The Division I state tournament is anything but old hat to Olentangy High School girls tennis player Kathleen Jones.
The senior will play at state for the second time Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, but this trip will bear little resemblance to the other for Jones.
Three years ago, Jones and 2016 graduate Bri Brdicka finished third at district and advanced to state as a doubles team, going 1-1 in a tournament that then was played at Ohio State. That same pairing fell one win short of state the next year, and Jones went 0-1 at district as a singles player last year while recovering from a broken left thumb.
She left no room for error in this year's district tournament Oct. 12 at Hilliard Bradley, defeating Lancaster's Hope Rooker 6-1, 6-0 and Dublin Jerome's Jaiqui Liu 6-1, 6-1 to clinch her state berth. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state.
"It feels really good because my sophomore year, we had a big letdown. We were close to beating (Upper Arlington's) Paige and Olivia Kompa (6-2, 3-6, 7-6 in a state-qualifying match) and that was a sad loss," Jones said. "It was a lot of fun going with Bri because I feed off a team energy kind of thing. I like having someone out there to pump me up, but I think it's going to be nice to say I did this (on my own). There's a difference in that aspect."
Jones, who was Olentangy's only district qualifier, finished fourth in the tournament, which concluded Oct. 14 at UA. She went 2-2 and lost to Watterson's Claire Ghidotti 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the third-place match.
"When she found her groove, she played amazing," coach Jeff Luxenburger said. "She played cleanly, hitting the ball well and playing to her strengths. She has an amazing net game and plays with some power. The biggest thing she's improved on is her patience and mental game. She's always had the weapons; she's always been one of the biggest hitters I've ever seen, but this is the year that her mental game has caught up to her physical game for sure."
Jones overcame some adversity Oct. 12, however. The trip to Bradley, which she said usually takes about 45 minutes, lasted almost two hours because of road construction and traffic.
"Everybody else had a warm-up and I was hoping my first match went well and I could use that as a warm-up, which I did," Jones said. "(Against Liu), I was hitting everything I wanted to and I played pretty well."
Brookshire leads runners in league meet
Lex Brookshire of the girls cross country team finished ninth (19 minutes, 38.53 seconds) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Oct. 14 at Hilliard Darby, leading the Braves to third place.
Olentangy scored 62 points to finish behind Liberty (36) and Orange (56) and ahead of Westerville Central (83), Westerville North (134) and Westerville South (174).
Also scoring for the Braves were Melina Endsley (11th, 19:58.67), Kaite Balthaser (12th, 20:02.31), Katie Slyh (13th, 20:09.8) and Meghan Boggess (17th, 20:36.45).
The boys were fourth (103) behind Liberty (31), Orange (46) and South (84) and ahead of Central (115) and North (172).
Scoring for Olentangy were Sam Holt (17th, 17:36.37), Carter Schaefer (21st, 17:43.06), Chandler Moyer (24th, 17:45.96), Cullen Sainey (26th, 17:50.61) and Afton Freeman (27th, 17:55.97).
Both teams will run in the Division I, district 3 meet Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watkins Memorial. The top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional Oct. 28 at Pickerington North.
Field hockey team plays Eagles
Seeded eighth for the 17-team district tournament, the field hockey team played host to 12th-seeded New Albany in a second-round game Oct. 17.
Olentangy was 9-6-1 entering the game. The Braves finished the regular season with a 4-3 overtime loss at Bexley on Oct. 11 in which Emma Brown scored her program-record 16th and 17th goals of the season.
Brown and 2017 graduate Allison Martin set the previous record of 15 last year.
The Olentangy-New Albany winner will visit top-seeded and defending state champion Thomas Worthington or 17th-seeded Lancaster for a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 24. That winner will advance to a district final Oct. 28.
The Eagles defeated Lancaster 5-0 on Sept. 23.
Volleyball team set for tourney
The girls volleyball team is seeded eighth for the Division I district tournament, and coach Sarah Wilson likes the makeup of her veteran squad but sees room for growth as it seeks its second district final appearance in three years.
