Not having any of its players make the OHSAA state tournament the last two seasons proved to be an effective source of motivation for the Dublin Jerome High School girls tennis team.
On Oct. 11 and 13 in the Division I district tournament at Reynoldsburg, sophomore Lalasa Nagireddy finished as runner-up in singles, junior Katherine Wang placed third and junior Reagan Resor was fourth.
Each advanced to the state tournament Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
The last state competitor for the Celtics was 2016 graduate Ellee Bullock, who reached a quarterfinal in singles as a senior.
"It was kind of like a cloud hanging over our heads," third-year coach Ken Berlin said. "We've had really good team results, and obviously that's our focus, but it's nice to get the individuals out as well."
It's been an exciting couple weeks for the Celtics as well as for Berlin, whose wife had a baby Oct. 8.
Jerome played Olentangy Orange on Oct. 16 in a district final of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament. The winner advanced to the state team tournament Sunday, Oct. 21, at Reynoldsburg.
"Obviously, it feels good after all the hard work," Wang said. "It was kind of my goal to make state this year. We're the first state qualifiers since (Berlin) became coach."
Nagireddy lost to Pickerington North's Cassie Alcala 6-1, 6-3 in the district final, while Wang beat Resor 6-0, 6-1 in the consolation match.
During the regular season, Nagireddy played first singles, Wang was at second singles and Resor played third singles or first doubles.
"My focus was the best thing by far," Resor said. "My mental focus has been the No. 1 change."
Also competing at district was the doubles team of junior Kavya Alagappan and sophomore Izzy Seikel, who lost 6-3, 6-2 in the first round to eventual state qualifiers Lexie Brengartner and Ellie MacDowell of Olentangy Liberty.
Boys golfers capture district championship
The boys golf team looks like the favorite to win its second consecutive Division I state championship after shooting a 293 to win the district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
The Celtics, who have won seven state championships in 14 seasons, will compete in the state tournament Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 19, at Ohio State's Scarlet Course. They won last year's state title with a two-round total of 607.
At district, Jackson Chandler shot a 72 to tie for third and Ethan Snyder and Mason Wagner both shot 73 to tie for fifth. Tyler Groomes was seventh with a 75 and Ryan Miller (80) rounded out the scoring.
"We've had a good team this season," Groomes said. "We've been playing well coming into now, just keeping (our) head in the game and avoiding the big numbers."
Their toughest competition at state could come from St. Charles, which was district runner-up (309), as well as the four qualifiers from the Pine Hills district tournament: Massillon Jackson (302), Akron Hoban (305), Cleveland St. Ignatius (307) and Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (308).
"We all feel pretty good, especially going back-to-back (in district titles)," Chandler said. "We've all been playing great this season and we're just excited to get back there. It feels like all our work is paying off again."
Field hockey team sets program record
With its 4-0 victory over Olentangy Berlin on Oct. 10, the field hockey team set a program record for wins in a season.
Aleyah Bonaventura, Jaqueline McCully, Riley Morgan and Brynna Pope all scored against the Bears.
Jerome was 7-9 overall before opening the district tournament Oct. 16 as the 11th seed with a second-round game at sixth-seeded Orange. The winner plays fourth-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at a site to be announced. The district final is Oct. 27.
Cook wins OCC cross country title
On Oct. 13 in the OCC-Cardinal cross country meet at Hilliard Davidson, junior Elliott Cook of the boys team won the championship in 16 minutes, .4 seconds. He had placed ninth as a freshman and fifth last year.
His performance helped the Celtics finish fourth (90 points) behind champion Worthington Kilbourne (55).
Also competing for the Celtics were Kyle Von Cannon (13th, 16:38.3), Arjun Dhankani (16th, 16:42.7), Carson Smith (25th, 17:17.2), Gunnar Grass (36th, 17:32.4), Andrew McPherson (38th, 17:33.1) and Travis Cline (45th, 17:50.7).
The girls finished third (109) in the league meet behind Thomas Worthington (29) and Berlin (99).
Audrey Cook led the Celtics with a 14th-place finish (20:13.2), followed by Ava DiMasi (17th, 20:47.9), Lauren Metzger (23rd, 21:06.7), Abby Lenz (26th, 21:14.1), Manaka Yamaucki (31st, 21:19.9), Madison Weigle (41st, 21:41.9) and Nicole Bowen (48th, 21:57.5).
Both teams are competing in the Division I, district 1 meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hilliard Darby. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
Girls soccer team adds to title streak
With a 7-0 victory over Scioto on Oct. 9, the girls soccer team earned at least a share of its eighth consecutive league championship, finishing 7-0 in the OCC-Cardinal.
The Celtics followed with a 1-all tie at Pickerington North on Oct. 11 as Laine DeWalt scored. The Panthers are the district's No. 2 seed.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, third-seeded Jerome plays host to 30th-seeded Central Crossing in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The winner plays 16th-seeded Liberty or 21st-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 27.
Jerome enters the tournament at 12-3-1 overall.
Volleyball team places third in league
The girls volleyball team came up just short Oct. 11 against OCC-Cardinal runner-up Scioto, falling 25-13, 25-23, 22-25, 22-25, 16-14 to finish third (9-5) in the league behind Kilbourne (13-1) and the Irish (12-2).
Jerome was 15-8 overall after opening the Division I district tournament as the 12th seed Oct. 15 at home by beating 40th-seeded Northland 25-6, 25-7, 25-9. The Celtics played host to 43rd-seeded Marion Harding on Oct. 17 in a second-round match.
The second-round winner plays third-seeded Olentangy or 27th-seeded Lancaster in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Whitehall. The district final is Oct. 27 at Whitehall.
Boys soccer team opens tourney play
The 11th-seeded boys soccer team opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 17 at home against 46th-seeded Walnut Ridge.
The winner plays 40th-seeded Watterson in a second-round game Saturday, Oct. 20, at the home of the better seed. That winner faces second-seeded New Albany, 24th-seeded Groveport or 34th-seeded Westland in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 27.
Jerome lost to Scioto 2-0 on Oct. 9 to tie the Irish for second (4-2-1) in the OCC-Cardinal behind Kilbourne (6-1). The Celtics had won three consecutive league titles.
Jerome beat Orange 2-1 on Oct. 11 and was 6-5-5 overall entering the tournament.
Girls golf season ends at district
Of the five players who helped the girls golf team finish fifth (333) at the Division I district tournament Oct. 9, none are seniors.
Junior Caitlin Yant shot a 79 to tie for 12th, four strokes behind the second individual state qualifier, Upper Arlington's Emily Hummer.
Also competing at district were junior Ash Abhang (82), sophomore Izzy Adams (85), freshman Emma Sparling (87) and sophomore Lindsay Mayo (102).
Abhang shot a 77 to place fifth in a sectional Oct. 2 at Royal American as the Celtics were runners-up (335).
Jerome won its 14th league championship in 15 seasons, going 19-0 in the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament as Yant (75.8 average) was league runner-up and Abhang (78.3) was third. Both made first-team all-league, while Sparling (88.5), Mayo (89) and Adams (96.3) all were second-team all-league.