The Dublin Jerome High School girls golf team is in familiar territory as the title favorite in its conference, but many other things have changed for the most successful program in state-tournament history.
Winner of six state championships and a top-five finisher at the state tournament each of the past seven seasons, the Celtics have just two returning players and no seniors.
Jerome, which has won 13 league titles in 14 seasons and nine consecutive sectional championships, shot a 338 in the first round of the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Aug. 8 at Westchester to easily top the six-team field.
The second round was Aug. 15 at Royal American.
Juniors Ash Abhang and Caitlin Yant have returned with an eye on extending the Celtics' success. In the opening round of the league tournament, Abhang shot a 78 to finish runner-up and Yant shot an 81 to place third.
"We've got a good nucleus with Caitlin Yant and Ash Abhang, who I believe learned a lot from (2018 graduates) Taby (Robinson), Abby (Kiefer) and (2017 graduate) Mariana (Erana)," 13th-year coach C.D. Butcher said. "Ash has worked really hard and has done a lot of tournaments. She's doing what players need to do, her and Caitlin, by putting in the time this summer. Their expectations are extremely high and they're hoping it rubs off on the younger girls. We've got inexperience through the ranks after that. Obviously, it's a process."
Rounding out the Celtics' top five are sophomores Izzy Adams and Lindsay Mayo and freshman Emma Sparling.
Sparling turned in the team's third-best score during tryouts and is the sister of Jack Sparling, a 2014 Coffman graduate who was the individual medalist at the state boys tournament in 2013.
"Her dad coached golf at Duke, but she's really just starting out, and what she can do right now with what little background she has is pretty crazy in the game of golf," Butcher said. "(Adams and Mayo) both played varsity B. I think a lot of people will probably sleep on us, but our goals are still the same. It's going to be a close group and a hard-working group, but we'll probably need August to get our feet wet. Central Ohio is going to be a bear."
Girls tennis team again has depth
Although it didn't have anyone make the Division I state tournament last season, the girls tennis team was able to utilize its large pool of talent to earn a runner-up finish in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team event last fall.
The Celtics, who open Thursday, Aug. 16, at home against Worthington Kilbourne, hope to have a similar amount of depth again this season with the return of five experienced players and the addition of another strong competitor.
"We look like a pretty talented bunch from top to bottom again," third-year coach Ken Berlin said. "We'll be deep. I don't know if we'll be as deep as in the past, but we're more of a younger team this year. We may end up having one senior on the team, but as it shakes out, the majority of our girls will be juniors and sophomores."
Juniors Kavya Alagappan, Reagan Resor and Katherine Wang are the top returnees. Resor and Wang won their match at first doubles in the state team championship match against Mason last season, but the Celtics lost 3-1 a year after finishing third in the same event.
Resor also teamed with 2018 graduate Vicki Chang to reach the OHSAA district tournament, where they lost in the first round. Wang teamed with sophomore Arya Dudipala, who is not back with the team, to reach a district quarterfinal.
Senior Katie Yao and sophomore Izzy Seikel are other key returnees. Seikel lost in the first round at sectional last year in singles.
Sophomore Lalasa Nagireddy, who played first singles for Coffman for much of last year's regular season, is a transfer who is expected to be eligible the entire season and figures to take on a key role.
Jerome, which plays the winner of Lancaster and Pickerington Central in the second round of the OTCA tournament, finished 17-2 overall and went 6-0 to win the OCC-Cardinal title last season.
"We'll have some new players that will be joining us on varsity, so there's probably been a little bit more turnover than in years past, but that's definitely where our depth helps us," Berlin said. "It gets some of the younger girls that are stuck in a logjam behind players before them an opportunity to step up and prove themselves."
Boys golfers look for more titles
Three of the five players who helped produce a record performance at the Division I state tournament last fall have returned for the boys golf team.
On Aug. 7 in the first round of the eight-team OCC-Cardinal tournament at Apple Valley, the Celtics picked up where they left off by shooting a 298 for a 19-stroke victory over runner-up Olentangy Berlin (317).
