree, Jerome was first with a 312 as Shim shot 75 to finish second. She was followed by Robinson (77), Toth (78), Erana (82) and DiPaolo (87).
"We wanted to win state, but I don't know if we were talking about it that much," Butcher said. "We're the defending champs so there's a lot of pressure, but we're even more focused."
Coffman plans to be among state's best
Coffman also has its eye on a memorable season after coming up short of making it to the state tournament last fall.
The Shamrocks, who return five of their top six players, won league and sectional titles but settled for fourth at district as the top two advanced to state.
Coffman opened Aug. 13 in the Gahanna Invitational and played in the first round of the OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 15 at Oakhaven.
"We're young, but we're experienced," said Randy Patton, who coached the Westerville North boys team the last nine seasons before taking over at Coffman in January.
"They pass the look test. They can play. Our goals are extremely high. Jerome is a great team, but if we do the things we're capable of doing, we have a great chance to be very good."
Juniors Charley Benefield and Kylie Raines and sophomores Lexie Long, Nicole Smiley and Kamerine Taylor return. Sophomores Haerim Kwon and Nicole Tabit and freshman Haewon Kwon are others looking to break into the lineup.
Last season, Coffman went 24-0 to win its third consecutive OCC-Capital championship. Marysville (20-4), Worthington Kilbourne (15-9), Hilliard Bradley (13-11), Westerville Central and Westerville North (5-18-1) and Westerville South (0-24) rounded out the standings.
The Shamrocks opened the postseason with a 332 to win the Oakhaven sectional but were fourth (336) at district behind Jerome (312), Gahanna (330) and Pickerington North (331).
Taylor was medalist at sectional with a 74, followed by Long (81), Smiley (88), Raines (89) and Benefield (91). At district, Raines led with an 80, followed by Long (83), Benefield (86), Taylor (87) and 2012 graduate Sabre Adkins (90).
Patton took over for Cindy Young, who led the team to one state berth and league titles in four of the final five seasons of her eight-year tenure.
"Jerome is a big mountain to climb, but twice our girls beat them last year," Patton said. "Our strength is our depth."
Scioto looking for strong season
Scioto also has a new coach in Roger Murphy, who headed the Karrer Middle School team the last two years. Jason Snyder coached the Irish last year, as well as in 2002 and 2003.
Juniors Jessica Cyrus and Danielle Wright are returnees. Seniors Nicole Evans and Kelsie Judge and sophomore Tessa Berger should round out the top five.
Scioto opened Aug. 13 in the Central Ohio Early Birdie at Minerva Lake and began the OCC-Cardinal schedule Aug. 15 at The Links at Groveport.
Last season, the Irish were fourth (402) at the Groveport sectional as Pickerington North (354), Upper Arlington (375) and Canal Winchester (398) advanced to district.
Olivia Giacobbe and Bavani Rajah, who were 2012 graduates, led the way by shooting 95 and 101, respectively. Cyrus and Wright each carded 103.
Hannah Sobieski, who shot 106 at sectional as a freshman last season, is not back with the team.
"We've got five girls who are pretty equal," Murphy said. "From what I've seen, they've all got the skills to be competitive. We may not be able to beat Dublin Jerome or Dublin Coffman, but we ought to be competitive against everybody else."