Olentangy is 14-8 overall and finished OCC-Buckeye play at 6-4, losing to Liberty 25-14, 21-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-5 on Oct. 10.
"We need to really focus on a tougher mindset that handles adversity more effectively and promotes unity and trust as a team," Wilson said. "We also plan to implement some changes both offensively and defensively that will help us on our journey through tournament play. ...
"It will be important to play and focus on one match, one set, one point at a time and our veterans understand that. All of our girls have been in tough, must-win matches at some point in their high school or club careers, and they know what has worked and what hasn't."
All of Olentangy's losses in OCC-Buckeye play were to league co-champions Orange and Liberty.
The Braves took a first-round bye in the 50-team district tournament and will play host to 34th-seeded Marysville or 40th-seeded Columbus West in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19.
The winner will play sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, 14th-seeded Canal Winchester, 16th-seeded Grove City or 46th-seeded Central Crossing in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Franklin Heights.
That winner advances to a district final Oct. 28.
Of those teams, the Braves defeated Marysville 25-19, 25-14, 25-19 on Sept. 21.
Boys soccer team suffers rare losses
After losing just one of its first 14 games, the boys soccer team dropped two games last week, 3-0 to Liberty on Oct. 10 and 1-0 to Big Walnut on Oct. 12.
Olentangy finished the regular season at 8-3-5 overall and 1-1-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Seeded eighth for the 47-team Division I district tournament, Olentangy played host to 45th-seeded Marion Harding in a first-round game Oct. 18.
The winner will play host to 46th-seeded Whitehall in a second-round game Saturday, Oct. 21. That winner will play ninth-seeded Pickerington North, 20th-seeded UA or 29th-seeded Westland in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the better-seeded team's home field, and the semifinal winner will advance to a district final Oct. 28.
Olentangy is seeking its first district final berth since 2002, when the program won its most recent district title.
Girls soccer team shuts out Patriots
The girls soccer team finished the regular season Oct. 10 with its seventh shutout of the year, defeating Liberty 3-0 to improve to 9-4-3 overall and 2-1-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Kylee Beinecke, Natalie Hegg and Sydney Walker scored and McKinley Hoffman made four saves.
Seeded sixth for the 42-team Division I district tournament, Olentangy plays host to 36th-seeded Logan in a second-round game Thursday, Oct. 19. The Braves are seeking their third district championship in four years.
The second-round winner will play 18th-seeded Westerville North or 38th-seeded Mount Vernon in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 24, on the better-seeded team's home field. That winner will advance to a district final Oct. 28.
Of those teams, Olentangy edged North 1-0 on Sept. 19 in OCC-Buckeye play.
Wilson represents boys golfers at district
Considering Trey Wilson of the boys golf team played the season's final two tournaments with an unfamiliar set of clubs, coach Joel Glassburn was pleased with how the senior acquitted himself.
Wilson had his clubs stolen a few days before a Division I sectional tournament Oct. 3 at Darby Creek. He still managed to shoot a 77 and qualify for district Oct. 10 at Apple Valley, where he shot an 84 and tied four other golfers for 46th place out of 71 individuals.
"That's a big thing to overcome," Glassburn said. "His yardage was off a bit, but I think he definitely played better than his score (at district). He did miss some fairways, which led to him missing some greens. I'm proud of how he handled himself."
A veteran lineup that also included senior Luke Boerner, junior Cam Casto and sophomore Bennett Zeitner finished 14-6 in the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament, second behind Liberty (20-0) and ahead of Central (12-8), Orange (10-10), North (4-16) and South (0-20).
Olentangy narrowly missed making district as a team, as it shot 320 at sectional to tie Pickerington North for fourth but lost the tiebreaker based on fifth-player score.
Boerner and Wilson will be the Braves' only losses to graduation.
According to Glassburn, freshman Bryce Reed will play at Berlin when it opens next fall.
Junior Garrett Leckrone and sophomore Tanner Shimp, who saw some varsity time last year but were not in the top five most of this season, are among the team's other expected returnees.