Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenly weren't sure what to expect when their freshman season on the Olentangy Liberty High School girls tennis team began, but it eventually became apparent to both that teaming up for the postseason might be the way to go.
Their hunch was rewarded with a postseason full of memories, including on the state's biggest stage.
On Oct. 20 and 21 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, the pair completed a perfect run through the postseason when they won 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) over Cincinnati Ursuline's Nina Dhaliwal and Gabrielle O'Connor for the Division I state doubles title.
Atway played first singles and Schoenly was at second singles for most of the regular season.
"There was always the idea (that we'd team up in the postseason) but it never really came together until the end of the season," Atway said. "Especially playing with Dani, this is pretty cool."
Atway and Schoenly opened state with their tightest match of the postseason, a 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Mason's Sanjana Reddy and Nicole Reid, and followed with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Green sisters Anne and Maria Zivick, who were the 2016 state runners-up.
On Oct. 21, Atway and Schoenly easily advanced to the final with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rocky River Magnificat's Alexandra Vesikallio and Olivia Rondini.
Coach Will Thieman said the duo "never backed down."
"We knew we could do it and just had to stay positive (and) focus on our game," Schoenly said. "I feel like we complement each other. We knew we had to adapt to any situation that we had."
Also competing at state in doubles were seniors Cellini Ko and Lexi Steer, who lost to Vesikallio and Rondini 6-2, 6-0 in a first-round match. Steer played third singles much of the season and Ko played mostly doubles.
Atway and Schoenly beat Ko and Steer 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 for a sectional title Oct. 7 at Upper Arlington and UA's Noah Mizer and Ella Hazelbaker 6-0, 6-2 to win district Oct. 14 at UA.
Competing in the postseason in singles were junior Ellie MacDowell, who was the sectional runner-up, junior Lexie Brengartner, who took third at sectional, and junior Anna Gardner, who lost in the first round at sectional.
At district in singles, MacDowell and Brengartner both lost in the first round.
Liberty went 15-5 overall and won the OCC-Buckeye Division at 5-0, ahead of Orange (4-1), Olentangy (3-2), Westerville Central (2-3), Westerville North (1-4) and Westerville South (0-5).
In the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament, the Patriots lost 3-1 to Dublin Jerome on Oct. 10 in a district final.
Boys golfers finish as state runner-up
The addition of a strong freshman combined with the leadership of a strong senior duo helped the boys golf team put together its greatest season.
In addition to making state for the fourth time in five seasons, the Patriots shot back-to-back rounds of 308 for a two-day total of 616 that gave them the runner-up trophy in the Division I state tournament Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Jerome won the title with a 607 but had a 13-stroke lead after the opening round that the Patriots cut to four before closing it out.
Senior Trey Rath made first-team all-state and shared runner-up honors with Jerome's Blake Solomon, as both shot 147 to finish behind Green's Maxwell Moldovan (144). Senior Cole Corder tied for 15th (154) and freshman Grant Smeltzer tied for 17th (156).
"At the beginning of the season, I wouldn't have projected this," coach Ryan Snivley said. "We had a freshman that was solid and (completed) our top five."
Also competing at state were senior Jacob Hickman (tied for 27th, 160) and junior Josh Steyer (tied for 39th, 166).
Rath and Hickman both competed in 2015 when Liberty finished sixth, and Rath also was in the lineup in 2014 when the Patriots were sixth.
"I got second-team (all-state) my sophomore year so this feels good," said Rath, who has committed to Xavier. "I'm a little disappointed in my finish because I went bogey and (double-bogey) and I lost (to Moldovan) by three (strokes), but it's all right."
Liberty went 20-0 to win the OCC-Buckeye ahead of Olentangy (14-6), Central (12-9), Orange (10-10), North (4-16) and South (0-20).
Corder averaged 72.0 and was league Player of the Year, and Rath (74.5) and Smeltzer (75.5) also made first-team all-league. Hickman (78.0) was second-team all-league and Steyer (79.8) was honorable mention.
