It might sound odd coming from the coach of a team that already is in the driver's seat to win its seventh consecutive league championship, but New Albany High School boys golf coach Andy Norman nonetheless hopes for at least one thing this season.

"We want to surprise some people this year," he said.

Junior Logan Spiess looks to build on his top-10 finish in last year's Division I state tournament, and Moore will rely on him and senior Spencer Green to provide stability at the top of the lineup as the rest of the lineup is sorted out.

"We have two proven scorers, and now it's a matter of how quickly can the other guys become consistent?" said Moore, who is in his third season. "We don't need (rounds in the) 70s from the other guys because Logan and Spencer will go fairly low quite a bit. If we can get some guys shooting 80 and 81 or better on a regular basis, we'll be pretty competitive."

New Albany shot a 311 in the first round of the four-round OCC-Capital Division tournament Aug. 8 at Clover Valley, finishing ahead of Big Walnut (313), Canal Winchester (366) and Newark (403). Franklin Heights and Groveport did not record team scores.

Spiess shot a 74, ahead of sophomore Caleb Delaney (78), junior Griffin Green (79), Spencer Green (80) and sophomore Jack Curtis (85).

The Eagles were 20-0 in the OCC-Capital last year, ahead of runner-up Big Walnut (16-4).

Griffin Green had a memorable varsity debut, shooting a 74 to lead the Eagles on Aug. 4 in the Thomas Worthington Invitational at Delaware Country Club. New Albany finished seventh (321) of 15 teams behind champion Olentangy (303).

Spiess shot a 76 at state last year to tie six others for ninth place. He missed the first two tournaments of the season because he was in Florida attempting to qualify for an Optimist Tour event.

"I think Logan realizes now that he can play with anybody in the state," Moore said. "He's a humble player, and maybe some of his success is starting to rub off on the Green brothers.

"Logan and Spencer are consistent. They don't take chances they don't need to take. There's much more planning about what they do now. They won't shoot 72 in one round and then 82 the next. They'll be between 72 and 78 consistently."

Rounding out the roster are senior Justin Drago and sophomore Jacob Brooks.

"If things come together, I can picture us at 310 (for an 18-hole tournament), definitely below 320, by the end of the year," Moore said. "In this district, we'll have to shoot that well to even think about (getting to state)."

New girls golf coach
sees talent, promise

As far as new girls golf coach Rich Ritter is concerned, the Eagles have nowhere to go but up with promising underclassmen coming off a solid season in 2016.

Senior Abby Wilcox, junior Morgan Pankow and sophomore Gwynnie Lee return from New Albany's first Division I district tournament-qualifying team since 2011.

"We are fortunate to have a number of players returning from last season, including most of the core of the squad," Ritter said.

"We also are glad to be adding some real strength to the lineup with the incoming freshman class. (We are) definitely a team that has been on the rise in the last couple of years and that trend will continue this season."

Ritter replaced Darryl Sycher, who retired in January after 12 seasons. Sycher suffered a heart attack Jan. 2 and stepped down nine days later.

Ritter, who played collegiately at Ohio Wesleyan, has been local tour director for the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation since 2012.

New Albany went 11-17 in the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament last year, finishing fifth behind Dublin Jerome and eventual Division I state champion Olentangy Orange (both 26-2). The Eagles finished ninth at district as the top three teams advanced to state.

Now in the OCC-Central as part of the conference's girls golf realignment, the Eagles played the first round of the league tournament Aug. 9 at Cooks Creek. Pankow's round of 77 led New Albany to a team score of 408, sixth behind Upper Arlington (299), Dublin Coffman (324), Hilliard Davidson (369), Canal Winchester (384) and Marysville (406).

Rounding out the roster are juniors Daley Juschka and Mimi Tanchevski, sophomore Nina Molnar and freshmen Nora Bounemany and Madison Spiess.

"The things that have impressed me the most about the team thus far is a combination of their camaraderie with each other and their desire to learn ways to get better as individual players and as a team," Ritter said. "We are working extensively on our short game and mental toughness at this point and expect to focus on these areas throughout the season."

Tennis coach
sorting out lineup

Two Division I state qualifiers were among the girls tennis team's three losses to graduation, but seventh-year coach Marc Thomas is just as concerned with replacing the leadership Taylor Selby, Christina Vitellas and classmate Jessica Von Zastrow provided.

