The New Albany High School girls golf team did not simply win its first three tournaments, it won all of them in dominating fashion.
The Eagles shot 293 on Aug. 4 in Toledo Notre Dame Academy's Eagle Invitational at Detwiler Park, topping the 13-team field by 32 shots ahead of runner-up Lima Central Catholic. Two days later, the Eagles shot 295 to win Gahanna's Lady Lion Invitational at Jefferson by 14 shots ahead of runner-up Olentangy Orange, the two-time defending Division I state champion.
Sophomore Madison Spiess, who as a freshman was the program's first state qualifier, shot 69 in Toledo, only to see that score matched Aug. 6 by freshman teammate Anna Ritter, who earned medalist honors.
New Albany then finished first in the first round of the OCC-Central Division tournament Aug. 8 at Royal American by 21 shots, led by senior Morgan Pankow's medalist round of 73.
Still, second-year coach Rich Ritter isn't ready to make any lasting proclamations after those early performances.
"We're definitely off to a good start," he said. "But it's only August, and we have a long way to go."
Pankow, a University of Miami commit, and freshmen Kary Hollenbaugh and Ellie McNutt round out New Albany's powerful top five in that order.
Spiess shot a two-day total of 142 at state last year to finish third of 72 golfers.
"I like where we are, not necessarily in terms of the wins or where we stack up against other teams, but just as far as being on track to get the performances we expect," coach Ritter said. "We have girls in this program who were active all summer at very good events and also play well together. I feel like they're capable of playing how they've played so far, and so do they. I think they can be competitive with anybody, and the fact that we've done that so far is what we expect."
On Aug. 4, Pankow shot a 71, followed by Anna Ritter (76), Hollenbaugh (77) and McNutt (78).
The scoring was similarly balanced at Jefferson, as Pankow and Spiess both shot 75, followed by Hollenbaugh (76) and McNutt (82).
Rounding out the roster are senior Gwynnie Lee and sophomore Nora Bounemany.
"All of them are pretty good at their short games and putting," coach Ritter said. "They're good at keeping the ball in play and getting past any mistakes pretty quickly. They're just out there trying to play their best. They're a fun group to be around."
New Albany hopes to climb up the OCC-Central standings after going 9-11 in the four-round league tournament a year ago, finishing third behind champion Upper Arlington (20-0). The Eagles got off to a good start in the first round, shooting a 301 to finish first ahead of UA (322), Dublin Coffman (329), Hilliard Davidson (390), Marysville (403) and Canal Winchester (406).
The second round was Aug. 15 at Cooks Creek, which will play host to the district tournament for the second consecutive year Oct. 9.
Spiess leads deep boys golf team
The boys golf team began its season Aug. 4 by finishing second (310) of 15 teams in the Thomas Worthington Invitational at Delaware Golf Club behind Wellington (297), and while fourth-year coach Andy Moore said a few bad holes made the difference, he saw the experience and maturity he expects from this group.
"I can see more maturity than I saw out of them last year," Moore said. "They know how to bounce back from a bad hole now and forget about it. They're going in with the right mindset. Last year, that wasn't always the case. That's something that comes with experience."
Senior Logan Spiess shot a 74 on Aug. 4, followed by juniors Jacob Brooks and Caleb Delaney (both 76), junior Jack Curtis (84) and senior Griffin Green (86).
Spiess tied for ninth in the Division I state tournament as a sophomore. He's the only Eagles player to advance to state since New Albany qualified as a team in 2013.
Brooks missed most of last season because of a wrist injury.
"The past few years, I feel like we've benefited a lot from internal competition," Moore said, adding that 25 players tried out this season, up from either 18 or 19 in each of his first three seasons. "We've been trying to build depth, the kind of depth that we have this year. I have nine guys who can score in the 70s, and we have some freshmen coming up who are going to push the juniors."
New Albany got off to a good start in pursuit of its eighth consecutive OCC-Capital title in the first round of the four-round league tournament Aug. 7 at Denison Golf Club, shooting 323 to finish first ahead of Big Walnut (341), Canal Winchester (382) and Newark (397).
The second round was Aug. 13 at Darby Creek.
The Eagles went 20-0 in the league last year, ahead of runner-up Big Walnut (16-4).
Rounding out the roster are senior Parker Thompson, juniors Nathaniel Heuman, Grant Kresina and Andrew Kroeger and sophomores Jayson Beckner and Zach Blaney.
