Macie Kercsmar represented the Big Walnut High School girls tennis team in the Division I district tournament last season. This year, the senior has her eyes on a spot in the state tournament.
A year ago, Kercsmar became Big Walnut's first district qualifier since 2008, losing to Dublin Jerome's Emily Neal 6-0, 6-1 in the first round. Two victories in the district tournament assures a state berth.
This year's postseason starts with sectional competition Oct. 5 and 7.
"It's definitely something that's motivated me to work harder," Kercsmar said. "After training in the offseason, coaches helped me a lot to get to where I want to be. Just doing those little things and staying on top of myself and having that support from everyone will definitely help me."
Kercsmar's hard work has translated into a strong start. She was 10-0 after a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Hilliard Davidson's Grace Wilson on Sept. 6.
The Golden Eagles defeated Davidson 3-2 to improve to 7-1 overall and were 3-0 in the OCC-Capital Division entering their home match against Groveport on Sept. 7.
"She's never been a kid who needs any extra motivation," coach Ryan Balaz said. "She's always on the court wanting to get better. I know making districts was a big goal for her. ... Making districts last year reaffirmed for her the hard work she's putting in will pay off."
The hunger to reach district began when Kercsmar was a sophomore and lost a district-qualifying match 6-3, 6-3 to Thomas Worthington's Mariella Briones. Since then, she has focused on doing the "little things" to improve her game, especially around the net.
"I've definitely gotten more aggressive, and I've been able to go for more shots," Kercsmar said. "I want to be up at the net and finishing those points out and staying consistent."
"She's worked hard to improve her serve and finish points around the net," Balaz said. "She's always been really consistent from the baseline."
Kercsmar began playing tennis in kindergarten when her mother enrolled her in a summer camp. Her mother plays in leagues at The Lakes Golf and Country Club in Westerville, and the two often spend time on the court together.
"It's really become a family thing," Kercsmar said. "My little sister is getting into it, too. Megan is an eighth-grader who is considering playing next year."
Kercsmar is doing her best to help Big Walnut improve on last season, when it finished 12-7 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital, behind New Albany (5-0). The Golden Eagles play host to New Albany on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
"I've worked the past four years really hard in the season and offseason," she said. "I've got really encouraging parents and coaches. The team, we all push each other to participate in the offseason and hit with each other, if we can."
Football team facing
tough test in Orange
The football team will face a stern test Friday, Sept. 15, when it plays host to Olentangy Orange.
The Pioneers are 3-0 after defeating Dublin Jerome 31-7 on Sept. 8 and had allowed only one touchdown in victories over Watterson (22-0 on Sept. 1) and Worthington Kilbourne (32-7 on Aug. 25).
Orange held Kilbourne to just 82 total yards and limited Watterson to only 46 yards rushing.
The Pioneers' defense is led by 6-foot-6, 245-pound junior defensive lineman Zach Harrison, linebackers Bryce Houston and Zane Fisher and Jayden Rodgers in the secondary.
Harrison suffered a knee injury against Watterson and his status for the game against Jerome was unknown as of Sept. 6.
Rodgers had two interceptions through two games.
"We have a lot of experience on that side of the ball," Pioneers coach Zebb Schroeder said. "It's just a good chemistry group. Our defensive staff has been together three, four years. Our seniors have been on the defense for four years. We're coaching so much more of the finer details because they understand the big picture."
The Golden Eagles, who lost to Orange 47-0 last season, were looking for their first victory when they played Sept. 7 at Dublin Scioto but lost 51-21.
Big Walnut fell to 0-2 with a 21-14 overtime loss to visiting Kilbourne on Sept. 1.
The Golden Eagles outgained Kilbourne 381-225 in total yards, including rushing for 310 yards. Running back Abe Myers led Big Walnut, rushing for 203 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
Myers has rushed for 266 yards on 43 carries through two games for the Golden Eagles, who lost at Johnstown 3-0 in their opener Aug. 25.
Boys golfers eyeing
second place in OCC
The boys golf team is positioned for a second-place finish in the OCC-Capital heading into the fourth and final round of the league tournament Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Apple Valley.
Big Walnut is 12-3 in the league, behind New Albany (15-0) and ahead of Canal Winchester (9-6), Newark (6-9), Groveport (2-13) and Franklin Heights (0-15).
Senior Michael Ford is leading the Golden Eagles with a 73.7 league average, followed by junior Zack Herbert (80.3), senior Michael Ruark (81.7), sophomore Kenny Schneider (87.0) and sophomore Tyler Garner (91.3).
"I've got three guys I can determine and have a feel for what they're going to shoot," coach Chuck Workman said. "The other sophomores and the freshman are inconsistent right now, but I guess that's to be expected."
Workman is working toward solidifying his lineup in time for the Division I sectional tournament Oct. 3. A year ago, Big Walnut finished a disappointing eighth at sectional with an experienced group of seniors.
"I keep getting guys who shoot a good score, and the next day they shoot a high score," said Workman, whose team is averaging 323. "Coaches like a little bit of consistency so they can plan."
Others on the team include freshman Austin Bennett, sophomore Reno Overbaugh and junior Nate Dimitroff.
The girls golf team is 3-12 in the OCC-Ohio entering the fourth and final round of the league tournament Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Mentel Memorial.
Big Walnut is fifth in the league, behind Pickerington North (14-1), Gahanna (13-2), Grove City (8-7) and Pickerington Central (7-8) and ahead of Lancaster (0-15).
Sophomore Jenna Allen did not play in the first round for the Golden Eagles but had a 97 average in the second and third rounds, while junior Sydnie Wright has a 97.7 average through three rounds.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 16 -- Otterbein Invitational
Sept. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley
Sept. 14 -- DeSales at Royal American
Sept. 16 -- Rodney Butt Classic at Dennison Golf Club at Granville
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Ohio at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 13 -- Westerville Central at Bent Tree
*Sept. 12 -- At Canal Winchester
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Bexley
Sept. 16 -- At Hartley
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Marion Harding
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. New Albany
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 13 -- At Newark
*Sept. 14 -- At Franklin Heights
Sept. 16 -- Pickerington North Invitational