Hopes high for boys squad
New Albany High School boys golf coach Andrew Norman was pleased with how his team fared last fall. Considering all five golfers from that district-qualifying squad have returned, Norman is expecting another strong season, his ninth leading the program.
"This year we have the opportunity to return everybody," he said. "We should have a very strong year this year as well."
Seniors Nick Karzmer, Grant Oehler and Jack Carter are among those being counted on to produce. Karzmer and Oehler earned first-team all-league honors last season and Carter was honorable mention all-league and second-team all-district.
Carter has verbally committed to Iowa State.
"He's one of the most talented golfers on the team," Norman said. "He leads the other players in the program by setting an example with his calm composure and the way he does things on the course."
Junior Jackson Moss was OCC-Capital Division Player of the Year and an all-district honorable mention. He shot a 77 and was medalist in last year's league tournament.
Junior Avery Schneider rounds out the top five.
"I feel like this is one of the strongest years New Albany has seen in a long time," Carter said. "We have the most potential to do as well as we ever have."
In last year's Division I sectional tournament at The Players Club at Foxfire, the Eagles shot a 316 to finish second behind Dublin Jerome (300) and ahead of fellow district-qualifiers Westerville Central (329) and Pickerington North (331). Carter and Karzmer each shot a 78, Oehler and Schneider each scored 80 and Moss shot an 84.
New Albany's season ended in the district tournament at Apple Valley. Shooting a 309 -- 10 strokes short of a state tournament bid -- the Eagles finished fifth behind state-qualifiers Jerome (296), Upper Arlington (297) and Dublin Coffman (299). Carter, Oehler and Schneider shot 77, Moss had a 78 and Karzmer followed with an 81.
The players plan to keep that district performance in mind in hopes of advancing further in the postseason.
"We'd like to get to the state tournament," Carter said.
The Eagles went 27-1 in OCC-Capital play last season to earn their second consecutive league championship. They finished ahead of Mount Vernon (24-4), Watkins Memorial (17-11), Olentangy Orange (16-12), Big Walnut (15-13), Hilliard Bradley (9-19), Delaware (4-24) and Franklin Heights (0-28).
As part of the OCC realignment this summer, Olentangy joined the OCC-Capital while Bradley took the Braves' place in the OCC-Cardinal.
"We'll be very competitive," Norman said. "We'd like to win the conference again this year, but some of the teams are greatly improved."
The Eagles opened Aug. 13 in the Mount Vernon Country Club Classic and competed in the first of four OCC-Capital tournaments Aug. 15 at Apple Valley.
"Everybody's been working hard, playing in a lot of tournaments and getting their game set for this year," Norman said. "I feel really strong about our top five and I know we'll be competitive."
Girls team short on experience
Although the girls team lost a trio of starters to graduation and four total, eighth-year coach Darryl Sycher thinks this season's squad resembles the previous one.
"We were relatively young, in terms of experience," he said. "That will be very similar again this year."
One difference between the two seasons is there are no seniors on this year's squad.
Sophomore Megan Dressel has the most varsity playing time.
"She played all last year as a freshman," Sycher said. "She has really worked on her game and she's focused physically."
Juniors Amanda Giroux, Madison Fixari and Allie Reed, sophomore Ellie Billisits and freshman Emma Jones round out the top six.
Sycher views this as a transitional season during which the players can develop their games.
"It will be challenging and there could be some uncertainty," he said. "But I'm very excited. I think we can make some really great positive strides. These girls really want to improve."
New Albany shot a 398 in last year's Division I sectional tournament at Raymond Memorial to place sixth behind district-qualifiers Jerome (301), Olentangy Liberty (353) and Marysville (363). Abby Widman shot an 88 to qualify for district as an individual, followed by Stella Choe (101), Karly Medich (102), Emily Wilken (107) and Dressel (109).
At district, Widman shot an 88, behind individual state-qualifiers Tess Fraser of Marysville (74) and Jackie Hobson of UA (77).
Widman, Choe and Wilken graduated and Medich, a senior, chose not to play this season.
The Eagles went 13-11 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to finish fourth behind Jerome (24-0), Liberty (18-6) and Dublin Scioto (16-8) and ahead of Westerville Central (8-16), Orange (4-20) and Olentangy (1-23).
New Albany opened Aug. 13 in the Top 19 Invitational at Blacklick Woods and began league play Aug. 15 at The Links at Groveport with the first of four OCC-Cardinal tournaments.
"I'm not sure what to expect," Sycher said. "But we have some good chemistry. The girls are really supportive of each other."