Two consecutive Division I state tournament appearances, not to mention four OCC-Capital Division championships in a row, indicate the kind of talent the New Albany High School boys golf team boasts seemingly every year.
But coach Andrew Norman admits he expects to fully earn his paycheck in his 11th season. New Albany lost three of its top five golfers from last year, including Drexel-signee Avery Schneider as well as another three-year varsity player in Jackson Moss and two-year letterwinner Jackson Kallner.
"We lose talent every year, but the guys we graduated last year were so important to the program for so long. Their experience was invaluable," Norman said. "That experience at the district level goes a long way. We got to state two years in a row. And in a situation like this where you lose a lot of guys, then there's no question that the guys who are still here absolutely have to step up."
New Albany returns two members of its top five in seniors Austin McNutt and Matt Wininger, both of whom averaged in the upper 70s last year. They are joined on varsity by seniors Daniel Kreiman and Andrew Thompson, juniors Matt Bonadies and Austin Gliha and sophomore Austin Masturzo.
According to Norman, Bonadies is recovering from a wrist injury.
Norman also said McNutt was particularly impressive in tryouts, shooting a 70 in one round and averaging 74 overall.
"The school record is 68, and I think with the way Austin can get dialed in, that record is within reach," said Norman, noting that McNutt's older brother, Ryan, hit that mark in September 2009 -- only to have it tied by 2013 graduate Jack Carter in 2012 and twice by Schneider last year.
Schneider's second round of 68 came at district, where New Albany placed third and earned the final state-qualifying berth.
Schneider shot a team-best 167 at state last year, when New Albany shot 672 as a team to finish ninth behind champion Dublin Jerome (641), which won its third consecutive title. Schneider and Wininger both shot 73 in a sectional to lead New Albany to first place.
New Albany went 27-1 in the OCC-Capital last year, finishing ahead of runner-up Olentangy (24-4).
The Eagles won their first league tournament this season, shooting 314 as a team Aug. 7 at Apple Valley to finish ahead of Olentangy Orange (318), Mount Vernon (321), Olentangy (323), Delaware (331), Big Walnut (350) and Worthington Kilbourne (360). Franklin Heights did not record a team score.
McNutt shot 76 and Wininger 77 for New Albany, followed by Masturzo (80), Gliha (81) and Bonadies (84).
"If these guys work hard, they're going to be competitive. We'll see how they handle it," Norman said.
"I feel confident in any of my guys to have good rounds. I expect (McNutt) and (Win-inger) to be consistent. We've had strong upperclassmen in the past, and we'll need to again."
Records, Archer to lead girls golfers
Girls golf coach Darryl Sycher's best-laid plans for this season were dealt a blow several weeks ago when senior Megan Dressel, the Eagles' top player last year, decided not to return.
Even so, Sycher was encouraged by his team's early performances. New Albany shot 422 in its first OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 6 at The Links at Groveport, and dropped 39 shots the next day in finishing fourth of eight teams in the Canal Winchester Invitational at Westchester.
"That impressed me," said Sycher, who is in his ninth season. "We had the mindset that while (Westchester) was a long course in terms of walking, it wasn't so long that we couldn't shoot well. We finished in the top half of the field. I really liked what I saw."
Junior Maggie Records shot a personal-best round of 88 at Westchester, followed by junior Maggie Archer (92), senior Ellie Billisits (94) and sophomore newcomer Kyley Reams (109).
On Aug. 6, New Albany placed fifth behind Dublin Jerome (306), Olentangy Liberty (365), Olentangy (371) and Pickerington Central (408) and ahead of Orange (430) and Delaware (490). Billisits led the Eagles with a 96, followed by Archer (100), Records (103), senior Katelyn Shea (123) and sophomore Alex Lammers (126).
According to Sycher, Lammers, Reams and junior Lexi Tillotson will play both varsity and junior varsity.
"There's not a huge gap in talent," Sycher said. "The girls who are newer, they just need to play more and get a feel for what's expected. That's the key. Putting undue pressure on them won't help. If (Aug. 7) was any indicator, it could be a turning point for us. At the end of the day, the girls know they can improve."
The Eagles were 41-43 overall and 8-16 in the OCC-Cardinal last year, fifth behind champion Jerome (24-0).
Aug. 6 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Little Turtle
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley
Aug. 8 -- Mount Vernon Invitational at Chapel Hill
Aug. 12 -- OCC-Capital at Darby Creek
Aug. 14 -- Centerville Elk Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 16 -- Cincinnati Sycamore Invitational at Blue Ash
Aug. 18 -- Gahanna Invitational at Little Turtle
Aug. 19 -- New Albany Invitational at Winding Hollow
Aug. 23 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Ponds
Aug. 27 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry
Aug. 28 -- St. Charles at New Albany Country Club
Aug. 30 -- Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle
Sept. 6 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 8 -- Wooster Generals Invitational at Wooster Country Club
Sept. 10 -- OCC-Capital at Clover Valley
Sept. 13 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Scioto Country Club
Sept. 20 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club
Sept. 27 -- Watterson Invitational at Clover Valley
Aug. 6 -- OCC-Cardinal at The Links at Groveport
Aug. 7 -- Canal Winchester Invitational at Westchester
Aug. 8 -- Panther Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 11 -- Early Birdie Invitational at Champions
Aug. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Westchester
Aug. 14 -- Olentangy Liberty at Scioto Reserve
Aug. 18 -- Hilliard Bradley at Rolling Meadows
Aug. 19 -- Pickerington Central at Winding Hollow
Aug. 21 -- Olentangy at Oakhaven
Aug. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal at Royal American
Aug. 28 -- DeSales at Winding Hollow
Sept. 2 -- Watkins Memorial at Broadview
Sept. 3 -- Hilliard Bradley at Winding Hollow
Sept. 9 -- OCC-Cardinal at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 10 -- Olentangy Liberty at Winding Hollow
Sept. 16 -- DeSales at Champions
Sept. 18 -- Watkins Memorial at Winding Hollow
Sept. 24 -- Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Sept. 25 -- Olentangy at Winding Hollow