Liberty shot 304 to win the sectional Oct. 3 at Turnberry. It followed with a 307 at district Oct. 10 at Apple Valley to take second behind Jerome (294) as Rath tied Central Crossing's Caleb Davern for first with a 71 and beat Davern in a playoff to earn medalist honors.
Boys, girls runners earn district titles
Coming off Division I district championships, the boys and girls cross country teams will try to make it to state from the regional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advance.
On Oct. 21 in the girls district 1 meet at Watkins Memorial, Gracie Sprankle won in 17 minutes, 36.81 seconds, followed by Emma Bower (second, 17:58.06), Linnea Kunesh (ninth, 19:13.42), Audrey Piero (13th, 19:30.35), Lauren Woodruff (17th, 19:34.51), Addison French (21st, 19:57.02) and Sarah Colvin (33rd, 21:01.38).
Liberty topped the 11-team field with 42 points, and the boys scored 49 points to win the 16-team district 3 title.
Joseph Johnson III was sixth (16:04.24) to lead the boys, followed by Logan Boone (eighth, 16:17), Nick Irelan (10th, 16:19.01), Nicholas Anderson (12th, 16:24.04), Jack Humenay (13th, 16:26.96), Adam Clark (27th, 16:49.91) and Bradley Raymond (37th, 17:01.9).
Soccer teams reach district semis
The boys and girls soccer teams played in Division I district semifinals this week.
On Oct. 25, the top-seeded boys team played 19th-seeded Orange at home, with the winner to meet sixth-seeded Westerville South or 15th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a site to be announced.
The district champion plays Jerome, Hilliard Bradley, Pickerington North or Olentangy in a regional semifinal at a date and site to be announced.
With a 5-0 win over 40th-seeded Whetstone on Oct. 21 in the second round, the Patriots improved to 13-1-2.
Of the opponents Liberty could face in a district final or regional semifinal, it edged South 2-1 on Sept. 19, tied Jerome at 1 on Sept. 21 and beat Olentangy 3-0 on Oct. 10.
The eighth-seeded girls team played Oct. 24 at fifth-seeded Bradley, and the winner plays second-seeded Dublin Coffman or ninth-seeded Orange in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a site to be announced.
The district champion plays Gahanna, Watterson, Hilliard Darby or New Albany in a regional semifinal at a date and site to be announced.
Although the Patriots lost to Olentangy 3-0 on Oct. 10, they had won six of seven before playing Bradley.
Of the teams Liberty could face in a district final or regional semifinal, it lost to Gahanna and Orange by 2-1 scores Sept. 5 and Sept. 12, respectively, and beat Darby 2-0 on Oct. 5.
Field hockey team wins tourney opener
The fourth-seeded field hockey team began the district tournament with an 11-0 win over 16th-seeded Dublin Scioto on Oct. 18 as Haley Eckhert had three goals and Addie Druckenbroad scored two.
The Patriots improved to 14-3 and advanced to a district semifinal Oct. 24 at home against sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne.
If Liberty won that game, it will play second-seeded Columbus Academy or seventh-seeded Upper Arlington in a district final at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at home.
The district champion will play Hudson, Shaker Heights, Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown or Rocky River Magnificat in a state semifinal Nov. 3 at UA.
The Patriots lost to Academy 6-1 on Sept. 14 and beat UA 2-1 on Aug. 30.
Volleyball team to face Pacers
The second-seeded girls volleyball team plays 13th-seeded Delaware in a Division I district semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at Whitehall.
The winner plays seventh-seeded Gahanna or 10th-seeded Watterson in a district final at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Whitehall.
The district champion will meet DeSales, Westerville Central, Olentangy or Kilbourne in a regional semifinal Nov. 2 at Kilbourne.
Liberty is 22-1. It opened the postseason Oct. 19 with a 25-12, 25-9, 26-24 win over 36th-seeded Mount Vernon.