With no seniors in its lineup a year ago, the Dublin Coffman High School girls golf team edged Dublin Jerome on the fifth-player tiebreaker to capture its first Division I district championship since 2000.
Less than two weeks later at state, the Shamrocks had to settle for fourth (646) as the Celtics shot 629 to win their second consecutive championship.
Coffman, which returned all five of its state participants from last fall, has finished ahead of Jerome in seven of the 10 events in which both have competed this year, including the nine-team district tournament Oct. 8 at The Links at Groveport.
The Shamrocks, who are intent on not taking a step back at state this season, shot 300 to win their second district title in a row. The Celtics secured the other state-qualifying berth with a 308, finishing well ahead of third-place Watterson (361).
Advancing as individuals to the state tournament Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19, at Ohio State's Gray Course were Watterson junior Erin Harper, who carded a 72, and Gahanna junior Emily Hughes, who shot 78.
"We didn't play well at state last year, but everyone came back and we're a lot older now," said Coffman junior Lexie Long, who was district medalist with a 70. "We've been working really hard as a team and we've got to keep working hard."
Also scoring for Coffman were senior Kylie Raines (73), junior Kamerine Taylor (75) and senior Charley Benefield (82).
According to coach Randy Patton, the Shamrocks are averaging 301 for 18 holes, have won their last six tournaments and are 204-7 overall this season.
"It means a lot (to win district) just with me being a senior, and it shows how much we've improved from a year ago," said Raines, who has verbally committed to Eastern Michigan University. "A couple of us switched golf coaches, and our confidence grew a lot in the summer and from just practicing."
A year ago at state, Jerome was four strokes out of the lead after the first round but rallied to finish one stroke ahead of runner-up Medina Highland (630). Massillon Jackson (637) placed third and Mason (651) was fifth.
Celtics coach C.D. Butcher believes Highland, Jackson and Mason should contend for the state title in addition to his team and Coffman.
Jerome's lineup features three returnees, including senior Lexie Toth, who shot 74 at district. Also scoring for the Celtics at district were freshman Marianna Erana (77) and juniors Maite Erana (78) and Sybil Robinson (79).
Last year at state, Toth tied for fourth and Maite Erana tied for ninth.
"Our girls were extremely ready to play, but we just didn't get any putts to drop," Butcher said. "There aren't many teams in the state with four players shooting in the 70s. Coffman is still proving to be the team to beat, but we feel we can beat any team in the state on a given day. We know (Ohio State's Gray Course) as well as anybody."
Harper finished second overall at district to qualify for state for the second consecutive season.
"My goal is obviously to individually have the lowest score," said Harper, who lives in Dublin. "I feel like I've matured mentally since last year, so when I get 2- or 3-over (par), I can come back strong with a few birdies."
Also competing at district for Watterson were freshman Abigail Meyers (93), junior Avery Wakefield (93) and junior Ellie Kairis (103).
Hughes advanced to state individually for the first time. She carded 79 at district a year ago, finishing five strokes behind the final state qualifier. She competed at state in 2011 when Gahanna qualified as a team and finished eighth.
Thomas Worthington, which was making its second consecutive district appearance and third in program history, finished fourth (373) to set a program record. Senior Ally Lucas led the Cardinals with an 80, with senior Claudia Podolski (95), junior Sydney Kelly (98) and senior Madison Morman (100) also scoring.
"The way the course played, it was tough for the girls," Thomas coach Laurie Barr said. "We had a great season."
Seasons end for Central, Davenport
Central expects to return three of its top players after making its second district appearance, with the other coming in 2005.
The Warhawks placed eighth (389) as senior Emma O'Brien led with a 91 and junior Ana Borish had a 92.
Other key players for Central were senior Alexandra Hansen, junior Melissa Kirwin and sophomore Ellyn Briggs.
"Both my seniors hit 25-foot putts to finish par (on their last hole), so I know they were pretty happy about that," coach Steve Stewart said.
Also competing at district was South junior Felicia Davenport, who shot an 81 to finish three strokes from advancing to state.
In the OCC-Capital, Central tied Hilliard Bradley for fourth (18-14) behind champion Coffman (32-0). South was sixth (11-21) and North went 2-30.
South loses senior Kaitlin Carlisle but is eligible to return sophomores Kirsten Doty, Kaitlyn Dreher and Kieley Stroupe, in addition to Davenport.
North's lineup featured sophomores Phoebe Alicardi, Diana Asta and Zoe Willan and freshmen Kaylee Joseph and Lizzy Nelson.