The Big Walnut High School boys tennis team had one of its winningest seasons a year ago, and the return of all but one starter has eighth-year coach Mike McDonough looking for a repeat performance.

The Big Walnut High School boys tennis team had one of its winningest seasons a year ago, and the return of all but one starter has eighth-year coach Mike McDonough looking for a repeat performance.

"I definitely do (have high expectations) and I think the kids know we're going to be a pretty good team," said McDonough, whose team opens Monday, April 2, at Jonathan Alder. "Our goals haven't really changed. We're going to try to match what we did last year (in wins). We have our sights set on that.

"We have a really talented group and it's a lot of fun to work with them."

The Golden Eagles finished 15-4 overall last season, tying the program record for victories that was set in 2007 when the team finished 15-3.

Big Walnut lost its second-singles player in Sam Lawless to graduation but returns seniors Sam Baldauf, Nate Fagan, Russell McMurry, Nathan Randall, Dan Violet and Cory Walters, juniors Jeff Tribble and Sean Tribble and sophomores Logan Adams and Adam Freeberg.

The Eagles' lineup last season usually included Randall at first singles, Violet at third singles, McMurry and Sean Tribble at first doubles and Baldauf, Fagan, Jeff Tribble and Walters rotating at second doubles.

This season, McDonough expects to have Randall at first singles, Violet at second singles and McMurry at third singles, with Adams, Baldauf, Fagan, the Tribble twins and Walters competing for playing time at doubles.

Others who could see varsity action are seniors Tyler Burks and Zach Flynn, junior Thomas Hamann, sophomores Grant Burks, Cole Davis, Garrett Jackson and Andrew Nussbaum and freshman Isaiah Kolb.

Last season, Lawless and Randall qualified for the Division I district tournament at Hilliard Davidson, where they lost in the first round to New Albany's John Hendrix and Oliver Sybert 6-2, 6-0.

Lawless and Randall had advanced to district by placing third in the sectional tournament at Davidson. They went 4-1 at sectional, beating Worthington Kilbourne's Sam Lazaroff and Roger Juang 6-1, 6-1 in the consolation final.

"(Lawless) is a big loss," McDonough said. "It won't be easy to fill his shoes."

Big Walnut went 5-2 in the OCC-Capital Division last season and finished the league tournament with 39 points to place third, behind New Albany (76) and Olentangy Orange (52) and ahead of Delaware Hayes (31), Hilliard Bradley (24), Watkins Memorial (22), Franklin Heights (7) and Mount Vernon (6).

The Eagles begin league play Tuesday, April 3, at home against Orange and travel to Watkins Memorial on Wednesday, April 4. Their league losses last season came against New Albany (5-0) and Orange (4-1).

"(New Albany is) just so good," McDonough said. "I don't think anyone (in the OCC-Capital) is really close to them. They've got to be the favorite. We'll try to compete with them, but we're probably playing for second."

•Based on what he saw from his team during the indoor season this winter, 18th-year girls track and field coach Joe Evener has high expectations this spring.

Big Walnut won its second consecutive Division I indoor district championship, scoring 91 points March 10 at Otterbein University to finish well ahead of runner-up Hilliard Darby (51) as 20 teams scored.

Then in the indoor state meet March 17 at the University of Akron, the Eagles scored 21 points to tie Austintown-Fitch and Cincinnati McAuley for fourth behind Solon (58), Medina (38) and Shaker Heights (26) as 62 teams scored.

"After the indoor season that we had, our team expectations are sky high right now," said Evener, whose team opened March 31 in the Newark Invitational. "There are not too many places we can go and not be in the hunt (for the meet title). We have scoring potential in every event. I feel really good about where we are as a team."

Sophomore Olivia Small won the indoor state title in the long jump in a program-record 18 feet, 1/4 inch. She also finished third in the triple jump (34-2 1/4) while junior Leah Thomas placed sixth in the 60 meters (7.86 seconds) and seventh in the triple jump (31-8 1/2). Also competing was the 1,600 relay of seniors Liz Carty and Brea Medlock, junior Asia Medlock and sophomore Jamie Annis (program-record 4:09.17, 12th).

Last spring, Small was the team's lone Division I state qualifier, tying for ninth in the long jump (17-1 1/2). Hampered by a pulled left hamstring, she had to withdraw from the final. She had suffered the injury while competing in the 400 relay in the regional meet a week earlier at Pickerington North.

Despite the injury, Small jumped a then-personal-record 17-8 1/2 at regional to place second and qualify for state. The distance set the program's freshman record, eclipsing the previous mark of 17-4 3/4 set by Amy Winter in 1999.

"She's a terrific athlete," Evener said of Small. "The sky's the limit for her this year."

Big Walnut returns eight regional qualifiers in Small (sprints/long jump/high jump), Thomas (sprints/long jump), Annis (sprints), Carty (sprints), Brea Medlock (sprints), senior Callie Carioti (sprints), junior Bethany Bogantz (middle distance) and sophomore Catie Craig-Bowden (middle distance/distance).

