If the New Albany High School girls golf team is to complete a perfect season and win its first Division I state championship, it looks as if the Eagles will have to survive a tight pack to raise the trophy.

Morgan Pankow shot a 73 and Madison Spiess followed with a 74 on the first day of the state tournament Oct. 19 at Ohio State’s Gray Course, leading New Albany to a team score of 300 and the lead by five shots with one round to play.

Centerville shot a 305, followed by Ashland (309) and two-time defending champion Olentangy Orange (310) to round out the top four.

“The girls really handled themselves well out there,” Eagles coach Rich Ritter said. “A couple of them did not get off to the best starts or have the best front nines, but we closed very well. We have been working on that all year, closing out the last five holes strong. That’s a tough thing here; (Nos.) 16 and 17 are tricky holes, but we came through very well.”

Also scoring for New Albany on a cool and slightly breezy day were Kary Hollenbaugh (76) and Anna Ritter (77).

“I have been practicing a lot into the wind recently so I didn’t think it was that bad,” Pankow said. “I missed a lot of shorter putts but came back with some longer ones. Overall, I thought it was a very good round.”

Ashley Au’s 70 and a 71 from Riley Dean led Orange, which also got an 80 from Natalia Sompolvorachai and an 89 from Natalie Au.

“Being 10 strokes off the lead is not bad by any means. I’m pretty happy with where we are and we still can make a run,” Pioneers coach Cari DeAngelis said. “We can be lower than what we were (Oct. 19). That will put us right there.”

Olentangy Berlin junior Leila Raines shot a 69 and shares the individual lead with Centerville’s Marissa Wenzler, a Kentucky commit. Upper Arlington junior Emily Hummer is in a three-way tie for fourth with a 71.

“I was really consistent on the front nine, hitting greens and hitting fairways and pretty much two-putting every hole,” said Raines, a Michigan State commit. “You had to start landing the ball short of the greens. They were firm. You didn’t want to be above the hole for sure.”

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