That performance came despite not using senior Jackson Chandler, who finished sixth (150) at state last fall.
Junior Ethan Snyder was medalist with a 69, followed by senior Mason Wagner (71) and sophomores Tyler Groomes (78), Ryan Miller (80) and Jake Yarbrough (80).
In the second round Aug. 13 at Turnberry, the Celtics shot 296 to take first as Wagner and Snyder each shot 72.
Senior Ben Virant is expected to be with the Celtics' Gold varsity B team but could see time with the Green A team as well. Sophomore Logan Menning, who also is on the Gold team, and Chandler both shot 76 during the second round of the league tournament.
"There are always some difficult decisions that have to be made, especially since Jerome is so competitive each and every year, but I'm excited about the team we have and I think we're very deep," second-year coach Taylor Harle said. "We've got a lot of young guys playing well who are hungry for a chance to defend our title."
Jerome shot a 607 at state last season to set the record at Ohio State's Scarlet Course while earning the seventh title in program history. The 295 the Celtics' shot in the opening round set the single-day state record.
Jerome placed second at state in 2015 and third in 2016.
Blake Solomon, who tied for second at state with a 147, was joined in the 2018 graduating class by Davis Root, who tied for 20th at state (157), and Will Birkholz, a varsity contributor.
"We ended up having seven or eight sophomores in our top 12 (during this year's tryouts)," Harle said.
"Obviously, growing up in the Dublin community, it's very typical for these kids to be members at a country club, whether it's Muirfield or Tartan Fields, and we had a handful of guys that have just improved tremendously from last year."
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Cardinal at Apple Valley
Aug. 8 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Rattlesnake Ridge
Aug. 9 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Links
Aug. 11 -- Cincinnati St. Xavier Invitational at Maketewah
Aug. 13 -- OCC-Cardinal at Turnberry
Aug. 14 -- Dublin Invitational at Golf Club of Dublin
Aug. 18 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Ponds
Aug. 20 -- Toledo St. John's Invitational at Inverness
Aug. 27 -- Centerville Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 29 -- OCC-Cardinal at Darby Creek
Sept. 1 -- Pinnacle Classic
Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 9-10 -- Kiely Cup at Canteberry Country Club
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 15 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club
Sept. 22 -- Upper Arlington Masters at Scioto Country Club
Sept. 24 -- Nolan Belden Invitational at Brookside in Canton
Sept. 29 -- Jerome Honorary Invitational at Hickory Hills
Oct. 6 -- Olentangy Invitational at Wedgewood
Aug. 6 -- Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson
Aug. 8 -- OCC-Cardinal at Westchester
Aug. 9 -- Granville Invitational at Airport
Aug. 10 -- Panther Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 13 -- Hudson Invitational at Lake Forest
Aug. 15 -- OCC-Cardinal at Royal American
Aug. 18 -- Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines
Aug. 20 -- Centerville Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 22 -- Coffman, New Albany and Olentangy Orange at Muirfield Country Club
Aug. 27 -- Lexington Invitational at Westbrook
Sept. 4 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Country Club
Sept. 8 -- Eagle-Panther Invitational at Cooks Creek
Sept. 15 -- Toledo St. Ursula Invitational at Highland Meadows
Sept. 20 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 22 -- St. Angela Invitational at Maketewah
Oct. 6 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at Cooks Creek
*Aug. 16 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Aug. 21 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 23 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin
Aug. 25 -- at Cincinnati Ursuline with Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
*Aug. 28 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Aug. 30 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 4 -- at Delaware
*Sept. 6 -- vs. Scioto
Sept. 8 -- at Pickerington North with Mason and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
Sept. 10 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 13 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 18 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 20 -- vs. Gahanna
Sept. 25 -- at New Albany
Sept. 28 -- vs. Pickerington North
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Coffman and Scioto
Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Aug. 22 -- At Thomas Worthington
Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Sycamore
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Beavercreek
Aug. 18 -- Marysville Spike-Off Invitational
*Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne