When it came to how to handle the pressure of competing for a conference championship, Gahanna Lincoln High School girls golf coach Patty McQuirt could be seen doing just about anything she could -- from wearing funny hats to dressing up as Waldo -- to keep her intense team loose.

When it came to how to handle the pressure of competing for a conference championship, Gahanna Lincoln High School girls golf coach Patty McQuirt could be seen doing just about anything she could -- from wearing funny hats to dressing up as Waldo -- to keep her intense team loose.

On the flip side of mental preparation, Marysville coach Sue Wyman almost had to convince her team of the importance of winning a league title for her program.

Both techniques worked, as the programs captured OCC titles for the first time.

The Lions won the OCC-Ohio Division and the Monarchs were first in the OCC-Capital. Dublin Jerome secured its fourth league title in five years by winning the OCC-Cardinal.

That trio will be among the respective favorites to advance from Division I sectional tournaments that will be held Tuesday at three sites, with the top three teams and top three individuals from each sectional advancing to the district tournament Oct. 13 at Bent Tree.

Marysville had the tightest competition in winning its conference.

After finishing second behind Dublin Coffman in the first round of league play, the Shamrocks didn't have their No. 3 player, junior Sarah McQuade, for the next two rounds.

The Monarchs won both of those rounds, and although McQuade was back Sept. 23 for the final round at Mentel Memorial, Marysville scored a 327 to beat Coffman (335) and secure the title at 23-1.

Sophomore Tess Fraser shot a 73 in the final round and finished with an average of 74.75 for the four rounds to edge Westerville Central's Sana Khan (75), Coffman's Lauren Stephens (76.5) and Allyson Chee (77.25) and Central's Gina Son (79) for conference medalist.

Marysville, which is the district's fourth seed, is teamed up at the Mill Creek sectional with Jerome and OCC-Cardinal runner-up New Albany. Hilliard Darby and Lancaster are the other top contenders, with the Golden Gales being led by defending state individual champion Samantha Swinehart.

Jerome features Joon-Hee Shim, Catarina Seo, Michelle Herbert, Amanda Koren and Michelle Koren. Last year, Shim missed advancing to state by one stroke.

"Our first goal was to win the OCC," Celtics coach C.D. Butcher said. "We've got the exact same team as last year, but we're a little bit more experienced and we have goals that are set in stone."

Each of Marysville's top four players -- Fraser and seniors Airaka Bernacchi, Chelsey Wyman and Skye Howard -- have proven to be capable of shooting in the 80s.

"They probably aren't as excited as I am about winning (the OCC)," coach Wyman said. "I don't think they realize that this is history that they're making."

"(Winning the OCC) is helpful, especially as we go into the sectional and district tournaments," Fraser said. "Everyone is trying to play well together."

Gahanna received the fifth seed and headlines The Links at Groveport sectional, along with Pickerington North and Olentangy Liberty. DeSales also should be a contender.

Individually, Liberty features OCC-Cardinal medalist Julie Lechner (75.6 league average), who finished ahead of Shim and Olentangy Orange's Kristen Helmsdoerfer (78.7), Olentangy's Jamie Richardson (83.5) and Seo (84.6). The Braves also are competing at Groveport.

The Lions' top four players -- seniors Melinda Hunkler, Jade Overstreet and Shannon Schobelock and sophomore Sierra Everson -- all have proven capable of shooting in the 70s and 80s.

"I think their scores speak for themselves," McQuirt said. "I tease them that they're all a bunch of head cases and that I'm just there to keep them from all going mental. They expect to shoot their best game every single time, so I just try to help them to have some fun. They're starting to see all of their hard work pay off."

Top-seeded Watterson and No. 8 Upper Arlington, which were central Ohio's representatives at the state tournament last year, will be joined at the Mentel Memorial sectional by second-seeded Coffman. Worthington Kilbourne, which is the 12th seed and beat UA in dual matches earlier in the season, also should contend for a district berth.

Watterson is the only top-nine seed not in the OCC and is led by two of its state competitors from last year in juniors Lauren Grogan and Alexandra Meyers.

UA has been lifted by the return of senior Alex Brown from injury.

In addition to the steady play of senior Allison Harper, Brown returned after missing the season's first three-plus weeks. Brown did not play in any of the regular-season matches last year but shot a 78 at the sectional and 74 at the district to help the Bears win titles at each level.

Helmsdoerfer, who was a Division II state qualifier last year, and Central's Khan and Son should be among the other top individuals at Mentel Memorial.

"They all like the course, and typically our best team scores come from (Mentel Memorial)," Coffman coach Cindy Young said. "We have the second seed, but there's no real advantage in winning the sectional. So even though Watterson's also in our sectional, we decided to go (Mentel Memorial)."


Below are the final OCC girls golf standings:


Marysville 23-1

Dublin Coffman 21-3

Worthington Kilbourne 15-9

Westerville Central 13-11

Westerville North 6-18

Hilliard Bradley 5-19

Westerville South 0-24


Dublin Jerome 23-1

New Albany 19-5

Olentangy Liberty 18-6

Olentangy Orange 10-14

Dublin Scioto 9-15

Olentangy 4-20

Pickerington Central 1-23


Gahanna 23-1

Upper Arlington 18-6

Pickerington North 17-7

Hilliard Darby 11-13

Lancaster 11-13

Watkins Memorial 4-20

Thomas Worthington 0-24