The Pickerington High School North girls golf team captured its fifth league championship in seven seasons and is the favorite to win the fifth sectional title in program history when it competes Tuesday, Oct. 2, at The Links at Groveport.
If the Panthers could put together four scores in the high 70s and low 80s on the same day, then coach Kitty McGrievy believes they'd really be on to something.
After settling for second in the OCC-Ohio Division a year ago behind Gahanna, North went 28-0 to win the title ahead of Upper Arlington (24-4), Watkins Memorial (20-8), Thomas Worthington (13-15), Gahanna (12-16), Hilliard Davidson (11-17), Lancaster (4-24) and Hilliard Darby (0-28). The Panthers won OCC-Ohio titles from 2006-08 and also in 2010.
"I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied," McGrievy said. "I feel as though we never had that one match where we had four (great) scores. It's great to win the OCC, and our league was about as competitive as there was this year. We just have to put four scores together."
North is the third seed for the Division I postseason behind defending state champion Dublin Jerome and Dublin Coffman. While Jerome is at the Oakhaven sectional and Coffman is going to Mentel Memorial, the Panthers will be joined at The Links at Groveport by fifth-seeded Olentangy Liberty and 10th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the nine-team field.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance from each sectional to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
North won its first sectional title in 2006 at Mill Creek and captured titles at The Links at Groveport in 2007, 2008 and last season. The Panthers won the second round of the league tournament Aug. 28 at Groveport with a 335 and regularly practiced on the course in recent years.
Senior Gabby Milam finished second in stroke average in the OCC-Ohio at 79.25, behind Gahanna's Emily Hughes (77.75). Senior Alissa Davis averaged 81.75 to also make first-team all-league.
Junior Kristin Oliphant averaged 86.25 and sophomore Krista Moore averaged 88.25 to each make second-team all-league. Junior Shayleigh Holbrook averaged 90 in league play.
While Milam has been a key player since late in her freshman season, Davis joined the program last year after moving from Georgia. Davis has verbally committed to Northern Kentucky and Milam is sifting through a list of Division III colleges.
"(Winning the league) was one of our goals this year since we didn't win it last year," Milam said. "Our top three scores have always been real on the spot this year and I'm pretty happy with how it's been going for my senior year. It's just been fun because we've all become really good friends."
Tigers coach happy with 'steady' play
Central will open the postseason Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Oakhaven sectional. Others at the site include Jerome, fourth-seeded Watterson and seventh-seeded Hilliard Bradley.
The Tigers went 2-22 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish behind Jerome (24-0), Liberty (20-4), Olentangy Orange (16-8), Olentangy (12-12) and Dublin Scioto and New Albany (both 5-19).
They earned a win in the third round of the league tournament Sept. 5 at Mentel Memorial because Scioto didn't have enough players to post a team score. Central picked up its other league victory in the final round Sept. 11 at Cooks Creek when it shot 437 and New Albany carded 443.
"It's been steady," first-year coach Rebecca Van Horn said. "We have a couple who have dropped scores here and there and hopefully we can encourage them to come back and play in the summer."
Junior Christy Conley, who also was among the top six players last season for Central, has been averaging 43 for nine holes, according to Van Horn. She shot 89 on Sept. 11 in the final round of the league tournament.
Freshmen Kiera Harper and Caitlin Tarr are others eligible to return who have impressed Van Horn.
Allison Foit is a senior who has been with the program since her freshman year. The only other seniors are Rachel Rademaker and Jelynn Smith, and both are new to the sport.
"We had one week where we had four players out with injuries," Van Horn said. "Even if we don't have a lot of experience again next year, I'd just like to build our numbers up."