At regional last year, Brea Medlock placed eighth in the 400 (1:01.66), Thomas finished ninth in the 100 (13.11), the 1,600 relay of Brea Medlock, Annis, Carty and 2011 graduate Julia Evans was ninth (4:07.93), the 3,200 relay of Bogantz, 2011 graduates Brittney Bogantz and Lincoln Green and Craig-Bowden was ninth (9:55.78), Bethany Bogantz was 10th in the 800 (2:23.58), the 400 relay of Evans, Carioti, Small and Thomas was 10th (50.4) and the 800 relay of Small, Carioti, Annis and Brea Medlock was 11th (1:46.84).

The top four finishers in each event advanced to the state meet at Ohio State.

Among the other returnees are Asia Medlock (sprints/middle distance), seniors Shelby Bradford (hurdles), Brittany Evans (distance) and Krystina Stacy (pole vault), juniors Olivia Beckett (throws), Laylaa Crawford (throws), Jordan Lyle (pole vault) and Gabi Smith (long jump/high jump) and sophomore Amber Shaheen (hurdles).

Others looking to contribute include senior Emily Asher (distance) and freshmen Makenna Hemming (middle distance/distance), Avery Kerns (high jump) and Mikaela Smith (middle distance).

Big Walnut did not score at state last year but finished 23rd (9) at regional behind champion Reynoldsburg (88) as 40 teams scored and placed second (79) in the 14-team district 1 meet at Bradley behind Dublin Coffman (152).

Also last season, the Eagles placed second (119) in the OCC-Capital meet behind Watkins Memorial (152.5) and ahead of New Albany (86), Bradley (85), Mount Vernon (64), Franklin Heights (63.5), Orange (59) and Delaware (27).

"That was our highest finish since (winning the OCC-Capital title in) 2004," Evener said. "You can't count out Watkins (Memorial) and New Albany and even Bradley. Which team wins will depend on how the points fall and who steps up that day."

Big Walnut competes against Westerville Central in a dual meet on Tuesday, April 3, at home before playing host to the Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays on Saturday, April 7. The Golden Eagle Relays features 10 boys teams and nine girls teams.

"Our home meet is our pride and joy," Evener said. "We've won it three years in a row and would like to make it four."

Among the schools participating are Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Orange, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.

•The boys track and field team lost both of its Division I state qualifiers from last season to graduation but returns three regional qualifiers in senior Drew Harmon and juniors Grant Corven and Gabe Kitchen.

Harmon (sprints/high jump), Corven (sprints/high jump) and Kitchen (sprints) teamed with 2011 graduate Kenny Brown to finish ninth in the regional meet at Pickerington North in the 800 relay (1:31.75).

Also back are seniors Josh Annis (middle distance), Casey Corzatt (hurdles), Trent Fielding (throws), Lucas Garcia (sprints), Joey Johnson (sprints/long jump), Keith McBride (hurdles) and Jordan Stimmel (pole vault), juniors Cameron Ahmed (distance), A.J. Barber (distance), Anthony Roberto (pole vault) and Brandyn Wright (sprints/long jump) and sophomore Logan Perry (middle distance/distance).

Others looking to contribute include seniors Connor Moran (distance) and Nate Seawell (sprints) and junior Kevin Rankin (hurdles/high jump).

"We've got a lot of guys back who would've been top guns last year, but because of our (nine-member) senior class last year, they didn't get an opportunity to compete in many meets," said fifth-year coach Eric Myers, whose team opens Tuesday, April 3, with a home dual meet against Westerville Central before competing in the Golden Eagle Relays on Saturday, April 7. "A lot of our guys have experience, but it's limited experience, so we have a lot of question marks. It's a matter of them stepping up."

At state last year, Luke Atkeson placed eighth in the 110 hurdles (14.83) and Tyler Fifer finished 12th in the high jump (6-2). Fifer, who had cleared a personal-best 6-10 earlier in the season, was hindered by two torn ligaments in his left ankle. He had sustained the injury in the days leading up to regional, where he placed second in 6-4.

Atkeson qualified for state by placing third at regional in the 110 hurdles (14.86).

Also competing at regional last year were Fifer in the long jump (21-6 3/4, sixth), 2011 graduate Nolan Leber in the 800 (1:55.62, sixth) and 2011 graduate Jacob Walaszek in the discus (138-8, eighth) and shot put (45-1, 10th).

Big Walnut scored one point at state to tie five other teams for 72nd behind champion Cincinnati LaSalle (36) as 78 teams scored.

The Eagles tied Pickerington Central and St. Charles for 15th (21) at regional behind co-champions Thomas Worthington (37) and Westerville North (37) as 39 teams scored. They placed third (82.5) in the 16-team district 3 meet at Bradley behind Coffman (116.5) and Bradley (99.33).

Also last season, Big Walnut finished third (103) in the OCC-Capital meet behind Watkins Memorial (156) and New Albany (155) and ahead of Bradley (82), Orange (60), Franklin Heights (41), Mount Vernon (36) and Delaware (27).

"Going into a season you like to think you can compete for a league championship," Myers said. "With the strength of Watkins (Memorial) and New Albany, our goal should be to finish in the top three.

"I think it will be an interesting season. We have some talented athletes and I think we're pretty balanced all the way through (the lineup)."