Thompson golfed as a freshman but has mostly concentrated on baseball ever since. A third baseman, he batted .400 with 25 RBI last spring to help New Albany win its first district championship since 2010 and finish as Division I regional runner-up.
Girls tennis team deep, young
Not only does girls tennis coach Marc Thomas think this might be his deepest team in eight seasons at New Albany, but an added bonus is that only two players will graduate this school year.
Seniors Valentina DiLor-enzo and Alexandra Vitellas return from last year's team that went 11-5 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Capital to win its 11th league championship in 12 years, as does junior Thalia Fuentes.
"They're two very good seniors, and it's been rare since I've been here to only have a few seniors," Thomas said. "We're a very deep team. We'll be good on every court. It's a good group that's going to be competitive wherever I put them. They're hard workers and I think that could make us a tough team to beat."
New Albany opens Thursday, Aug. 16, at Gahanna in a match that also will be a first-round tilt in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament. The winner will visit Pickerington North for a second-round match on a date to be determined.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Maya Klein and Helen Wang and two of the girls golf team's top competitors in Hollenbaugh and Spiess, both of whom Thomas said will be in the top seven on his team as well.
"Valentina and Alexandra will lead us, but I'm not exactly sure how the lineup will go after them," Thomas said. "I will be trying some different combinations."
The Eagles' home opener is Tuesday, Aug. 21, against Pickerington Central. New Albany begins OCC-Capital play Aug. 23 at Newark.
New Albany fell short of the Division I state tournament last season for the first time since 2007. DiLorenzo and 2018 graduate Makena Romagnano went 1-1 as a doubles team at district, coming up one win shy of a state berth.
The Eagles graduated their other two district qualifiers in Elizabeth Hancock and Emma Waite, who played doubles.
Aug. 4 -- Thomas Worthington Invitational at Delaware Golf Club
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Capital at Denison Golf Club
Aug. 8 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Rattlesnake Ridge
Aug. 9 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Links
Aug. 11 -- Fairfield Federal Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Darby Creek
Aug. 14 -- Dublin Classic at Golf Club of Dublin
Aug. 18 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Ponds
Aug. 27 -- Centerville Elks Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 29 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry
Sept. 1 -- Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle
Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 10 -- Wooster Invitational at Wooster Country Club
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley
Sept. 15 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club
Sept. 17 -- Lexington at Westbrook
Sept. 29 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Hickory Hills
Aug. 4 -- Eagle Invitational at Detwiler Park
Aug. 6 -- Lady Lion Invitational at Jefferson
Aug. 8 -- OCC-Central at Royal American
Aug. 10 -- Panther Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 15 -- OCC-Central at Cooks Creek
Aug. 18 -- Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines
Aug. 20 -- Centerville Lady Elks Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 22 -- Dublin Coffman and Olentangy Liberty at Muirfield
Aug. 25 -- Bear-Lion Open at Cooks Creek
Aug. 27 -- Lexington Elite Invitational at Westbrook
Aug. 29 -- OCC-Central at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 4 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Country Club
Sept. 6 -- Olentangy Orange at Blackhawk
Sept. 8 -- Eagle-Panther Invitational at Cooks Creek
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Westchester
Sept. 15 -- Louisville (Ky.) Sacred Heart Invitational at Hurstbourne
Sept. 20 -- Lady Bear Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 22 -- Saint Angela Merici Invitational at Maketewah
Sept. 25 -- Dublin Coffman and Lexington at New Albany Country Club
Oct. 6 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at Cooks Creek
Aug. 16 -- at Gahanna in first round of OTCA Division I district tournament
Aug. 21 -- vs. Pickerington Central
*Aug. 23 -- at Newark
Aug. 25 -- Watterson Invitational at Park of Roses
*Aug. 28 -- vs. Big Walnut
*Aug. 30 -- vs. Groveport
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Canal Winchester
*Sept. 6 -- at Franklin Heights
Sept. 11 -- Watterson at Park of Roses
Sept. 12 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 18 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Sept. 26 -- at Dublin Coffman
Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Oct. 2 -- vs. Pickerington North
Oct. 3 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Oct. 9 -- at Olentangy Orange
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 20 -- New Albany Classic
*Aug. 22 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Aug. 21 -- At Westerville North
Aug. 18 -- Marysville Spike-Off Invitational
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Westerville North