"We have some good key pieces, but the big thing we lost was leadership," said Thomas, whose team opens Thursday, Aug. 17, at Westerville North. "They were great players, and we've had a run of some very good teams, but this year will be one where we will have to find our identity early in the season. We must work hard in doubles; we must win some doubles courts. Every match, the key girl could be someone different."

Senior Emma Waite and juniors Valentina DiLorenzo, Elizabeth Hancock and Alexandra Vitellas return from last year's team that went 11-8 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Capital to win its 10th league championship in 11 years, ahead of runner-up Big Walnut (4-1).

Selby and Vitellas extended New Albany's run of representation at state to nine consecutive years, and went 0-1 in doubles.

DiLorenzo was a district qualifier, teaming with Von Zastrow in doubles.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Madison Koenig, Ashley Li and Makena Romagnano and sophomore Thalia Fuentes.

The Eagles begin league play Aug. 24 at home against Newark, one day after their home opener against Orange.

"We still have work left to do to define the lineup," Thomas said. "I want to get all the girls some work at doubles, and we'll see what pairings work best. This is a good batch of seniors. I think we can surprise some people. I truly believe this team can do some great things."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 4 -- Thomas Worthington Invitational at Delaware Country Club

Aug. 5 -- Fairfield Federal Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 7 -- Lexington Invitational at Westbrook

Aug. 8 -- OCC-Capital at Clover Valley

Aug. 9 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Rattlesnake Ridge

Aug. 10 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Links

Aug. 14 -- OCC-Capital at Darby Creek

Aug. 15 -- Dublin Invitational at Golf Club of Dublin

Aug. 19 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Ponds

Aug. 21 -- Pickerington North at Clover Valley

Aug. 26 -- Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle

Aug. 30 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry

Sept. 9 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley

Sept. 16 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club

Sept. 18 -- Wooster Generals Invitational at Wooster Country Club

Sept. 23 -- Wedgewood High School Showcase at Wedgewood

Sept. 30 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Tartan Fields

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 7 -- Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson

Aug. 9 -- OCC-Central at Cooks Creek

Aug. 11 -- Olentangy Invitational at Oakhaven

Aug. 15 -- OCC-Central at Westchester

Aug. 19 -- Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines

Aug. 21 -- Centerville Elk Invitational at The Golf Club at Yankee Trace

Aug. 23 -- Dublin Coffman and Olentangy Liberty at TBD

Aug. 26 -- Bear-Lion Open at Cooks Creek

Aug. 28 -- Lexington Elite Invitational at Westbrook

Aug. 29 -- OCC-Central at Mentel Memorial

Sept. 2 -- Celtic Invitational at TBD

Sept. 7 -- Westerville Central at Royal American

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Royal American

Sept. 14 -- Westerville Central at New Albany Country Club

Sept. 16 -- Springfield Shawnee Invitational at Reid Park

Sept. 26 -- Dublin Coffman at Rattlesnake Ridge

Sept. 28 -- Dublin Coffman at New Albany Country Club

Sept. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational at Westchester

Oct. 7 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at The Links at Groveport

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 17 -- at Westerville North

Aug. 19 -- Watterson Invitational at Park of Roses

Aug. 21 -- at Pickerington Central

Aug. 23 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

*Aug. 24 -- vs. Newark

*Aug. 29 -- at Big Walnut

Aug. 30 -- vs. Olentangy

*Aug. 31 -- vs. Groveport

*Sept. 5 -- at Canal Winchester

*Sept. 7 -- vs. Franklin Heights

Sept. 11 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 13 -- at Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 14 -- vs. Westerville Central

Sept. 18 -- at Gahanna

Sept. 25 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 26 -- vs. Watterson

Sept. 27 -- at Dublin Jerome

Sept. 28 -- at Columbus Academy

Oct. 3 -- at Pickerington North

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 21 -- New Albany Classic

FIELD HOCKEY

*Aug. 23 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Marysville

Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Granville

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 22 -- At Licking Heights

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 19 -- Marysville Spike-Off Invitational

Aug. 22 -- At Westerville North

Aug. 23 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg

*League contest