It's not difficult for Dublin Jerome High School girls golf coach C.D. Butcher to find superlatives to describe the players who have helped the program win the past two Division I state championships.
He did make a statement regarding his team that might come as a surprise to some, however, considering the 627 the Celtics shot in the 2011 state tournament is the second-best score all-time at the event and last year's 629 is third best.
"This is the most talent we've ever had in the history of the program," Butcher said. "It's the truth. Ohio is as deep as it's been, so it'll be tough to repeat what we've done, but I wouldn't bet against these girls. When something's on the line, these girls have another gear."
Back after competing at state the last two seasons are senior Lexie Toth and juniors Maite Erana and Sybil Robinson.
Expected to provide a solid fourth score despite being a freshman is Marianna Erana, who is Maite's sister.
Sophomores Kennedy Jackson and Reagan DiIorio are the team's next two top players.
On Aug. 7 in the first round of the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament at The Links at Groveport, the Celtics shot 305 to place first. Maite Erana shot 74, Robinson and Toth both carded 76 and Marianna Erana shot 79.
Jerome opened by placing second (321) behind Coffman (309) in the Lady Rocks Invitational on Aug. 6 at Little Turtle. The Celtics shot 283 to edge Coffman (284) for the championship of the 17-team Worthington Kilbourne Invitational on Aug. 8 at Glenross.
On Aug. 12 in the 17-team Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson, the Celtics finished first (290) ahead of Coffman (305).
The Celtics have won eight league titles in nine seasons, including the last five. Toth is the defending league medalist, having averaged 73.7 a year ago, and Robinson (74.0), Maite Erana (74.3) and 2013 graduate Jenna DiPaolo (76.25) rounded out the top four last season.
Jerome shot 323 to win last year's Oakhaven sectional as Toth was medalist with a 77. The Celtics then settled for second in the district tournament at Cooks Creek after they tied Coffman with a 314 but lost on fifth-player score.
At state, Toth shot 149 to place fourth and Maite Erana carded 152 to tie for ninth.
"We're really excited about this year," Butcher said. "They all do it right."
Coffman expecting another big season
Jerome's toughest competition at the district and state levels could again come from Coffman.
The Shamrocks return their top five players and easily won the first round of the OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 7 at Oakhaven, shooting a 296 as Worthington Kilbourne was second (331).
"The strength of our team is that we're deep," coach Randy Patton said. "We're a lot more experienced than we were last year. We're older, we've been through this before and we're focused. Until we beat (Jerome) when it counts, they're still the champs."
Seniors Charley Benefield and Kylie Raines and juniors Lexie Long, Nicole Smiley and Kamerine Taylor all are back after competing at state. Taylor was medalist of the first round of the league tournament with a 70.
Others in the program include senior Haerim Kwon, sophomores Jorie Hodapp and Haewon Kwon and freshman Liz Kim.
Coffman was fourth (646) at state last season behind Jerome, Medina Highland (630) and Massillon Jackson (637). Taylor shot 155 to tie for 16th.
The Shamrocks shot 309 to win the nine-team Mentel Memorial sectional as Long was medalist (73) and then had all five players shoot 74 to 84 at district to win the title.
Raines is the reigning OCC-Capital medalist after averaging 75.7 a year ago.
Coffman has won four consecutive league titles.
"We're confident and we're mature," Patton said. "The kids have set goals. Last year we lived and learned and we're excited to prove what we can do this year."
Scioto looking to improve
Another person who knows something about state championships is new Scioto coach Amber Jackson.
Jackson, who got married this summer and whose maiden name is Churchill, played for Coffman in 2000 when the Shamrocks shot a then-record 630 to win the state title. She went on to play for Marshall University, worked as a golf pro at Muirfield Village and teaches at Scioto. Jackson replaced Roger Murphy, who is now the Irish's boys coach.
Her first team has three players back from last season in seniors Jessica Cyrus and Danielle Wright and junior Tessa Berger. Junior Hannah Sobieski, who played as a freshman, and freshman Hannah Burigana also are expected to be key players.
"We have three (returning players) that can really play," Jackson said. "I feel like they can really shoot some good scores. They've got great swings and I'm excited to work with them."
Scioto finished fourth (392) in the first round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 7.
The next day, the Irish were 11th (365) in the Kilbourne Invitational.
A year ago, Scioto was sixth (379) in the Mentel Memorial sectional as 2013 graduate Nicole Evans shot 89 but lost in a playoff to Westerville Central's Ana Borish for the final district-qualifying berth. Cyrus finished with a 90 at sectional.