Several moments have reminded New Albany High School girls golf coach Darryl Sycher how much his team has progressed this year.
One in particular symbolized why he's optimistic they can show much more.
Junior Megan Dressel, the team's top golfer for the second consecutive year, made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 124-yard No. 2 at Westchester during the third OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Aug. 27. According to Sycher, his research determined it was the first ace in the program's 11-year history.
"She was certainly happy," Sycher said. "For a few minutes anyway, the spotlight shone on us. And it reminds the team that there's always room to improve. We're definitely not regressing."
Dressel entered the week averaging 82 per 18 holes, followed by senior Madison Fixari (87). The Eagles' Nos. 3-6 golfers -- senior Amanda Giroux, junior Ellie Billisits and sophomores Maggie Archer and Maggie Records -- were averaging from the mid-90s to low 100s.
New Albany entered the week with a 32-34 record, matching its wins in last year's 32-49 season.
The team has been averaging around 190 per nine-hole match. New Albany's best 18-hole score was 363, set Aug. 8 in the Worthington Kilbourne Invitational at Glenross, as the Eagles were 10th behind champion Dublin Coffman (283) in a 17-team field.
New Albany played in the final OCC-Cardinal tournament Sept. 10 at Oak-haven. The Eagles were 6-12, fifth behind Dublin Jerome (18-0), Olentangy Liberty (15-3), Olentangy (11-7) and Dublin Scioto (10-8) and ahead of Pickerington Central (3-15) and Olentangy Orange (0-18).
Sycher said perhaps the team's most important victory came Aug. 28, when the Eagles defeated Thomas Worthington 186-187 at Winding Hollow. Dressel shot 43, followed closely by Fixari (44) and Billisits (47).
"I think Thomas Worthington is one of the top 10 teams in the district. It was a satisfying victory," Sycher said. "I really think this team has the potential to drop 10 or so shots per nine holes, and 20 or 25 per 18, in the next few weeks. If we can get two girls in the 80s and two or three more in the 90s, that can take us down to the 370s or even the 360s in tournaments. That can make a huge difference."
Boys golf team thriving on depth
Senior Jackson Moss, who figured prominently in the boys golf team's fourth-place finish in the Division I state tournament last year, was averaging 74 per 18 holes entering the week.
Having seen the Eagles finish in the top three in eight of their first nine tournaments, not to mention erasing an eight-shot deficit through nine holes to win the third of four OCC-Capital tournaments Aug. 28 at Turnberry, Moss' expectations are rising.
"If our (third, fourth and fifth) guys keep stepping up like they have, we could be even better than last year," said Moss, who averaged 74.9 per 18 holes last year and shot a 69 in the second OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 12 at Darby Creek. "I am pretty sure our best golf is ahead of us."
Junior Austin McNutt carded seven birdies and shot a 70 to lead New Albany in the Akron Hoban Invitational on Sept. 1 at Firestone West, in which the Eagles tied Upper Arlington for third (291) behind champion Cincinnati Moeller (288) in a 13-team field.
Moss and classmate Avery Schneider both shot 72 at Firestone West.
Schneider also was averaging 74 entering the week. Senior Jackson Kallner and junior Matt Wininger also have been in the top five this season.
The Eagles entered the final OCC-Capital tournament Sept. 11 at Granville Golf Course in first place at 20-1, ahead of Olentangy (19-2) and Mount Vernon (13-8). New Albany edged Olentangy in the third round, 306-310.
"I've told the guys I'd like for them to lower their average by one or two strokes in the next few weeks, and all of them agree that's pretty reachable," coach Andrew Norman said. "I feel pretty blessed. Not too many teams have five guys averaging in the 70s. Everyone has stepped up and been a medalist at one point or another."
New water polo coach getting to know team
Seniors Max Glick and Griffin Spychalski will help lead the boys club water polo team under first-year coach J.J. Spangler, a 2010 Upper Arlington graduate and state champion swimmer.
Spangler was an assistant coach to John Coffman the past two seasons. As a senior at UA, he was Division I state champion in the 100-yard freestyle.
The Eagles, who were 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the Ohio Water Polo-North Region last year, began their season with a 17-5 loss at UA on Sept. 4. They were 0-3 in the Ohio Cup on Sept. 7, losing to host Thomas (17-6), Mason (11-3) and Milford (10-5).
"We've been at it for a couple weeks now getting through drills. They've looked pretty much fundamentally sound," Spangler said. "We're just working on getting the ball to the outside (and doing the) basic things in (water) polo. Good teams are the ones who have those basics down and have a really strong core to help the athletes get to that next level."
Spangler also will coach a girls team, but rosters and schedules for both teams had not been finalized as of late last week.