First-year Pickerington High School North boys lacrosse coach Tyler Nelson said he couldn't have picked a better landing spot for his first head coaching job, even though the Panthers must replace a combined 119 goals lost to graduation.
"I love the skill I am seeing," said Nelson, a native of Midland, Michigan, who played at Grand Valley State and was Westerville Central's junior varsity coach the past two seasons. "Coming from Westerville, I had an outside view of Pickerington and now I have an inside view. I'm glad to have this opportunity. I think this is a great place to have my first head coaching job. I know we graduated a lot of skill from last year, but we have a lot of talented guys back who can play well together."
North was 1-3 overall before playing Big Walnut on March 27.
Nelson replaces Danny Gibson, who coached the Panthers for three seasons and now is the coach at New Albany. North went 8-11 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Central Division last season, losing to Dublin Coffman 17-4 in a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal.
Senior goalkeeper Hayden Drennen (159 saves, 147 goals allowed in 2017) leads a group of returnees that also includes senior defender/long-stick midfielder Evan Hellmich and sophomore attacker/midfielder Keaton Trout.
The Panthers opened March 16 with an 11-10, double-overtime home win over Bexley. They then lost to Springboro (15-0 on March 17), Westerville Central (10-9 on March 20) and Licking Valley (12-8 on March 23).
Junior midfielder Larry Martin and sophomore attacker Ethan Kevelder each had six goals through the first four games. Hellmich, Trout and junior attackers Bryce Coleman and Pace Warner each had four goals.
Last season, North got 71 goals and 34 assists from 2017 graduate Landon Trout and 48 goals and 21 assists from 2017 graduate Bryce Keaton.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Jacob Bordner (midfielder), Alexander Bowe (defender) and Peyton Craig (midfielder), juniors Jimmy McBride (midfielder), Hunter Parrish (midfielder) and Carson White (defender), sophomores Nate Bosworth (defender), Jaden Bussom (defender), Robert Carpenter (midfielder), Drew Conkel (midfielder), A.J. Dinsmore (midfielder), Chandler Huguley (midfielder), Juan Limon (midfielder), Quinn Parlette (defender), Trevor Rogers (defender/long-stick midfielder) and Adam Smathers (defender) and freshmen Reid Bender (defender), Tyler Brunelle (attacker/midfielder), Owen Burke (defender), David Carte (midfielder), Justin Cook (attacker/midfielder), Jacob Guentter (midfielder), Ryan Mack (midfielder), Steven McElroy (midfielder), Lucas Schneider (attacker), Kalib Severt (attacker/midfielder), Connor Shook (attacker/midfielder), Joshua Smith (goalie) and Gordon Stewart (midfielder).
North begins OCC-Central play April 5 at Gahanna. The Panthers finished fourth in the league last season behind co-champions Coffman, Hilliard Davidson and Upper Arlington (all 6-1).
"Hopefully, we can beat the Upper Arlingtons and Dublin Coffmans by playing as a team," Nelson said. "We'll have a blue-collar mentality. My goal is to have teams start to worry about us."
Key girls lacrosse players return
With most of last year's key players back and despite two losses to open the season, second-year girls lacrosse coach Christine Miller thinks this year could be considerably better than last season, when North finished 4-13 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Central.
"We feel that we are farther along in our development as a team this year and that we are excited to start the season," Miller said. "We have many returning players that bring leadership and experience to our team. We have a great group of girls that are excited to play lacrosse and that are willing to work hard to be successful. We are excited about the potential of this season and all that we can accomplish."
North was 0-2 overall before playing Hilliard Bradley on March 28. The Panthers opened with a 10-3 loss at Olentangy Orange on March 20 and lost 10-4 at Watterson two nights later.
Senior midfielder Shannon Dornfeld, junior attacker/midfielder Sophie Zimmerman and sophomore attacker/midfielder Elise Drager each scored against Orange and freshman goalie Erin Boder made 16 saves.
Other prominent returnees include seniors Giovanna Chiudioni (attacker), Maddy Radanof (defender/midfielder), Sydnee Saksa (attacker) and Abbey Wilson (attacker) and juniors Lexie Johnson (attacker) and Abbey Wilmer (defender).
Radanof is a Capital recruit, Saksa will play at Lincoln Memorial and Wilson is an Indiana Tech recruit.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Kallista Douangsy (midfielder), Alex Hartman (defender) and Layali Malkieh (defender), juniors Olivia Davis (attacker), Rylee Jarvis (defender/midfielder), Sarah Pinkerton (defender) and Mackenzie Rogers (attacker/midfielder), sophomores Brooke Badgett (defender), Briana Cavendish (attacker), Jenevieve Folson (defender), Danielle Hassel (attacker), Jessica Howell (defender/midfielder), Sonya Jerrome (attacker/goalie), Kiley Johnson (attacker), Emma Perry (attacker/midfielder), Brennan Santa (midfielder), Ava Thompson (attacker), Mariel Wilkerson (defender) and Paige Wilson (attacker/midfielder) and freshmen Brianne Barnes (defender), Emma Boder (attacker), Emilee Casimir (defender) and Sydney Hopkins (midfielder).
North's home opener is Tuesday, April 3, against Bexley. The Panthers begin OCC-Central play April 5 at home against Gahanna.
"We need to continue to improve our fundamentals and build our chemistry on the field," Miller said.
"We also need to continue to improve our skills under pressure and in specific situations such as during transitions or when we are down. We are working to improve our ball movement and spacing on the field. Teamwork is very important in this game and we are building our chemistry so that the girls are able to work together and trust each other."
Sawyer announces college decision
Senior Kyla Sawyer recently signed to play women's basketball at St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
Sawyer, a forward, averaged 12.8 points this past season for the girls basketball team, which finished 10-13 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Ohio. She made a program-record 10 3-pointers and scored a career-high 34 points in an 86-48 win at Westland on Dec. 19.
March 16 -- vs. Bexley
March 17 -- at Springboro
March 20 -- at Westerville Central
March 23 -- at Licking Valley
March 27 -- vs. Big Walnut
March 29 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 5 -- at Gahanna
April 7 -- at Westerville North
*April 10 -- vs. Newark
*April 12 -- at Upper Arlington
April 14 -- at Columbus Academy
*April 17 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*April 24 -- vs. Marysville
*April 26 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
May 1 -- vs. St. Charles
*May 4 -- at Pickerington Central
May 12 -- at Granville
March 20 -- at Olentangy Orange
March 22 -- at Watterson
March 28 -- at Hilliard Bradley
March 29 -- at Centennial
April 3 -- vs. Bexley
*April 5 -- vs. Gahanna
*April 7 -- at Marysville
*April 12 -- vs. Upper Arlington
*April 17 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 21 -- at Beavercreek
April 23 -- at Westerville Central
*April 26 -- at Dublin Coffman
May 1 -- vs. Wellington
*May 4 -- at Pickerington Central
May 8 -- vs. Granville
May 11 -- vs. Westerville North
Below are the coming schedules for the North baseball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 29 -- Morgantown (W. Va.) at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
*April 2 -- At Pickerington Central
*April 4 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
April 3 -- At Dublin Coffman
April 4 -- Home vs. New Albany
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson
April 3 -- Cruiser Invitational at Groveport
*April 3 -- At Gahanna