Late developments seem to be paying off for the DeSales High School girls tennis team this season.
Megan Husslein wasn't sure whether she would be playing singles and doubles this fall, nor was coach Tom Snyder about a week before the team's first match. But the junior's poise helped her win the first singles spot, at which she was 12-1 entering the week.
"I figured I would try it. I was pretty nervous at first, but once I got into it, I actually really enjoyed it," Husslein said. "I put pressure on myself. There's no one else to blame if you do something wrong. I kind of like that."
Perhaps the highlight of the Stallions' young season came in a tournament in which they were not originally scheduled to compete. An Aug. 16 doubleheader at Wilmington that also included Clarksville Clinton-Massie was rained out, and the Wilmington coaches invited the Stallions back down for the Hurricane Invitational on Aug. 25.
DeSales made that second trip to southwest Ohio worthwhile, as Husslein won first singles, Molly Ballard and Elaina Murray won first doubles and Miranda Draminski and Aubrey Wilcox were first at second doubles to give the Stallions the team championship.
Cate Leithauser was second at third singles and Izzy Arbona placed third at second singles.
The finals were held Aug. 26, postponed from the previous day because of bad weather.
"Early on, we were getting our footing and we had nerves starting a new season even though we were experienced," Snyder said. "We're starting to settle into a groove and solidify our doubles teams. That came to fruition in Wilmington. We had an awesome day of tennis. You could the girls meant business. We played very well."
DeSales was 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the CCL before playing Hartley on Sept. 4. The Stallions cruised in their league opener, defeating Ready 5-0 on Aug. 28 at Westgate Park.
Arbona has moved up from playing mostly doubles the past two years, while Leithauser is at third singles for the second season in a row.
"Nobody's spot is secure. We have constant changeups every match. It makes practices more fun and more competitive," Arbona said, citing that the program has 27 players this season, five more than last year. "That's a huge benefit because it just makes us stronger. It's still very competitive. That does a lot for our team chemistry, too."
Ballard, a freshman, and Murray, a junior, are new to varsity. They have made the doubles courts even deeper with seniors Allison Goetz and Erin Miller also vying for time.
"We still have some good players who aren't even in our top seven. We've had a fair amount of challenge matches," Snyder said. "Allison and Erin have gotten a lot of strokes in. They are right there on the edge. They will get more starts in doubles."
DeSales has its sights set on improving on last year's third-place finish in the CCL. The Stallions will play last year's runner-up, Watterson, on Sept. 13 and defending champion Columbus School for Girls in their final CCL match Sept. 25.
"We just want to be better than last year and continue to build the program," Leithauser said. "We want to keep winning."
Cross country teams seek new lead runners
The boys and girls cross country teams both find themselves reloading to some extent, as the boys lost a Division II state qualifier and the girls lost two of their top four runners from last year's CCL championship squad to graduation.
Junior Ben Towler, who was the boys team's top finisher in eight events last year and finished 97th of 180 individuals at state, transferred to Gahanna. But several other runners are back, including seniors Ian McCandlish and Jonathan Pusateri and juniors Nico Cadena and John Shoemaker.
The girls team lost Cammy Bury and Abi DeBrosse to graduation. They had been in the team's top seven each of the past four seasons, and Bury finished 54th in the Division I regional meet last year.
DeSales opened Aug. 25 at the Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion.
The boys scored 282 points and finished ninth of 21 teams behind champion Heath (53), and the girls were eighth (254) of 19 teams behind champion Fairfield Union (53).
Shoemaker finished 15th (17 minutes, 42.7 seconds) to lead the boys, followed by McCandlish (31st, 18:17.6), Pusateri (69th, 19:21.5), Cadena (84th, 19:44) and sophomore Isaiah Rush (114th, 20:31.3).
Junior Anya Vanasdale led the girls with a 28th-place finish (22:33.1), followed by sophomores Bre Callahan (40th, 22:59) and Gracey Wilson (56th, 23:41.7), senior Stephanie Suh (69th, 24:00.2) and sophomore Hannah Pekarcik (74th, 24:14.4).
Other expected contributors for the boys include sophomores Isaac Rush and Nick Schetter. The girls roster also includes freshmen Audrey Callahan and Monica Sullivan.
The girls scored 37 points at last year's CCL meet to edge runner-up Hartley (45) for the championship. The boys were third (78) in the league meet behind St. Charles (24) and Watterson (54).
Both teams are guided by fourth-year coach Ben McGinnis.
Girls golfers halfway to MOGGL title
The girls golf team enters the final two rounds of the Mid-Ohio Girls Golf League tournament halfway to its first league championship.
DeSales won both of the first two rounds, shooting a 388 on Aug. 6 at Champions to finish 17 shots ahead of second-place Columbus School for Girls and a 373 in the second round Aug. 13 at Champions, 10 shots ahead of second-place CSG.
The Stallions are 9-0 in the MOGGL entering the third round Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Village View. The Unicorns are second at 5-4.
The final round is Sept. 18 at Village View.
DeSales also has an opportunity to capture the first CCL championship. The Stallions shot a 366 in the first round of that league's inaugural tournament Aug. 15 at NorthStar, ahead of CSG and Watterson (both 382).
The final round of the CCL tournament will be Oct. 6 at NorthStar, the final weekend of the regular season.
Aug. 25 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Sept. 1 -- Martins Ferry Invitational
Sept. 8 -- Pat Ritchie Invitational at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
Sept. 15 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 22 -- Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central
Sept. 29 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 13 -- CCL meet at Otterbein
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 8 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 10 -- Canal Winchester at Westchester
Sept. 11 -- Big Walnut at Champions
Sept. 10 -- Watterson at Champions
Sept. 11 -- MOGGL at Village View
Sept. 12 -- Columbus School for Girls at NorthStar
Sept. 6 -- At Marysville
Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Richfield Revere
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Ready
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 10 -- At Worthington Christian
Sept. 12 -- At Westerville North
*Sept. 6 -- At Hartley
*Sept. 11 -- At Watterson