For the first time under third-year coach Roger Allen, the Big Walnut High School boys lacrosse team enters the postseason with a winning record.
The Golden Eagles, who were 8-6 overall before playing Buckeye Valley on May 12, are seeded 10th of 17 teams in the Division II, Region 7 tournament. They will open the postseason Tuesday, May 16, at seventh-seeded Dayton Oakwood in a second-round game.
The winner plays at second-seeded DeSales or 15th-seeded Wellington in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 19, with that winner advancing to a regional semifinal May 23.
"We've made tremendous progress ... obviously, our record reflects that," said Allen, whose team beat Wellington 14-4 on May 9. "I think our guys believe in themselves and recognize what's gotten us this far is team play."
With a smaller roster, Big Walnut must combat its lack of depth.
"They recognize that they have to play a team brand of lacrosse and assist on as many goals as we can," Allen said. "When we do that and move the ball and are efficient with our possession, good things happen."
Big Walnut, which finished 5-10 overall last season and 3-14 in 2015, was 7-0 in non-league contests before facing Buckeye Valley. It finished 1-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
Allen noted improvement in many facets of the game, including goals for, goals against, goal differential, assists and saves. Through 14 games, the Golden Eagles had assisted on 59 percent of their goals, Allen said.
Nathan Montgomery (27 goals, 6 assists), Campbell Allen (24 goals, 40 assists), Judah Lozano (14 goals, 11 assists), Seth Daniels (14 goals, 10 assists) and Joe Blubaugh (16 goals) were leading the offense through 14 games, while goalkeeper Josh Hageman was averaging 11.3 saves per game.
Girls lacrosse team
The girls lacrosse team entered its Division II, Region 7 tournament opener with the opportunity to make history. In eight seasons, Big Walnut has never won a postseason contest.
The Golden Eagles played host to Centennial, a team it defeated 15-4 on April 12 and 13-6 on May 5, in a first-round game May 13. The winner plays at DeSales in a second-round game Wednesday, May 17, with that winner playing host to Granville or Oakwood in a regional quarterfinal Saturday, May 20.
The quarterfinal winner advances to a regional semifinal May 24.
"Everyone goes into the tournament with different aspirations," coach Steve Palmer said. "I really like the energy this team has right now. We've taken another step this season. We'd love to win every game, but the realization is we're still in the developing stages."
Big Walnut was 4-9-1 overall before closing the regular season May 11 against Delaware. It finished 1-6 in the OCC-Buckeye.
One player who has developed over the years is four-year starter Emily Hall. The senior goalie, who has committed to play for Ursuline College, recently surpassed 400 career saves. She was averaging 9.5 per contest through 14 games this season.
Cassady Becker, who scored four goals in a 13-10 league loss to Westerville North on May 4, had a team-high 38 goals through 11 games.
Big Walnut lost to Gahanna 13-6 on May 9. Becker scored three goals and Maria Boyer, Megan Helber and Jenna Allen each scored one.
Track teams set
for district meet
The track and field teams enter the Division I district meet hoping to capitalize on their strengths in the field and distance events.
The boys will be competing in the 15-team district 4 meet at Westerville South. The field events are Tuesday, May 16, followed by preliminaries for the running events Thursday May 18, and finals for the running events Saturday May 20.
The girls will be competing in the 17-team district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby. The field events are May 16, followed by preliminaries for the running events Wednesday, May 17, and finals for the running events May 20.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North.
"I continue to be impressed with the young team," girls coach Joe Evener said. "Every week they battle their hearts out and amaze me."
The girls team finished third (81 points) behind host Olentangy Orange (153) and Olentangy Liberty (111) in the Delaware County Elite 8 meet May 5. Also competing were Olentangy (56), Delaware (47), Buckeye Valley (27), Delaware Christian (8) and Village Academy (7).
Kaley Rammelsberg led the Golden Eagles, winning the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches), placing third in both the 100-meter hurdles (15.61 seconds) and 300 hurdles (49.95) and finishing fifth in the long jump (15-5).
The 3,200 relay of Kaitlin Meade, Becca Bogantz, Adelee Gartner and Emma Padgett shaved five seconds off the 21-year-old school record by placing second in 9:50.72.
Other second-place finishers were Maddie Swank in the discus (113-3 1/2), Meade in the 800 (2:21.99) and the 1,600 relay of Tori Buxton, Gartner, Hanna Pinkston and Meade (4:33).
The boys team produced four champions on its way to a third-place finish (75) in the Elite 8 meet, behind Orange (163) and Olentangy (76.5) and ahead of Liberty (73), Buckeye Valley (55.5), Delaware (31) and Village Academy (18).
Finishing first were Brandon Mosher in the shot put (52-10 1/2), Abe Myers in the discus (164-10 1/2), Mitchell Truax in the pole vault (11-6) and Tim Rumas in the 100 (11.04).
Rumas took second in the 200 (22.45), while placing third were Caleb Ramey in the long jump (19-9 3/4) and the 800 relay of Josh Kem, Philip Roberto, Dante Chhuom and Shane Swartzentruber (1:36.31).
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet May 10 and 13 at Dublin Coffman.
Baseball team reaches
The baseball team will be looking to advance to a district final for the third consecutive season when it faces 23rd-seeded Westerville North in a Division I district semifinal Tuesday, May, 16, at a neutral site to be determined.
The winner plays top-seeded Grove City or 24th-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district final Thursday, May 18, at a neutral site to be determined. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 25 at Dublin Coffman.
Big Walnut, seeded eighth of 46 teams, opened the postseason by defeating 39th-seeded Newark 7-1 in a second-round game May 10, improving to 20-5. The Golden Eagles had a first-round bye.
Austin Becker did not allow any hits in five innings against Newark. The junior, who has committed to Vanderbilt University, had nine strikeouts and two walks.
Big Walnut reached a regional semifinal last season before losing to Gahanna 10-5. In 2015, it won its first district championship in 41 years and its first regional title before falling to Defiance 8-1 in a Division II state semifinal.
The softball team opened the Division II district tournament against seventh-seeded Bexley in a second-round game May 11.
Big Walnut, seeded fourth of 22 teams, had a first-round bye.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Bloom-Carroll or 14th-seeded Licking Valley in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 16, at a neutral site to be determined. That winner likely will face top-seeded Lakewood, the defending state champion, in a district final Friday, May 19, or Saturday, May 20, at Pickerington Central.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 24 at Central.
Big Walnut, which played Mount Vernon in a regular-season contest May 12, was 15-7 before playing Bexley.
Boys tennis team
competes at sectional
The boys tennis team competed in a Division I sectional May 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg, where the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district Thursday, May 18, at Hilliard Davidson and Saturday, May 20, at Upper Arlington.
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state May 26 and 27 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Big Walnut improved to 13-4 with a 3-2 win over Delaware on May 9.